Bert G. Phillips
In 1898, Bert Phillips became the first, permanent, Anglo artist of Taos and in so doing set an example that many others would soon follow.
In his youth, Phillips took a serious interest in art, once winning first prize for a collection of watercolors entered at a county fair. He began training at New York's Art Students League and, around the same time, at the National Academy of Design, where he won the bronze medal in life class. After his studies, Phillips set up his own studio in New York and painted there for the next five years. His actual goal was to become an accomplished easel painter. Phillips traveled to England and France for further study, and after his return to New York he made the search for American subjects a priority. His imagination was fired by that most American subject of all, the Indian.
Joseph Sharp had told Phillips and Ernest Blumenschein about Taos in 1895 while they studied art in the Paris academies. As Phillips knew, Kit Carson had lived in Taos and was the embodiment of its romantic reputation. Starting from Denver, Phillips and Blumenschein intended to spend the summer painting the landscape south to Mexico. Somewhere north of Taos their wagon fell into a rut, and Blumenschein took a broken wagon wheel with him in search of repair. Both were permanently smitten by Taos when they found it.
In 1915, Phillips joined five of his artists, including Blumenschein, Sharp, Irving Couse, Oscar Berninghaus and Herbert Dunton, to form the Taos Society of Artists. There were no contemporary art museums, galleries or art dealers in the West when the Taos Society began. Another Taos artist, Kenneth Adams, wrote that the key element in the artistic success of Phillips and his contemporaries was the genuine love they felt for Taos.
During the Depression, when painting sales slowed, Phillips painted murals in Iowa, Arizona and Missouri. In Taos, he joined Victor Higgins, Ward Lockwood and Emil Bisttram to produce murals for the new county courthouse. Phillips, however, made his reputation in oil paintings, not murals. In addition to his well-known Native American and Spanish-American subjects, his forest scenes come as close to lyrical perfection as any Taos artist's work of his time. Phillips epitomizes the romanticism which those first Taos artists all displayed at one point or another during their long careers. He remained utterly faithful to what may be fairly termed academic romanticism, a combining of traditional European academic training and a romantic interpretation of life emphasizing the beautiful and the idyllic through art.
Actively seeking works by Bert G. Phillips.