Walter Ufer 1876-1936

Born in Germany, Walter Ufer emigrated with his family to Kentucky when he was a boy. Following in the footsteps of his father, a master engraver and gunsmith, young Walter was apprenticed to a lithography firm. With the strong support of his parents, Ufer traveled to Europe, completing his studies at the Royal Academy in Dresden. It was in Europe that Ufer met and became friends with Joseph Sharp and Ernest Blumenschein, tow artist who would become crucial colleagues throughout Ufer’s career. When he returned to the States, Ufer, now married, settled in Chicago where he met the mayor, Carter Harrison, who became the artist’s first patron. Though Ufer, an avowed socialist, would bristle at Harrison’s patronage, it was Harrison who sent Ufer to Taos, where he met up with Sharp and Blumenschein and found his subject—the Indians of the New Mexico Pueblos. Ufer also he took Harrison’s advice and devoted himself to painting the Indian “as he is,” without the overtones of romanticism that characterized Native American depiction. Despite deep bouts of depression and alcoholism, Walter Ufer was eagerly accepted as a member of the Taos Society of Artists. His legacy of socially significant paintings that combine strong composition, elegant impasto work and vibrant light and color make him one of the most striking figures in early 20th century American art.

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