Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

Canyon, TX



Berninghaus: Taos Founder/Taos Son

Continuing to honor the centennial of the founding of the Taos, New Mexico, art colony, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, Canyon, Texas, has organized an exhibition opening November 28, 1998. "Berninghaus: Taos Founder/Taos Son" focuses on the work of the Taos father/son artists, Oscar E. and J. Charles Berninghaus.

Born in Saint Louis, Missouri, Oscar E. Berninghaus (1874-1952) worked as a printing apprentice and studied art at the Saint Louis School of Fine Arts and Washington University at night. He became a successful commercial artist in Saint Louis and first saw·Taos in 1899 while makings sketches for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad's narrow gauge "chili line" in northern New Mexico. The artist summered in Taos annually until a permanent move there in 1925. In July 1915 Berninghaus and five other artists (Ernest L. Blumenschein, E. Irving Couse, W. Herbert Dunton, Bert Geer Phillips, and Joseph Henry Sharp) founded the Taos Society of Artists which focused international attention on the New Mexican village and ensured its place in American art history. Berninghaus exhibited his paintings of Taos at the annual exhibitions of the Art Institute of Chicago, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and the National Academy of Design. His works are found in most major Western art museums in the United States.

Oscar's son Charles Berninghaus (1905-1988) first came to Taos with his father in 1910 accompanying his father on sketching trips. He studied at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Art Students League, summering annually at Taos until moving there permanently in 1927. Charles assisted his father in painting murals for the Missouri State Capitol in 1923 and eventually became an acclaimed painter in his own right, preferring to paint plein air landscapes and still lifes. Charles once said one had to paint swiftly in Taos as the light changed quickly and a slow painter could easily lose the mood.

The Berninghaus Family Collection will form the foundation for the exhibition of approximately sixty works borrowed from both public and private collections. In addition to the Panhandle-Plains collection of works by Oscar Berninghaus, public lenders to the exhibition will include the Museum of the Southwest, Midland, Texas; the San Antonio Art.League, San Antonio, Texas; Texas Tech University Museum, Lubbock, Texas; and the XIT Museum, Dalhart, Texas. "Berninghaus: Taos Founder/Taos Son" will continue through February 7, 1999 and conclude the Museum's year-long Taos Art Colony Centennial Celebration.

Read more in Resource Library about the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 11/26/10

Search for more articles and essays on American art in Resource Library. See America's Distinguished Artists for biographical information on historic artists.

This page was originally published in 1998 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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