Laura Gilpin - 6/1/2017

Fred E. Mang, Jr., Laura Gilpin taking photographs along dirt road, 1971 
Courtesy Palace of the Governors Photo Archives (NMHM/DCA)

That Santa Fe would become a popular destination for photographers should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited. The abundant sunshine, the gorgeous landscape and the cultural diversity provide the elements to some of the most renown American photographs. One of the earliest photographers to call Santa Fe home was the late, great Laura Gilpin. Her senstive portraits of American Indians and southwestern landscapes were popular during her lifetime and continue to endear people to this day. 

Laura Gilpin, Storm from La Bajada Hill, New Mexico, 1946, gelatin silver print, 16 x 20 in.
Collection of the New Mexico Museum of Art. Museum purchase, 1976 (3635.23PH)
Photo by Blair Clark © 1979 Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Forth Worth, Texas

Her Colorado upbringing instilled an appreciation for the western landscape which expanded when Gilpin visited the Museum of Art on a stop in Santa Fe on the way to Mexico with her father. Her early works featured portraits and the vistas of Colorado Springs. After a 1922 trip to Europe, Gilpin experimented more with sharp-focused photography, and became interested in creating photography books. In 1924, the Pictorial Photographers of America recognized Gilpin with her first New York show. Two years later she had her first of several one-woman exhibitions held here. Gilpin settled in Santa Fe in 1946 to work on a book project photographing the Rio Grande in its entirety. By the time of her death in 1979 she had been honored with a New Mexico Governor's Award for Excellence in the Arts, a major traveling exhibition sponsored by the Western Association of Art Museums, an honorary doctorate from the University of New Mexico and countless other awards. Posthumously she continues to be the subject of solo exhibitions, books, and, most recently, a plaque on the sidewalk just outside of the museum.

Gilpin's work will be included in our centennial photography exhibition that opens on November 25, 2017.

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