Visionary Modern: Raymond Jonson Trilogies, Cycles, and Portraits

On display in the UNM Art Museum’s Main and Van Deren Coke Galleries, from August 31st through November 24th, 2021. The UNMAM will be open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM.

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Violet Light (The Artist’s Wife, Vera), Raymond Jonson, 1918. Oil on canvas. Bequest of Raymond Jonson, Raymond Jonson Collection, 82.221.0028.

It is with great enthusiasm that we announce the reopening of the UNM Art Museum on August 31st, 2021. After an 18-month closure due to the pandemic, it is an honor to bring art and people together again.

This Fall, we invite you to view Visionary Modern: Raymond Jonson Trilogies, Cycles, and Portraits, an exhibition surveying the long career of Raymond Jonson (1891-1982), one of New Mexico’s leading abstract painters of the twentieth century and a former educator at the University of New Mexico.

The exhibition will be on display in the UNM Art Museum’s Main and Van Deren Coke Galleries from August 31 to November 24, 2021.

Visionary Modern contains fourteen trilogies and cycles, each containing three paintings, that were made between 1918-1973. Jonson embraced the notion that the sum is greater than its parts, creating multi-canvas works because he believed a single painting could not represent vast subjects like the Grand Canyon. He also used trilogies and cycles to express the depth of feeling he experienced while exploring and living in the Western landscape.

Light – A Trilogy, Raymond Jonson, 1966. Acrylic on Masonite. 82.221.0499.

Visionary Modern traces Jonson’s transformation as a painter of recognizable subjects to a master of non-objective abstraction. His subject matter evolved from dramatic portraits of people in his life to the depiction of his spiritual concerns, time, rhythm, balance, and energy. Jonson’s paintings celebrate the potential of abstract art to communicate both deep emotions and conceptual themes.

Raymond Jonson’s legacy at the University of New Mexico is threefold: as an educator, a curator, and a living modernist mentor around which a strong community of artists was built in Albuquerque. His contributions to the University community include more than 600 paintings, drawings, and prints donated to the UNM Art Museum, making it the world’s largest repository of Jonson’s work. In an effort to continue this legacy, the UNM Art Museum is launching the Raymond Jonson Web Portal. This online resource documents Jonson’s life and career and is richly illustrated with personal snapshots, journal entries, and images of his artwork. We invite you to explore the Raymond Jonson Web Portal, launching online on August 31.

The UNM Art Museum will be open Tuesday – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00, effective on August 31, 2021. Per the University of New Mexico policy, masks are required for all individuals indoors on campus locations. UNM is following federal and state guidelines for COVID-19 and visitors understand and assume the health risks with visiting in-person during the pandemic. 

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Press Kit

For more information or press inquiries, please contact Devin Geraci, Manager of Communications & Audience Engagement, at or (505) 277-6773.

Please be sure to credit artists’ work using the included image credit guide. Click to download:

Visionary Modern: Raymond Jonson Trilogies, Cycles, and Portraits Press Release

Visionary Modern: Raymond Jonson Trilogies, Cycles, and Portraits Images