Discussing the disastrous effects of indifference, one of these painters said to me,
‘The brush would have dropped from my hand if it hadn’t been for Raymond Jonson.’
— Elaine de Kooning
In 1934, Raymond Jonson joined the faculty at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque. Although a Santa Fe resident since 1924, in 1950, he moved to Albuquerque to run the Jonson Gallery, which he continued to do after retiring from teaching in 1954. Jonson’s interest in establishing a gallery in Albuquerque reflected his ideas regarding the function of art and its proper care. Central objectives included insuring that such a collection would be shared with the public and cultivating a dynamic, supportive environment for artists, students, and the larger local community.
After settling in New Mexico, Jonson continued to loosely reference the landscape and natural forms in his paintings, in terms of composition, design, and color; however, over time he began to gravitate to an increasingly abstract mode of representation. By the 1940s, he was producing completely abstract images. Jonson’s goal was to create an art free from subject matter whereby the painted image became an index of the medium and the ideas generating it, and was not a mere mimetic representation of nature. Instead, he aimed to create images that provoked sensations and feelings.
Jonson’s activities invigorated Albuquerque’s arts scene. In addition to teaching, curating, and making work, he came into contact with artists, such as Elaine DeKooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Josef Albers, and Agnes Martin, many of whom gravitated to New Mexico to experience the local landscape and/or to study or work at the University of New Mexico. The Transcendental Painting Group, for instance, formed around Jonson in 1938 and its presence drew artists to New Mexico well into the 1950s.
This exhibition focuses on Raymond Jonson’s activities in Albuquerque from 1934 when he began working at the University of New Mexico through 1978 when he produced his final painting, and includes a selection of works by his students and peers. The exhibition is part of the larger citywide On the Map exhibition
program highlighting the arts in Albuquerque.
— Ray Hernández-Durán, Interim Curator, University Art Museum, University of New Mexico
In memory of Robert “Chip” Ware, who curated many exhibitions in the Jonson Gallery for young artists and artists of New Mexico honoring the vision of Raymond Jonson.
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Cycles of Science – Chemistry, 1934, Oil on canvas, 80 x 37 inches, 82.221.1910
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Spiral Trilogy – III, 1936, Oil on canvas, 31 x 27 inches, 82.221.0291
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Life Cycle – Birth (Casein Tempera No. 2), 1940, Casein tempera on canvas, 36 x 42 inches, 82.221.1902
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Life Cycle – Fulfillment (Casein Tempera No. 3), 1940, Casein tempera on canvas, 36 x 42 inches, 82.221.1903
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Pictographical Composition No. 9, 1946, Oil on Masonite, 28 x 24 inches, 82.221.0166
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Pictographical Composition No. 7 (Oil No. 17), 1946, Oil on Masonite, 28 x 36 inches, 82.221.0474
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Polymer No. 39, 1964, Acrylic on board, 60 x 42 inches, 82.221.0209
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Polymer No. 33, 1968, Acrylic on Masonite, 40 x 30 inches, 82.221.0483
Raymond Jonson (American, 1891-1992), Polymer No. 6, 1974, Acrylic on Masonite, 42 x 33 inches, 82.221.0634
Rita Deanin Abbey (American, b. 1930), Untitled, 1954, Charcoal on paper, 25 x 19 inches, 82.221.1740
Garo Z. Antreasian (American, b. 1922), Untitled, 1963, Pastel on paper, 38 x 24 inches, 82.221.1749
Ed Garman (American, 1914-2004), Painting No. 240, 1963, Oil on Masonite, 24 x 24 inches, 82.221.0707
William Vaughn Howard (American, 1921-1986), Untitled, 1952, Duco on Masonite, 40 x 30 inches, 82.221.1713