Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company – American Moderns and the West

Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company
MAY 22 TO SEPTEMBER 11, 2016


Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West is a traveling exhibition organized by the Harwood Museum of Art of the University of New Mexico that focuses on the life and times of one of the early 20th century’s most significant, yet under-recognized cultural figures: Mabel Dodge Luhan (1879–1962). Luhan brought modern art to northern New Mexico, putting Taos on the national and international maps of the avant-garde and creating a “Paris West” in the American Southwest. From 1918–1947, Luhan influenced legions of European and American “movers and shakers” to find in northern New Mexico’s physical and cultural landscapes new aesthetic, social, and cultural perspectives on modern life.

This exhibition will be the first to explore the impact Mabel Dodge Luhan had on the art, writings and activism of the 20th century American Modernism. D.H. Lawrence, Georgia O’Keeffe, Ansel Adams, John Marin, John Collier, Marsden Hartley, Paul Strand and Andrew Dasburg—among scores of other luminaries—were summoned to Taos by Mabel and subsequently found, in the remote high desert, intellectual and spiritual inspiration for their work. The work of these artists will be presented in relation to Pueblo and Hispano artists to examine the cultural exchange that formed a unique “Southwest Modernism”.


The Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico
May 22 to September 11, 2016

The Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, New Mexico
October 29, 2016 to January 22, 2017

Burchfield Penney Art Center, Buffalo, New York
March 10 to May 28, 2017

Mabel Dodge Luhan

Growing up in Gilded Age Buffalo, New York, Mabel Ganson Evans Dodge Sterne Luhan (February 26, 1879–August 13, 1962) became “a real creator of creators” as Marsden Hartley wrote to Alfred Stieglitz in 1914.

Mabel was a political, social, and cultural visionary, salon hostess, and collector of genius in almost every field of modern endeavor—painting, photography, drama, psychology, radical politics, and social reform. Luhan spent her adult life building utopian communities. First, as an expatriate in Florence (1905–12), where she attempted to recreate the Renaissance; next as a “New Woman” in Greenwich Village (1912–15), where she served as an honorary Vice President of the 1913 Armory Show and hosted one of the most famous salons in American history; and lastly, in Taos, her “New World” (1918–47), where she brought together a community of artists, writers, and social reformers whom she believed would convince their fellow-Americans of northern New Mexico’s potential for personal, aesthetic, and national revitalization.

Shortly after moving to Taos in 1918, Mabel met and married Antonio Lujan, a Taos Pueblo Indian. Together, they built an enclave that consisted of an 18-room Big House (and 5 guesthouses), the current day Mabel Dodge Luhan House. The visitors Luhan invited to Taos helped to shape an American Modernism as important—but far less acknowledged—than the one created in Paris by American expatriates after World War I. In Taos, West Coast luminaries crossed paths with East Coast Movers and Shakers (Luhan’s title for her New York years in her autobiography, Intimate Memories). The resulting synergy pluralized, indigenized, and expanded American modern art and culture.

More on Mabel


MaLin Wilson-Powell is the co-curator and artistic visionary for this exhibition. Beginning in 1999, Wilson-Powell served as the first Curator of Art after 1945 at the McNay Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas. She returned to Santa Fe, in 2004 as an independent art critic, lecturer, curator, editor, and educator. Previously, Wilson-Powell served as Curator of Exhibitions at the New Mexico Museum of Art, an assistant to Beaumont Newhall, and Director of the Jonson Gallery, at the University of New Mexico Art Museum. She holds an M.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology and Art History from the University of Arizona.

Dr. Lois Rudnick is the co-curator and historian for this exhibition. Dr. Rudnick is Professor Emerita of American Studies at the University of Massachusetts Boston, where she taught for 36 years. Rudnick is the author and preeminent scholar on Mabel Dodge Luhan, with eight books published on Luhan and her circle. She is an award winning teacher and recognized scholar of American modern culture. Rudnick holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University and a M.A. in Humanistic Studies from Tufts University.


The accompanying publication, Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns & the West was designed by David Skolkin and published by the Museum of New Mexico Press.

This publication is a beautiful full-color, hardbound book that further illustrates the story of Mabel Dodge Luhan, her impact on American Modernism, and the complex issues of Anglo patronage of Native American and Hispano art and culture. The publication includes an introduction by Dr. Wanda Corn and essays by Dr. Lois Rudnick, MaLin Wilson-Powell, and Carmella Padilla.

Trim: 9 x 11.5 inches
Pages: 220 pages
Illustrations: 120 color and 50 black-and-white illustrations
Hardcover $45.00
Available for sale in April

For inquiries about early orders, please contact the Harwood Museum Store Manager, Glory Ann Penington.

Slideshow images: 1. Nicolai Fechin. Mabel Dodge Luhan. 1927. Oil on canvas. Courtesy American Museum of Western Art—The Anschutz Collection, Denver, Colorado. Photograph by William J. O’Connor; 2. Victor Higgins. Winter Funeral. c. 1931. Oil on canvas. Harwood Museum of Art; 3. Marsden Hartley. An Abstract Arrangement of Indian Symbols. c. 1914–15. Oil on canvas. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; 4. Awa Tsireh (Alfonso Roybal). Untitled (Corn Dance), 1922–1926, Watercolor and pencil on paper, Courtesy School for Advanced Research. Photograph by Addison Doty; 5. Andrew Dasburg. Chantet Lane. Taos. 1926. Oil on canvas. Denver Art Museum Collection, Gift of Albert Wassenich by exchange; 6. Mabel Dodge Sterne (with dog). c. 1918. Taos, NM. Photo courtesy Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University; 7. Georgia O’Keeffe. Grey Cross with Blue, 1929. Oil on canvas. Albuquerque Museum of Art, Albuquerque, NM; 8. Maurice Sterne.