If only every artist’s life could be as put together as their work. When museum goers stroll through galleries to admire artwork, they are sometimes surprised at the tumultuous lives of the artists who created the masterpieces. Taos Society Artist Walter Ufer was no exception to life’s evils as he struggled with alcoholism, depression and debt most of his life.
Through May 11, 2014, the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City hosts the world premiere exhibition, “Walter Ufer: Rise, Fall, Resurrection” honoring the centennial anniversary of his first trip to Taos, New Mexico, and the beginning of the Taos Society of Artists. The exhibition includes 50 works by Ufer, and more than a dozen works by the artist’s contemporaries.
Despite his struggles, Ufer was able to achieve national success in his lifetime. In 1936, two years into sobriety, the artist died suddenly of appendicitis, leaving his family destitute. His work was all but forgotten until 1970, at which time the Phoenix Art Museum featured Ufer in two major exhibitions, thus beginning his reintroduction into the mainstream art world. This exhibition reevaluates his artwork and offers a complete picture of one of America’s most controversial artists.
“Walter Ufer: Rise, Fall, Resurrection” offers examples from his two extended stays in Germany, his work in Chicago, as well as the art created in New Mexico, which later garnered him national attention. Ufer’s work is well-known for scenes of Native American life, particularly of the Pueblo Indians, and landscape paintings executed in a high-keyed palette. The National Cowboy Museum is the only venue to host this exhibition.
More than 20 museums are lending works, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum, as well as numerous private collectors from across the United States. On exhibition are many of his masterpieces. Additionally, the exhibition includes works by Ernest Blumenschein, Victor Higgins, E. Martin Hennings, Oscar Berninghaus and Catharine Carter Critcher among others. Ufer’s students are represented by works from Edmund Davison and the brothers Carl and Frank Woolsey, as well as his wife, Mary Monrad Frederiksen Ufer.
The exhibition is curated by Dean Porter, Ph.D., Director Emeritus of the Snite Museum of Art located at the University of Notre Dame. Dr. Porter is an art historian and specialist on the Taos Society of Artists.
The National Cowboy Museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located in Oklahoma City’s Adventure District at 1700 NE 63rd Street. For more information, call (405) 478-2250 or visit www.nationalcowboymuseum.org.
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