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According to Virginia Couse Leavett, “In The Kachina Maker, Ben Lujan, Couse’s favorite model from Taos Pueblo, dressed in Plains leggings and moccasins, is shown squatting on the hearth of an adobe fireplace along with four Hopi Kachina dolls. The small paint pots at Ben’s feet suggest that he has been decorating the doll that he holds in his hands. This painting, with its mixture of cultural references, obviously is not intended as ethnography. Instead, it is conceptual, representing both the religious and the artistic aspects of Indian life in general.

“In expressing his concept, Couse’s primary concern was with composition, light, color, and texture.

“The setting, although it suggests a Pueblo interior, is actually the fireplace that Couse built into the corner of his studio in order to paint the effects of firelight on the human figure. As in many Couse paintings, the challenge he sets for himself is to record various qualities of light. There are two light sources in The Kachina Maker. One comes from the fire on the right, spreading a warm glow onto Ben’s face and arms and casting shadows onto the hearth. The second comes from a window subtly indicated on the left. The cool white light of daylight from the window spreads onto the figure’s back and across the floor. These opposing values are united within a circle encompassing the curve of the fireplace opening, the model’s back, and the edge of the hearth.

The Kachina Maker was exhibited in the 1921/22 traveling exhibition of the Taos Society of Artists and was sold out of that exhibit in Indianapolis.”

The Kachina Maker was reproduced by Brown and Bieglow, 1922.

PROVENANCE:
H. Lieber Co., Indianaplis, 1922
Larry Kravet, Hewlitt Bay Park, New York
Property from a Private Collection

EXHIBITIONS:
Taos Society of Artists exhibition circuit, 1921-22

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