Original Painting of Diné Dancer by Gerald Nailor [SOLD]


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Gerald Nailor, Diné of the Navajo Nation Painter
  • Category: Paintings
  • Origin: Diné of the Navajo Nation
  • Medium: casein
  • Size:
    12” x 7-⅝” image;
    19-⅝” x 15-⅛” framed
  • Item # C4461
  • SOLD

This beautiful original painting was created by Diné artist Gerald Nailor.  The influential artist lived an unfortunately short life, but still managed to become one of the most widely recognized early Diné painters.  It is not often that his works make their way to us, but we are always delighted when they do.  This single-figure painting features a ceremonial dancer.  According to a knowledgeable Diné friend of ours, “this painting represents the male deity ‘yeii bika’, dancer of the ‘tle’ji’, Nightway ceremony.”

Nailor’s incredible technical abilities and keen eye for color elevate this piece above the ordinary.  The linework is remarkable.  Nailor’s outlines are razor thin but perfectly consistent, defining each of the many areas of incredibly detailed work.  The more significant outlines are augmented with additional color, adding depth and texture to the dancer’s body.  Nailor’s palette of pink and purple tones is absolutely gorgeous, and most certainly unique.  Warm reds, oranges, and yellows appear as well, mostly in the dancer’s regalia.  Everything comes together beautifully in this image, and the result is one of the most attractive Gerald Nailor paintings that we’ve ever offered.

Date and Artist Signature of  Gerald Nailor, Diné of the Navajo Nation PainterThe painting is signed Gerald Nailor and dated “‘44” in lower right.  It is framed in a thin, carved wood frame, under a layered mat with three interior bands in color that complement the painting.

Gerald Nailor, Sr. (1917-1952) Toh Yah was an influential Diné painter and printmaker who is best known for his serene and beautiful depictions of wildlife.  Dorothy Dunn’s 1968 book American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas provides an excellent description of the artist’s style:  "Gerald Nailor was the suave stylist-decorator. His lovely patterns of horses, deer, and antelopes were smartly and proudly drawn with never a thought for natural appearance. Every detail of their design was accomplished with adroitness and polish. If one must use the term in connection with Indian art, his work was sophisticated.”

Nailor’s life and career were very short. He was prolific, though, leaving behind a large body of work that is highly desirable today.  He was a printmaker, too, founding and operating a print shop called Tewa Enterprises with his Santa Fe Indian School classmate Harrison Begay.  Their goal was to make Native American artwork—their own and that of their contemporaries—available to a larger audience. They succeeded in increasing the visibility and availability of Native American artworks.  These Tewa prints remain available on the resale market at very low costs. Nailor’s original paintings have become quite collectible.

Condition: excellent condition

Provenance: this Original Painting of Diné Dancer by Gerald Nailor is from a private Colorado collection

Recommended Reading: American Indian Painting of the Southwest and Plains Areas by Dorothy Dunn

Relative Links: Santa FeAllan HouserPicuris PuebloDiné of the Navajo NationDorothy DunnNative American PaintingsGerald Nailor, Diné of the Navajo Nation Painter

Close up view of the dancer's face.