Andrew Dasburg has been called “the greatest draughtsman of landscape since Van Gogh,”(Alfred Frankenstein, San Francisco Sunday Examiner/Chronicle, April 17, 1966). Born in Paris in 1887, the artist and his widowed mother immigrated to America in 1892, where Dasburg spent his childhood in the New York City known as Hell’s Kitchen. In 1902 one of his teachers, recognizing his gift for drawing, brought him to the nearby Art Students League and persuaded the school to accept him as a scholarship student. Of his instructors, Robert Henri was most inspirational to the young art student. Henri’s philosophy was to battle against tradition, and to consider every direction in art and life that led to truth. He also emphasized the importance of well-defined substructure. Henri encouraged him to pay particular attention to establishing a clear sense of weight and mass for the forms in his pictures. Like Einstein, whom he greatly admired, Dasburg felt that God created structures in nature in simple, rather than complex formulas, and these views shaped much of his art.
In 1918, Dasburg was summoned to New Mexico by his good friend Mabel Dodge. The new environment he found stimulated his immensely. Under the influence of the southwestern landscape his pictorial language ripened. The elemental majesty and power of nature became the primary focus of his artistic expression. Pure form and color were subordinated to the task of measuring the land and people of New Mexico in pictorial terms quite different from, though related to his abstract work.
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