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Gene Kloss

 (1903 - 1996)
Gene Kloss was active/lived in New Mexico, California.  Gene Kloss is known for painted etchings-southwest subjects.

Gene Kloss

Biography from the Archives of askART

Born in Oakland, CA on July 27, 1903. Gene Glasier was introduced to etching by Perham Nahl at UC Berkeley where she graduated in 1924. After marrying poet Phillips Kloss in 1925, she furthered her art studies at the CSFA and CCAC. She continued spending winters in Berkeley after settling in Taos, NM in 1925. Nationally known for her etchings of Southwestern subjects, she also produced many watercolors and oils. Mrs. Kloss died in Taos on June 24, 1996.

Member: NA (1972); Calif. Society of Etchers; Calif. Society of PM; Taos AA; Philadelphia WC Club; Carmel AA.

Exh: San Francisco Art Association, 1925, 1937; Berkeley League of FA, 1926 (solo); Oakland Art Gallery, 1932 (solo), 1939 (prize); SFMA Inaugural, 1935; PAFA, 1936 (medal); Calif. Society of Etchers, 1934, 1940, 1941, 1944, 1949 (prizes); GGIE, 1939; Chicago Society of Etchers, 1940-54 (prizes); Tucson FA Ass'n, 1941 (prize); Philadelphia PM Club, 1944 (prize); Library of Congress, 1946 (prize); Society of American Graphic Artists, 1953 (prize); CGA, 1988 (solo). In: MM; NY Public Library; Library of Congress; Dallas Museum; Museum of NM; Museum of Tokyo; Smithsonian Inst.; NMAA; AIC; Carnegie Inst. (Pittsburgh); PAFA; The Hague (Netherlands); CGA.

Edan Hughes, "Artists in California, 1786-1940"
Interview with the artist or his/her family; Women Artists in America (Collins & Opitz); American Art Annual 1925; Who's Who in American Art 1936-70; Women Artists of the American West; Artists of the American West (Samuels); SF Chronicle, 8-11-1935, D3; Journal of the Print World, Fall 1996 (obituary) and summer 2003; Taos News, 7-25-1996 (obituary).

Nearly 20,000 biographies can be found in Artists in California 1786-1940 by Edan Hughes and is available for sale ($150). For a full book description and order information please click here.

Biography from The Owings Gallery
Gene Kloss arrived in Taos in 1925 while on a camping honeymoon trip with her husband, poet-composer Phillip Kloss.  Ms. Kloss brought with her very little other than her 60-pound etching press.  From that time until the 1940s, Kloss spent most of the year in Taos and wintered in Berkeley, until she and her husband settled permanently in New Mexico.

Kloss was born in Oakland, California in 1903 and established her reputation on the West Coast in the 20s and 30s with several one-woman shows of paintings and etchings in San Francisco and elsewhere.  Her reputation spread across the nation through her participation in highly successful group shows.  A writer for ArtNews wrote, "Gene Kloss is one of our most sensitive and sympathetic interpreters of the Southwest."  One critic called her a "landscape mythic," another a "portrait psychologist," but perhaps the highest praise came from a Taos Indian who said on looking at one of her etchings of a pueblo interior, "Yes, that is the way it was that night at our house."

Kloss worked predominantly in three media etching, oil, and watercolor but is best known for her prints of New Mexico subjects.  Her etchings demonstrate an imaginative command over the process.  The prints display a power and simplicity that make sensitive use of bold, black areas.  Frequently there is a minimum of middle tones while rather generous but strategically placed areas of white represent New Mexico light.  Despite their relatively small size, Kloss's landscape etchings capture quite convincingly the feeling of vast space associated with New Mexico's northern mountains.  She selectively animates the scene and dramatically calls attention to the schism between the slightness of man and the magnitude of his natural surroundings in the Southwest.  All of Kloss's compositions are energized by upward rising diagonals, the mark of her own affirmative disposition and of her response to the unique Taos landscape.  She would often say, "In this country everything lifts the trees, the mountains, the sky."

The body of her works has a consistent harmony in its balanced concern for the subject and for abstract principles of design. "I want the finished print to enable the viewer to see the design, the subject matter from across the room, at arm's length or under a magnifying glass also upside-down for satisfactory abstract design."  Whether realistic or illusionistic, a Kloss is remarkably free of detail.  As a pattern of line, shape and value, her work is imbued with the power of contrasts, the force of motion, and a grace which is distinctly Kloss.  Kloss never sketched or used a camera to record the images she saw in the pueblos.  Instead, she committed the feeling and the event to her mind as patterns as in music.  The observer in Gene Kloss was filled with sensitivity for the subject matter and an awareness of the musical rhythms of Indian rituals.  As she proclaimed, "There has always been a close alliance between my art and music"

Every Kloss etching was printed by the artist herself, and it was only in the late 70s that she bought a power-driven massive press built to her specifications. She was a meticulous craftswoman. She did not complete an edition in one printing. There may be years between the concept and the final print in an edition; yet in her inking, wiping and printing of the etching, there is no detectable difference between prints. Quality control of printing was essential in a Gene Kloss etching because her handling of etching ink during the print process was akin to painting. There are deep black areas, sharp whites as clean as fresh paper, and a range of grays. In all the seventy years she so successfully employed this medium, she did not once hand over the printing process to anyone else.

