John DePuy Last of the Moderns
painting on cover: Rosebud Pass (Navajo MT-Utah), 46 x 42, oil on canvas, 1982
Last of the Moderns These oils on canvas are modern DePuy's that continue to capture the spiritual through expression of landscapes.
FINE ART Early Modern to Contemporary 1335 Gusdorf Rd Suite i .Taos NM . 87571 . 203FINEART.com . 575.751.1262
John DePuy John DePuy has said that in Taos, with the exception of Ted Egri's work, "The Painting was not political, the lifestyles may have been, but not the painting." Non-politicized art was not unique to Taos. Catalogs from the University of Illinois "Contemporary American Painting and Sculpture" series show an interest in war and political themes just after World War ll, changing to less political and increasingly abstract imagery as the exhibitions continued into the 1960s. The Taos Moderns were more often preoccupied with the "new" than with politics in their art. In 1835, Alexis de Toequeville described this American fascination with the new, a preoccupation that resides in the core of the American character. DePuy noted that by the early 1950s the Taos Moderns thought they had found "the ultimate philosophy of art." How could they not have been excited about the great wave of modernist expression in which they found themselves? DePuy explained:
I think we all felt in those days that we were the primitives of a new art. And we were sadly disillusioned. I think that all abstract expressionists expected that their work would develop into a new art. There was no nihilism, no cynicism [in Taos}, there was the sense of the beginning of something new. I think this is why Rothko committed suicide. . . .Rothko, who was in many ways the master of that period, felt that his work would be the beginning. . . . I think he felt that he was establishing a tradition that would last a hundred years, and then he realized that was impossible."
When DePuy first moved to Taos, still under the influence of his teacher, Hans Hofmann, he painted non-objectively. Over time, Hofmann's influence receded, but his advice to paint from nature remained. For DePuy, the influence on art in New Mexico was "mainly the land" and (as with Ribak) the inspiration Pueblo Indians provided in their connection with the land. In DePuy's work, the purely surface qualities of the land are often eclipsed by the land's sheer power. Subtle gradations of color on walls or in the sky or on limitless plains form a shifting, lively backdrop for suns which shimmer and rivers which slide away and mesas which stand darkly. DePuy wrote, "This land speaks of another time sense than our Western-European lineal time." By this he refers to the Wester concept whereby time proceeds from one definable moment directly to a later, equally definable moment. The land DePuy began painting by the mid 1950s exists within spatial time, where moments do not proceed to any destination but repeat endlessly in the regular cycle of days, years, millennia, always returning, circular rather than linear. As such, nature may contradict our expectations.
David L. Witt "Taos Moderns: Art of the New" 1992
Ute Peak, New Mexico, 26 x 32" oil on canvas, 2011
Thunder River Falls, 48 x 34" oil on canvas, 1999
Cedar Mesa, UT, 30 x 35" oil on canvas, 2015
Cloud Over Mesa, 24 x 33" oil on canvas, 1999
Triangle Arch, Utah, 27 x 38" oil on canvas, 1998
Rio Grande Gorge, 28 x 34" oil on canvas, 2014
Canyon Image, 31 x 36" oil on canvas, 2005
Lost Canyon Series, 34 x 27" oil on canvas, 2000
These oils on canvas are modern DePuy's that continue to capture the spiritual through expression of landscapes.