Organizations* : AWS, NA, SI, SIA, Taos SA
A founder of the Taos Art Colony, Blumenschein became one of the best-known painters of pueblo Indian genre in the Southwest.
He was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of a prominent musician, and thus had early exposure to both music and art. Blumenschein attended the College of Music and The Art Academy in Cincinnati, and then went to New York to join the Art Students League. In New York, he supported himself as a violinist for the symphony and in 1894, played first violinist under conductor Antonin Dvorak.
One year later in 1895, Blumenschein studied in Paris at the Julian Academy, where he became a close friend of both Joseph Henry Sharp and Bert Phillips. Sharp told Blumenschein and Phillips about the marvelous landscape in New Mexico and encouraged them to join him there.
Back in New York, Blumenschein shared a studio with Phillips. In 1898, the two of them traveled to New Mexico, and when their wagon wheel broke near Taos they decided to settle where fate had landed them. This adventure was the beginning of the Taos Art Colony, a group composed of eastern artists who depicted the New Mexican landscape and pueblo Indians.
In the Southwest, Blumenschein’s style changed. His paintings became brighter, and his earlier illustration style became one that was more mystical and intuitive of Indian subjects. His later work had especially dense pigment because he had trouble finishing work, and painted it over and over.
At the time, Blumenschein was one of the best known of his peers. He traveled widely, staying in touch with art movements throughout the country. He was considered quite intellectual because of his articulations and interest in stimulating discussions of art theories.