In 1950, Gene Kloss was elected an associate member of the National Academy of Design, and to full membership in 1972. However, Kloss elected not to follow her prints on their journeys. A true Westerner, the artist never went east of the Mississippi River. She remained content to stay in the West, where her remarkable career which spanned over seventy years had its source.

Education: University of California at Berkeley; California School of Fine Arts, San Francisco; College of Arts and Crafts, Oakland.

Media: aquatint; drypoint; etching; mezzotint; oil; watercolor

Awards: Associate Membership Award, California Society of Etchers, 1934; Eyre Gold Medal, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, 1936; Henry B. Shope Prize, Society of American Etchers, 1951; First Prize, Chicago Society of Etchers, 1952; Purchase Prize, 1961, Print Club of Albany; Anonymous Prize, National Academy of Design, 1961.

Selected Bibliography:

Adams, Clinton, Printmaking in New Mexico, 1880-1990. University of New Mexico Press, Albuquerque, 1991.

Bishop, Bill and Gail, "Gene Kloss, Fifty Years in Taos," Southwest Art, March, 1975.

Nelson, Mary Carroll, "The Legendary Artists of Taos." Watson-Guptill Publications, New York, 1980

Biography from Nedra Matteucci Galleries
Gene Kloss was born Alice Geneva Glasier in 1903 in Oakland, California. At that time, the area was still uncluttered by billboards, lights, and bridges, but oaks still grew around the city. Kloss graduated from Berkeley in 1924. Her instructor, Perham Nahl, was astonished by her first print, and predicted that she would be an etcher. She continued to study at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts, and in 1925, married Phillips Kloss, a writer. She changed her name, for simplicity, and because she believed that a less feminine name would serve her better in the art world.

The couple ventured west on their honeymoon. They entered New Mexico at sunset, and fell in love with the bare, beautiful, vast landscape. From that day forth, Gene Kloss said she considered herself a New Mexican. The couple established dual residence in Berkeley and Taos, and commuted each year. In Taos, they rented an old adobe house for ten dollars a month, for a decade. They cooked on a wood-burning stove, and carried water from a spring, a mile up the canyon. In the desert, Gene Kloss made prints with a secondhand Sturges etching press, weighing 1,200 pounds.

The couple kept their residence in California to care for their elderly mothers. When their two mothers died in 1965, they moved to Colorado, with the press in tow. They bought four acres above the Gunnison River. Eventually, due to allergies and gnats, they returned to their final home in Taos.

Kloss was not concerned with trends, or the financial value of art. Instead, she focused on creating beautiful depictions of the scenes she loved. She was an accomplished oil and watercolor painter, but her prints defined her career. Southwestern scenes, particularly of New Mexico, are common. Her work often contains a hidden light source, with long, sinewy shadows. Her etchings are unique and dramatic, containing high contrast as well as subtlety. During her 60 year career, Kloss created more than 600 prints.

Kloss is considered one of the most important artists of her time, as well as one of the major printmakers of the 20th century. Her work is found in many permanent collections, including the Metropolitan Museum, the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the Carnegie Institute.

Source: Kloss, Phillips, Gene Kloss Etchings. Santa Fe: Sunstone Press, 2000.

Biography from Thomas Nygard Gallery
Gene Kloss was born Alice Geneva Glasier in Oakland California in 1903. While growing up she was fortunate to experience the natural beauty of California. She next found a stimulating atmosphere at Berkeley, California where she took a seminar in etching. Her instructor was a perfectionist draftsman and was amazed at the first print she pulled from his huge hundred-year-old press. Enthusiastically he predicted she would be an etcher.

Kloss graduated with honors in art from the University of California at Berkeley in 1924. Next, she took a years term of study at the San Francisco School of Fine Arts. In 1924 she married Phillips Kloss, a writer and poet, and changed her name to Gene Kloss for phonetic reasons. Together they set out to explore the Southwest with a small etching press in their car.

Eventually dual residence was established in Taos and Berkeley. They gradually acquired forty acres of mesa land and built an adobe home and studio where they settled for life. Kloss found sketchable scenes everywhere. The main objective to her work was always recording her impressions of things she considered beautiful and important.

