The Taos Moderns

The Taos Moderns were an influential group of artists who left cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles to settle in Taos, New Mexico. Between the 1940s and 1960s, dozens of artists converged on Taos, establishing it as a center of modernist artistic activity. Notable artists such as Agnes Martin, Edward Corbett, and Richard Diebenkorn made their way to Taos, adding to Taos’ burgeoning reputation as a cutting-edge arts community.

The group derives its name from the title chosen by Raymond Jonson and Ted Egri for a 1956 exhibition at the Jonson Gallery in Albuquerque. Artists came and went from Taos, but the new generation of Taos artists became collectively known as the Taos Moderns. During the 1950s, the Taos Moderns exhibited throughout the region, notably “Taos Painting Yesterday and Today” at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center in 1952.

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Although they pursued varied artistic goals, the Taos Moderns were mostly non-objective, abstract painters. Many came to Taos after having studied abroad in Europe and within the United States, with masters such as Mark Rothko, Hans Hoffman, and Clyfford Still. As such, they brought with them a wealth of perspectives on modern and American art.

Some of the Taos Moderns went on to form the Taos Art Association in 1952, which led to the beginning of the Stables Gallery. Here, the tradition set forth by the Taos Moderns became a concrete reality. With an exhibition space, the artists organized shows to draw in attention from around the nation, featuring both member-artists and invited artists. Today, the mission of the mid-century movement by the Taos Moderns to usher in contemporary and abstract in Taos remains as the Taos Center for the Arts (TCA) and the few contemporary galleries in Taos that cultivate space for nuanced forms of art.

Photo Credits: Curtis Schaafsma

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