RC Ellis (1923-1979)


Born in Union Point, Texas, in 1923, Robert C Ellis first began studying art through The University of New Mexico, Taos Summer Field School in 1942. It was here that the artist would meet and befriend one of his personal inspirations: Andrew Dasburg.

Ellis would have moved to Taos earlier if it had not been for WWII and his service through the Coast Guard.  After the war, he returned to studying art at the New School of Social Research in New York in 1949, where he studied Abraham Rattner and Adja Yunkers (later one of the Albuquerque Moderns). Ellis returned to New Mexico the following year to study at the University of New Mexico, obtaining his BFA in 1950.

Most important to Ellis was the time between 1947 and 1953, when he lived intermittently with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Sierra Madre. The Tarahumara and their artwork served as profound inspirations to the artist.

His ties to Mexico, as strong as those he felt for the Southwest, became even stronger with his 1957 marriage to Rosamaria Ramirez de Alba, a Mexican citizen.  He was the only artist among the Taos Moderns to pursue his career in two countries showing his work on both sides of the border.  in 1961, the artist returned to Taos as a resident of the Wurlitzer Foundation. In 1965, Ellis finally settled in Taos, New Mexico.

His paintings from the 1940s onward moved through Cubist and Abstract Expressionist-influenced periods.  In the 1950s, his interest in the nature of luminosity led him to try for a kind of stained glass effect.  In later works, he moved to a more minimalist–type artwork in his painting and printmaking.

His first solo exhibition was at Gump’s Gallery in San Francisco, California, in 1942, and from there, his work was exhibited across the North American continent. Ellis exhibited internationally in several galleries in Mexico and at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno in Mexico City in 1964.

In 1979, R.C. Ellis passed away in Albuquerque, New Mexico, leaving behind his estate to his late partner, Rosamaria Clark.

RC Ellis at 203 Fine Art

The following exhibition catalogues, published by 203 Fine Art, feature works by Robert C. Ellis. Please follow the links to view the catalogues on Issuu.

Robert C. Ellis | Minimalist Works From the 70s

R.C. Ellis | 2020

Taos Moderns in Santa Fe | 2019

Taos Moderns Return to The Stables Gallery | 2018

Robert C. Ellis & Michio Takayama Legends of Taos | 2017

Taos Moderns: Bridging the Gap | 2015


Schools of Study

University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
New School for Social Research, NY

Partial List of Collections

Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.
Roswell Museum, Roswell, NM
The University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
University of Kansas Art Museum, Lawrence, KS
lnstituto Mexicano Norte Americano de Relaciones Culturales, Mexico City
Sala Permanente de Arte Contemporaneo, Toluca, Mexico

Selected Awards

Theodora Shaskin Memorial Award 1965

Selected Exhibitions

Galeria de Arte Mexicano, Mexico City (1955, 1957, 1959, 1961)
Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno del lnstituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Mexico City 1964
Tucson Art Center, Tucson, AZ 1969
Jonson Gallery, Albuquerque, NM 1969
The Birger Sandzen Memorial Gallery, Lindsborg, KS 1976
Pan American Union, Washington, D.C. 1955
Brooklyn Museum, NY 1959
American Embassy in Tokyo, Japan 1965

Selected Works in Our Inventory