Pair of Sketches dated 1933 by Albert Looking Elk of Taos Pueblo

C4276B-paint.jpg

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Albert Martinez, Taos Pueblo Painter
  • Category: Drawings
  • Origin: Taos Pueblo
  • Medium: Ink on paper
  • Size:
    4-1/2" x 5-3/4” each image;
    20 x 14-1/2” framed
  • Item # C4276B
  • Price: $2,250.00

This pair of ink drawings was created by Taos Pueblo artist Albert “Looking Elk” Martinez.  The upper image features a four-figure Devil Dance, while the lower image features a four-figure War Dance.  Created in black ink on off-white paper, each image is stark and strong. Martinez used careful, thin outlines for each figure’s left side.  Their right sides are defined by shadows, with thick blocks of ink replacing the other sides’ thin lines. The positioning and severity of these shadows suggest that the dances are occuring at either dusk or dawn.  The dancers’ movements contribute to the images’ impressive energy as well. Each figure is in motion; their movements feel loose, expressive, and natural. The Devil Dancers face directly forward, allowing the viewer to see their masks.  Their arms extend in various directions. The War Dancers are positioned similarly but face various directions, creating a particularly pleasant composition. With this pair of ink drawings, the talented and resourceful Albert Martinez created dramatic and beautiful images using the simplest of tools.

Martinez labeled each sketch.  They are framed together, beautifully, under wide black matting in an attractive gold frame. The presentation as a whole is strong and effective. A transparent backing allows the viewer to see the back of each sketch, which identify the artist and the date (1933) and provide information about the scenes.

Albert Martinez (c. 1888 – November 30, 1940) was, along with Albert Lujan and Juan Mirabal, one of the “Three Taos Painters.”  Martinez is most frequently referred to as Albert Looking Elk. He entered the art world not as a creator, but as a subject. He modeled for Taos Society of Artists founding members E. Irving Couse and Oscar Berninghaus throughout his childhood and well into adulthood.  In 1915, when he was about 27 years old, he received a significant Christmas gift from Berninghaus: paints, brushes, and painting lessons. He was successful enough to show his work multiple times at Santa Fe’s Museum of Fine Arts.

Martinez, along with his two aforementioned contemporaries, created works that show an obvious European influence.  His preferred subject was Taos Pueblo itself, which he depicted frequently and quite realistically. He also, on occasion, created paintings that displayed a Santa Fe Indian School “flat” style influence, though that is not the style for which he and his peers are remembered.


Condition: this Pair of Sketches dated 1933 by Albert Looking Elk of Taos Pueblo is in excellent condition with a few minor discoloration

Provenance: private New Mexico collection

Recommended Reading: Taos Pueblo Painters Exhibit Sheds Light on Forgotten Artists by Elmo Baca. Published in New Mexico Magazine, January 2000.

Relative Links: Taos PuebloPaintingsEanger Irving CouseOscar BerninghausAlbert Martinez


Albert Martinez, Taos Pueblo Painter
  • Category: Drawings
  • Origin: Taos Pueblo
  • Medium: Ink on paper
  • Size:
    4-1/2" x 5-3/4” each image;
    20 x 14-1/2” framed
  • Item # C4276B
  • Price: $2,250.00

C4276B-paint.jpgC4276B-large.jpg Click on image to view larger.