The mediums she primarily worked in were oil, watercolor and copperplate etchings. Etchings were her most prominent artistic achievement. Kloss developed a technique in etching which she called "painting," applying acid directly on the plate with fine Japanese brushes or pencils. This developed a quality for which her work was known: subtle, painted tones, grades of dark, bright halos of white that seem impossible to achieve in her chosen medium. She has been called "one of the most sensitive and sympathetic interpreters of the Southwest."

Gene Kloss was productive for over fifty years. Honors include placement of her work in permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum, Library of Congress, Carnegie Institute, Smithsonian Institute, and San Francisco Art Museum. In addition to being elected a member of the National Academy of Design, she received many national awards for her etchings.

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery
Gene Kloss (Alice Geneva Glasier) was born in 1903 in Oakland, California. She received a Bachelors Degree of Arts from the Univeristy of California, Berkeley in 1924 and studied at the California School of Fine Arts from 1924-1925. She began visiting Taos, New Mexico in 1925 with her husband, poet and composer Phillip Kloss, bringing little other than her sixty pound portable printing place, which they set in concrete near their campsite. They would spend the majority of the year in Taos, wintering in Berkeley, until they moved there permanently as year-round residents in 1945.

It was as an artistic translator of New Mexico that Kloss is best known. Though an oil and watercolor painter of some renown, it is her prints, with their high contrast and rising diagonal lines that define her career stylistically. Kloss was a meticulous tinkering, constantly trying new methods in an attempt to get exactly the effect she was trying to achieve. She developed an etching form that she called "painting", in which she painted acid directly onto the etching plate, allowing for a wide variety of tones and smooth color gradients. With this technique, she made extremely unique prints, characterized by the sharp forms of the mountains and the haloed white regions of light.

Kloss' work made her quite famous in her own lifetime, with numerous one-artist shows at major museums and pieces placed in the permanent collection of such institutions as the Metropolitan Museum, Library of Congress, Carnegie Institute and San Francisco Art Museum. She was elected a member of the National Academy of Design, was exhibited in Paris alongside Blumenschein, Sloan and O'Keefe, was included in "Fine Prints of the Year" and "100 Best Prints of the Year" on more than one occasion, and had her pieces distributed in schools in New Mexico for the WPA.

Biography from Annex Galleries
Gene Kloss, painter and printmaker, was born Alice Geneva Glasier in Oakland, California. She studied at the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with honors in art in 1924, and the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. With the encouragement of her professor, Perham Nahl, she began etching in 1927.

In 1925 she married Phillips Kloss and shortened her name, adopting the masculine form of her middle name so that her work would be viewed with an unprejudiced eye and entry into exhibitions would not be denied her.  That same year, she first visited Taos. She and Phillips divided their time between Berkeley and Taos, hauling her Sturges press each way until settling permanently in Taos in 1945.

During the Depression, Kloss was a resident of Taos and made prints for the PWAP and WPA/FAP in New Mexico and, as there was no graphic workshop in New Mexico, she worked in her studio. S he maintained memberships in numerous organizations including the Society of American Etchers, Chicago Society of Etchers, California Society of Etchers, Carmel Art Association, Prairie Print Makers, New Mexico Art League and the Philadelphia Watercolor Club.

In 1950, Kloss was elected an Associate in the National Academy of Design and to full Academician in 1972.  She received numerous honors for her prints, which were included in Fine Prints of the Year and 100 Best Prints of the Year.

Repositories of her work include the Carnegie Institute, Art Institute of Chicago, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Smithsonian Institute, San Francisco Museum of Art, Dallas Museum, Oakland Museum, and the Museum of New Mexico in Santa Fe.

Biography from Altermann Galleries and Auctioneers, III
Born: Oakland, California 1903

Taos landscape etcher, painter in oil and watercolor.

Gene Kloss received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of California in 1924. She studied at the California School of Fine Arts 1924-25, becoming a summer visitor to Taos, New Mexico in 1925 while living in Oakland. In 1929, she became a permanent resident of Taos. She began winning awards in the 1930's, with one-artist museum shows beginning in the 1950s. Her work was included in "Fine Prints of the Year" and "100 Best Prints of the Year." In 1938, her work was exhibited in Paris as a leading New Mexico artist along with Blumenschein, O'Keeffe, and Sloan. Her prints of New Mexico landscape and genre scenes are her most popular, displaying a sensitive simplicity with sharp contrasts in tonality to emphasize the immensity of the West.

Resource: SAMUELS' Encyclopedia of ARTISTS of THE AMERICAN WEST,
Peggy and Harold Samuels, 1985, Castle Publishing

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About  Gene Kloss

Born:  1903 - Oakland, California
Died:   1996 - Taos, New Mexico
Known for:  painted etchings-southwest subjects

Essays referring to
Gene Kloss

Taos pre-1940