LaVerne Nelson Black
LaVerne Nelson Black was born in Viola, Wisconsin, in the Kickapoo Valley, an area rich in Indian lore. Interested in drawing as a boy, Black experimented with vegetable juices, earths and a soft stone called red keel as his first painting supplies. In 1906 Black's family moved to Chicago, where Black enrolled at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. During his second year at the Academy his work was of such outstanding quality that he was awarded a scholarship.
After completing his training, Black produced artwork for newspapers in Chicago and in New York. He continued to paint and received a few commissions. He was better known for his bronzes, which were first shown at Tiffany's.
In the late 1920's ill health forced Black to leave the East and settle with his wife and two children in Taos, New Mexico. Here, in a region rich in heritage, he did some of his best work depicting the pueblo architecture, Native Americans and the snow-covered Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
Several years later, Black moved his family to the warmer climate of Phoenix, Arizona. During this Taos-Phoenix period, he completed commissions for the Santa Fe Railway Company. Several of the paintings were displayed in some of the line's largest offices. In 1937, he was also commissioned by the Public Works Administration to paint four murals for the United States Post Office in Phoenix, focusing on the progress of Arizona from time of the first settlers to Black's day. His friends believed that he contracted a form of paint poisoning while executing the murals, for shortly after their completion his already sickly condition worsened and he died at the age of fifty-one.
It was not until the late 1930's that LaVerne Nelson Black received the recognition he deserved. Black's paintings were characterized by broad brush strokes and frequent use of the palette knife. Blocks of bold color, usually in warm hues, conveyed the essence of the Southwest, which he painted from life when possible rather than working from sketches.
Actively seeking works by LaVerne Nelson Black.