WALTER UFER (1876-1936)
WALTER UFER (1876-1936)
WALTER UFER (1876-1936)
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WALTER UFER (1876-1936)

A Taos Song

Details
WALTER UFER (1876-1936)
A Taos Song
signed ‘W Ufer’ (lower right)
oil on canvas
16 x 20 ¼ in. (40.6 x 51.4 cm.)
Painted in 1927.
Provenance
Macbeth Gallery, New York.
Private collection, New York.
Acquired by the present owner from the above.
Literature
J. Ott, “Reform in Redface: The Taos Society of Artists Plays Indian,” American Art, vol. 23, no. 2, 2009, p. 86.
Exhibited
New York, Macbeth Gallery, Exhibition of Recent Paintings by Walter Ufer, N.A., January 24–February 13, 1928, no. 14.

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Lot Essay

Following his first visit to Taos, New Mexico, in 1914, Walter Ufer found a wealth of imagery that shaped the rest of his career. Ufer sought to paint original snapshots of the contemporary life of his Native subjects. The artist once commented, "I paint the Indian as he is..." (as quoted in Pioneer Artists of Taos, Denver, Colorado, 1983, pp. 128-29) Indeed, sensitively aware of how his artistic predecessors had rendered similar scenes, Ufer felt he was in a unique position to capture an authentic contemporary glimpse of the evolving life of the Taos Indian. He was determined to portray the Native Americans of the early twentieth century not as remote aboriginal figures, but as men and women at a cultural crossroads, pressured by the dominant American culture yet maintaining their traditional heritage.

A Taos Song embodies this goal, with his subject clad in a denim buttondown shirt and jeans with the traditional white robe of Taos wrapped around his waist while he focuses on his ritual. Ufer’s intimate depiction is informed by his close relationship with his subject, Jim Mirabel, a friend and model who regularly appeared in Ufer’s paintings, as well as pictures by other members of the Taos Society. Jim appears in Ufer’s pictures spanning nearly twenty years, including Artist and Model (circa 1920, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art) and Jim and His Daughter (1923, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois).

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