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Thomas Benrimo

(1887 - 1958)
Thomas Benrimo was born in San Francisco in 1887 and became one of the most significant and widely known members of the Taos Modernists. Benrimo received no formal art education until he joined the Art Students League of New York. There, he was particularly influenced by the modernist paintings at the 1913 Armory Show. Benrimo worked as a designer of theater sets and as a commercial artist for many years. He also taught at the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn from 1935-1939 before moving to Taos, New Mexico in 1939.

Over the course of his career, Benrimo’s work moved from strong Cubist and Surrealist influences to a more abstract style. Benrimo believed that "abstract art departs from reality and nature only to draw far-reaching conclusions about reality. A legitimate abstract work of art can be produced only on the basis of a profound knowledge of nature." His work was thus profoundly influenced by, but not derivative of, the stark, colorful landscapes of the Southwest. He lived and painted in Taos until his death in 1958.

Benrimo’s work was included in the 1954 “Younger American Artists” show at the Guggenheim Museum, and has been exhibited all over the world, including shows at the Art Institute of Chicago, the Toledo Museum of Art, the Carnegie Institute of Pittsburgh, the San Francisco Palace of the Legion of Honor, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Museum of Modern Art in New York. His work is also included in the permanent collections of the Cincinnati Museum of Art, the Denver Art Museum, the Fort Worth Museum of Modern Art, and the Whitney Museum, among other public and private collections.

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