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Exhibition Explores Mabel Dodge Luhan’s Artistic Impact on Taos and the US Southwest

Left: Emil Bisttram, “Taos Indian Woman Plasterer.” Right: Ansel Adams, “A Man of Taos, Tony Lujan, Taos Pueblo.”

Although well-regarded as an artistic and spiritual retreat for both established and aspiring artists, few left as big of a mark on Taos as Mabel Dodge Luhan. This significant but underrecognized cultural figure ushered in Modern art to Northern New Mexico.

Luhan spent her adult life building utopian communities. First, as an expatriate in Florence (1905–12), where she attempted to recreate the Renaissance; next as a “New Woman” in Greenwich Village (1912–15), where she served as an honorary vice president of the 1913 Armory Show and hosted one of the most famous salons in American history; and lastly, in Taos, her “New World” (1918–47).

After dismissing Santa Fe as too confining, she continued on to Taos in 1918, where she found her true love and established an artistic retreat that played host to the likes of Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Martha Graham, Paul Strand, and D.H. Lawrence.

Now, nearly a century after Mabel Dodge Luhan came to Taos, a new exhibition, American Moderns and the West, will explore the impact she had on the art, writings, and activism of 20th-century American Modernism. Organized by the Harwood Museum of Art, the exhibit displays works by scores of luminaries summoned to Taos by Luhan displayed alongside Pueblo and Hispano artists to examine the cultural exchange that formed this unique “Southwest Modernism.”

To learn more about Mabel Dodge Luhan and the exhibit, visit taos.org/art/taos-visionaries, or to plan your Taos retreat, visit taos.org.