Gallery Artists > Albert Lujan Biography :

Albert Lujan (1892 - 1948)  Artworks >>

Albert Lujan, who sometimes signed his paintings Weasel Arrow, was one of the early pueblo painters whose work reached the 'outside' world. Beginning about 1915, he painted images of his pueblo surroundings and sold them primarily to visiting tourists. It is estimated that he completed about 2000 oil paintings and watercolors. His signature almost always included the drawing of an arrow. He seems not to have stirred much interest with his artwork among the caucasian painters, who formed the Taos Society of Artists, but through his nephew, famed hoop dancer, Bobby Lujan, a tourist named Brad Taylor became aware of Albert Lujan's marketable talents. Albert Lujan was a farmer in his early life and also a fiscal (deacon) at his church. It was in this role, while taking a break from doing maintenance on the building, that Taylor noticed him painting a landscape on a leftover board. This visitor bought him painting supplies and reportedly thereafter bought one or more of the resulting paintings. Thus encouraged, around 1915, Lujan began his prolific career. By the 1920s, Lujan built his business by posting signs and printing business cards advertising himself as an artist. He painted plein air on the plaza, attracting customers who could purchase a painting fresh off the easel. His nephew, Bobby, who was then a boy, was also available to perform the hoop dance in the presence of visitors -- for a fee. Depictions of the Village became his sole subject, usually painted on a small scale and sold inexpensively. Acquiring one of these paintings was something like getting a painted postcard. Lujan sold lots of images, but could not have realized any great amount of money for his efforts. Perhaps experiencing the reality of life in the Village, rather than viewing it as an outsider, led Lujan to present the place almost starkly. Outsiders could create their storytelling images of Indians without regard to accuracy. In his early work, Lujan shows the architectural arrangement of structures without people. When he adds blanketed figures, there is still little sense of motion. Instead, the compositions suggest feelings of timelessness, that is, a place that is removed from the Western concept of linear time. Maybe the scenes are not so much static as they are a kind of figurative abstraction, capturing a sense of time as it might have been traditionally sensed in cyclical terms. Like abstract art, there is no narrative here, and little other frame of reference. Source askart.com

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