Morning Smokes
1927
8" x 8"
Framed: 19" x 18 1/2"
Works on Paper, wood engraving, Edition of 75
Region: New Mexico
Signed and dated lower right
A major figure in the history of 20th century New Mexico art, Howard Norton Cook was a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. In the early 1920s he studied with Georg Bridgman and Joseph Pennell at the Art Students League in New York and traveled extensively in Europe and Asia. In 1926 he was commissioned by ‘Forum’ magazine to travel to New Mexico to produce illustrations for their serialized version of Willa Cather’s ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop.’ Between 1926 and ’27 Cook created a series of woodblocks and etchings that are recognized as some of the masterpieces of New Mexico printmaking. He met his wife, the artist Barbara Latham, in Taos and the couple relocated permanently to New Mexico in 1935.

Cook’s iconic print ‘Morning Smokes’ is an example of the artist at the height of his powers. To achieve the extremely fine line work in this print Cook used the wood engraving technique—carving against the grain of the wood. The result is simultaneously romantic and realist, precise but abstract—a classic modernist New Mexico image.

Cook specified edition sizes for his self-pulled prints but he did not always fulfill the edition. For this work, only 50 were printed from a planned edition of 75.

About the Artist
(1901 - 1980)
A major figure in the history of 20th century New Mexico art, Howard Norton Cook was a native of Springfield, Massachusetts. In the early 1920s he studied with George Bridgman and Joseph Pennell at the Art Students League in New York on a scholarship, where he made connections with fellow students, such as Max Weber and Andrew Dasburg. In the 1920s, Cook worked as an illustrator for several well-known magazines, including Harper’s, Scribner’s, Survey, Atlantic Monthly, Forum, and Century, work that allowed him to travel all over the world.

In 1926 he was commissioned by ‘Forum’ magazine to travel to New Mexico to produce illustrations for their serialized version of Willa Cather’s ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop.’

Between 1926 and ’27 Cook created a series of woodblocks and etchings that are recognized as some of the masterpieces of New Mexico printmaking. He met his wife, the artist Barbara Latham, in Taos and the couple relocated permanently to New Mexico in 1935.

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