1897 - 1966
In 1926, Kenneth Adams became the last member elected to the renowned Taos Society of Artists. The group disbanded in 1927, leaving Adams to pass the baton to the second generation of Taos artists.
Adams, a native of Topeka, Kansas, made his way just after World War I to New York where he pursued his studies at the Art Students League. He met and studied with Andrew Dasburg at Woodstock, New York, through the Art Students' League's summer program and a friendship and artistic kinship developed between them. By 1924, Dasburg had moved to Santa Fe and Adams joined him in the region which was to become synonymous with his work. Through Dasburg, Adams made contact with Walter Ufer in Taos. He then moved to Taos and began his association with the Taos Society of Artists.
From a stylistic point of view, Adams painted in the same conservative, fundamentally representational vein as did the other Taos artists of the mid-20s, but he did not follow their inclination toward the picturesque or the sentimental. Adams was interested in probing the soul of his subjects, especially Hispanic men and women, through portraiture. His landscapes interpreted the land instead of merely remolding it. Adams' interest in painting nudes and florals, an interest which was to continue far beyond his Taos years, reveal his modernist leanings. This less traditional work marks him as a pivotal figure between the founders of the Taos Society and the second generation of northern New Mexico artists, who were largely sympathetic with the art movements then current in New York and in Europe.
After 1940, Adams increasingly associated himself with Albuquerque rather than with Taos. He was a faculty member at both the University of New Mexico and Sandia School (now Sandia Prep). At the end of his life, Adams received the recognition which he enjoys today. He was elected an academician of the National Academy of Design in 1961. Several years later, he retired from the university faculty and was honored in 1964 with a large-scale retrospective of his work at UNM.