New Mexico Museum of Art

Gustave Baumann and New Mexico

August 04, 2015


Treasured New Mexico Artist’s range of works on view

Few artists are as closely identified with Santa Fe as is Gustave Baumann; his art delighting viewers for almost a century. The New Mexico Museum of Art, the world’s largest repository of Gustave Baumann material, will show some of these works on paper, paintings, and prints, as well as some of his beloved marionettes in Gustave Baumann and New Mexico. The exhibition opens on Friday, August 14, 2015 and runs through December 27, 2015.

Gustave Baumann and New Mexico highlights the profound influence the artist’s move to New Mexico had on both his life and on his work. Baumann (1881-1971) left Chicago’s grit, grime, and rapid modernization—and a job as a commercial artist in which he was clearly disillusioned—for the wide open spaces and perceived freedoms of what would become his adopted home. His work reflects the southwestern landscape, cultures, regional traditions and rituals. Reminiscing in El Palacio on his early days in the Land of Enchantment, Baumann wrote, “New Mexico is an easy place to call home… It is all completely unfamiliar country that you somehow can’t identify as being in these United States.” (pgs. 22-23, Vol. 78, No. 1, 1971)

Gustave Baumann has a long-standing connection to the New Mexico Museum of Art. Visiting Santa Fe from Taos, his first stopping place in the state, he visited the newly opened Art Galleries of The Museum of New Mexico in October of 1918. There, he met Paul Walter, the curator, who, in the course of a few conversations, offered him a studio space in the basement of the building and telling Baumann, “If you need the wherewithal, tell me how much and we’ll go to the bank and get it.” And in Santa Fe Baumann remained, marrying Jane, having a daughter, Ann, for the rest of his life.

Baumann’s time in New Mexico inspired his production of hundreds of woodblock prints and the creation of sixty-five marionettes, for which he is justifiably famous. Also on view will be two oil paintings—rarely seen, and studies for carving and building the complicated and magical puppets.

Two related Baumann public programs.

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 at 1pm with Cristina Masoliver Join us in the galleries for a discussion on how the replicas were created and see the momentous moment when Cristina Masoliver of Los Titiriteros introduces one of her puppets to a Baumann replica.

Over a twenty year period, Bumann created 65 marionettes; however he was not a puppeteer, leaving the actual performances to Jane and Teatro Duende. In 1932 the Baumann Marionette Christmas Show at the Museum became a cherished community tradition. The last public performance during his lifetime was in 1959 at the Museum of International Folk Art. For thirty four years the marionettes were tucked away in storage and in a fragile sad state, but continuing the performances would kill them. The solution was to create replicas created by the capable hands of Los Titiriteros, a Taos-based puppet company directed by Cristina Masoliver.

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20 at 1pm The Holiday Open House is a round-robin of puppet plays, art making projects, photos with Santa Claus, and other activities.  Puppet plays are half-hour long, showing at 1:00pm and 2:30pm.  Photos with the Baumann Santa Claus marionette sitting on your lap are at 1:30pm and 3:00pm.  Create your own puppet character all afternoon.  Refreshments are served.  Songs are sung.

For a short video about the puppet plays, click here.


Media Contacts:

Steve Cantrell, PR Manager, New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs

New Mexico Museum of Art



Merry Scully, Head of Curatorial Affairs



Founded in 1917 as the Art Gallery of the Museum of New Mexico, the New Mexico Museum of Art has been presenting innovative arts programming in downtown Santa Fe for close to 100 years. At its founding the museum collected and exhibited artworks by noted artists from New Mexico and elsewhere. This tradition continues today with a wide array of exhibitions and a significant collection featuring work from the world’s leading artists. Today, as at its founding, the New Mexico Museum of Art strives to bring the art of New Mexico to the world and the art of the world to New Mexico.

The New Mexico Museum of Art is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs. Museum exhibitions and programs are supported by donors to the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and its Director’s Leadership Fund, Exhibitions Development Fund, and Fund for Museum Education.

The Museum is located at 107 West Palace Avenue, Santa Fe, New Mexico, just off the downtown Plaza. 24 Hr. Recorded Message: (505) 476-5072; Front desk: (505) 476-5041. November through April the museum is open Tuesdays - Sundays: 10 am-5 pm and open for free 5 to 8 pm on the first Friday of the month. May through October the museum is open 7 days a week 10 am-5 pm and is open for free every Friday night from 5 to 8 pm. The Museum is closed on Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Weather conditions may require the Museum to close; you can check with the Front Desk at 505-476-5041. Visit us on the web for the latest updates at




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