Howard Norton Cook (1901-1980)

self portrait by Howard Norton cook


Considered one of America's best-known printmakers, Howard Cook was a painter, illustrator, and lecturer who frequently served as a guest professor in numerous universities and art schools.

Born in Springfield, Massachusetts, in 1901, Cook completed his formal training at the Art Students League in New York in 1919. The artist then traveled extensively in Europe, Northern Africa, Asia, and Central America.

During his studies, Cook found a lifelong friendship with fellow artist Andrew Dasburg. In 1926, he took his first trip to the American West at Dasburg's recommendation and was an illustrator for Forum magazine. He married Barbara Latham, a modernist Southwest artist introduced to him by Victor Higgins, and further developed his fascination with Taos and the surrounding area.

In 1937, he won the largest mural commission ever given to a Taos artist when the Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture chose him to paint sixteen fresco murals in the lobby of the main post office in San Antonio, Texas. His frescoes portray a history of Texas from the Spanish conquest to the 1930s. 1967 he was appointed the first artist-in-residence at the Roswell Museum in Roswell, New Mexico.

Cook earned Guggenheim Fellowships twice in the 1930s. He spent one year and a half painting in Taxco, Mexico, and another time in the Deep South, where he both painted and printed. These works are now in the Georgia Museum of Art and the J. Frank Dobie Collection at the University of Texas.

During World War II, he was an artist and war correspondent in the South Pacific, and his illustrations from this time were exhibited at the War Department at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and later circulated as a traveling exhibition.

Schools of Study

Art Students League, NYC, 1919

Art Colony of Woodstock, New York

Partial List of Collections

Denver Art Museum, CO

Georgia Museum of Art, GA

Library of Congress, VA

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, OK

New Mexico Museum of Art, NM

Roswell Museum and Art Center, NM

San Diego Museum of Art, CA

The Harwood Museum of Art, NM

The Philbrook Museum of Art, OK

White Museum of American Art, NY

Selected Awards

Mural Commission, Treasury Department's Section of Painting and Sculpture, TX, 1937

Elected Academician in the National Academy of Design

Guggenheim Fellowship, US South & Southwest, 1934

Gold Medal, Architectural League of New York, PA, 1933

Guggenheim Fellowship, Mexico, 1932-33


Selected Exhibitions

Solo exhibition at Denver Art Museum, 1927

Solo exhibition at the Museum of New Mexico, 1928

"The Army at War: A Graphic Record by American Artists," organized by the Treasury Department, 1944


Peggy and Harold Samuels, "The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West"
Dean Porter, etc; "Taos Artists and Their Patrons"

Selected Works in Our Inventory