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 Homer Dean Boss  (1882 - 1956)

About: Homer Dean Boss
 

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Lived/Active: New Mexico/New York/Massachusetts / Mexico      Known for: western, sporting scene, Indian portrait and landscape painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Born in Blandford, Massachusetts, Homer Boss was a much praised painter of western scenes and Indian portraits and teacher in New York City in the early 20th Century, and was known for breaking away from 19th century academic standards.

He studied with Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase at the Chase School in New York, and in Philadelphia as a student of Thomas Anschutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

He was part of "The Fifteen Group," students of Henri including Edward Hopper who exhibited together and rebelled against the strictures of the National Academy.

When Henri went to Europe in 1910, he turned his Henri School over to Boss, but when Henri returned, the two had a disagreement, so Boss renamed it the Independent School and continued there as a teacher.  From 1922 to 1941, he taught anatomy classes at the Art Student's League and also at the Parsons School of Fine Art and the New York School of Design for Women.

His lectures on anatomy were much sought after because of his technique of building muscles of plasticine on a full human skeleton with a nude model demonstrating the muscle action.

Beginning 1925, he went regularly to New Mexico.  He completed a series of Indian portraits and landscapes that likely included Arizona as he had a reputation for the skill of his desert landscapes.   Howard Devree, in a review of the for the New York Times Art Digest, March 1, 1933, wrote that Boss "has succeeded in presenting some of the amazing desert formations, and has produced cloud effects, contours of rock and brilliance of color calculated to cause the dwellers among artificial canyons of steel and stone to raise both eyebrows." (Dawdy 44-45)

In 1933, he settled permanently on a ranch in Santa Cruz, New Mexico, where he died of emphysema of 1956.

Sources include:
Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. III

Biography from Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery Santa FeTucson:
Born in Blandford, Massachusetts, Homer Boss pursued art from a very young age. His family moved to Springfield, MA in the 1890s.  Boss worked there as a die setter for Moore Drop Forge, but left for New York City in 1900 to find art training.

In New York he studied at the New York School of Art, which was formerly known as the Chase School after William Merritt Chase who joined the faculty in 1902. Boss also studied with Thomas Anschutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia.

Also joining the faculty of the New York School of Art in 1902 was Robert Henri (1865-1929).  In 1909, Henri established his own school of art, named the Henri School of Art.  Homer was one of the "Fifteen Group" of Henri's students which included Edward Hopper and consisted of those artists who rebelled against the traditional academic training of the National Academy.  In 1910 Henri secretly sold his school to Homer Boss, while continuing to provide classroom critiques. Henri then left for Europe. Upon his return he had a disagreement with Boss who then renamed the school the Independent School and continued to teach there.

Boss' two main teachers, Chase and Henri, had very different styles.  Chase believed in delicate detail and visual accuracy, while Henri encouraged spontaneity and fat brushwork.  But Boss used the training in different techniques to develop his own style.

Starting in 1925 Boss made regular trips to New Mexico.  He earned a reputation for doing skilled landscapes of the Southwest desert.  In a review printed in the New York Times Art Digest in 1933, Howard Devree wrote that Boss "has succeeded in presenting some of the amazing desert formations, and has produced cloud effects, contours of rock and brilliance of color calculated to cause the dwellers among artificial canyons of steel and stone to raise both eyebrows."

He eventually settled on a ranch in Santa Cruz, New Mexico in 1933, and died there of emphysema in 1956.  His work is in numerous collections which include the Georgia Museum of Art and the Museum of New Mexico.

Bibliography
1. Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
2. Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. III

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at registrar@AskART.com.


Homer Boss is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
New York Armory Show of 1913

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