Robert Ray (1924-2002)

Paul O'Connor, "Portrait of Artist with Umbrella"<br>8 1/2 x 11", black and white photograph
Paul O'Connor, "Portrait of Artist with Umbrella"
8 1/2 x 11", black and white photograph


By the time Robert Ray decided to leave his native Denver and move to Taos in 1954, he had served in the navy in the South Pacific during World War II, earned art degrees in California and Mexico, and lived in Europe for a year.  His decision to move came after being invited by Eulalia Emetaz to exhibit at La Galeria Escondida, which at the time was the place to exhibit as a modern artist.  In Taos, Earl Stroh introduced him to Helene Wurlitzer, who encouraged him to remain and provided him with a studio residence.

Becoming one of the first beneficiaries of Mrs. Wurlitzer's generosity, Ray was an included artist of several commissioned by Wurlitzer to paint portraits of her for family members. The artist went on to show his work in regional and national exhibitions. He sold some paintings, but during the quiet winters of the 1950s, when Taos faced an economic shutdown, he was forced to return to Denver for a few months of employment.

The most frequent subjects of his early Taos oil paintings and woodcut prints were still lifes and semi-abstract landscapes.  He was fascinated by the light of the Taos Valley—not just the light itself, but the way in which the quality of light defines the place.

In his work, intense concentrations of light contrast abruptly with darkness and fragmented forms.  He worked closely with the then-Harwood Foundation and, upon his death in 2002, left the title of his home to what is now The Harwood Museum of Art.

Schools of Study

University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 1950
Centro de Estudios Universitarios, Mexico City 1955

Partial List of Collections

Brooklyn Museum of Art, NY
Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE
Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO
Aspen Institute Executive Center, Aspen, CO
Midland Federal Savings, Denver, CO
Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM
Sheldon Museum, Lincoln, NE
Roswell Museum, Roswell, NM
Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, MD

Selected Exhibitions

Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO 1953
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, Colorado Springs, CO 1955
Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM (1956, 1959, 1967)
Roswell Museum and Art Center (1959, 1962, 1964)
Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum, Kansas City, MO (1957, 1958, 1959)
University of Illinois, Urbana, IL (1957, 1959)
The American Federation of Arts, NY 1956
Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. 1955
Chrysler Art Museum, Provincetown, MA 1958
San Diego Museum of Fine Arts, San Diego, CA 1960
Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco, CA 1965

Robert Ray at 203 Fine Art

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

Taos Moderns in Santa Fe | 2019

Taos Moderns Return to The Stables Gallery | 2018

Robert Ray: Paintings from the Estate and Private Collections | 2017

Taos Moderns: Bridging the Gap | 2015

Selected Works in Our Inventory