Continuing through February 9, 2018
German-born artist Gustave Baumann has become a staple of New Mexican art. After visiting the Taos Artist Colony in 1918, Baumann eventually settled in Santa Fe. His woodblock prints capture the southwestern landscape in a unique style and vivid color palate. The works currently on view here prove no exception, and offer a stunning array of landscapes, still lifes, and because of his involvement with the Works Progress Administration, highlight cultural aspects of New Mexico life in the early to mid-20th Century.
The showstoppers in this collection are Baumann’s landscape prints. His stunning sky blues and greens play dramatically against, yet in harmony with, the almost neon yellows and oranges of the land itself. The trees in his work recall pointillism, with each leaf shown individual attention, and the rhythmic rolling of hills and grass creating an almost abstract pattern. The surprising gems of the show are the kachina prints. Representing deities, natural elements, or deceased relatives, kachina dolls are a large aspect of the lives of the Hopi people. Kachinas have long captured the imagination of non-western artists, from Max Ernst to Georgia O’Keeffe, and Baumann brings the kachinas to life, not portraying them as simple aesthetic objects, but as animated beings.
Baumann’s depictions of pueblo life are also fascinating as they are beautiful. His prints depict San Domingo Pueblo and other areas around Santa Fe as they were a century ago. But the vibrancy of the color palette, and movement within the prints brings these pastoral settings to life. It is clear in this collection that Baumann not only appreciated the southwestern landscape, but was adamant about portraying its people in an honest manner, and with a curious mind.