G u s t a v e - B a u m a n n - - 1 8 8 1 - 1 9 7 1

Modernist Abstration,


Gustave Baumann was a renowned printmaker and a leading figure of the American color woodcut revival whose exquisite craftsmanship and vibrant imagery captured the essence of the Southwest.

Baumann, the son of a craftsman, immigrated to the United States from Germany with his family when he was ten, settling in Chicago. From 1897 to 1904, he studied in the evenings at the Art Institute of Chicago, working in a commercial printmaking shop during the day. In 1905, he returned to Germany to attend the Kunstwerbe Schule in Munich, where he decided on a career in printmaking. He returned to Chicago in 1906 and worked for a few years as a graphic designer of labels.

Baumann made his first prints in 1909 and exhibited them at the Art Institute of Chicago the following year. In 1910, he moved to the artists’ colony in Nashville, Indiana, where he explored the creative and commercial possibilities of a career as a printmaker. In 1915, he exhibited his color woodcuts at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, winning the gold medal.

Among Baumann’s ongoing commercial activities was his work for the Packard Motor Car Company from 1914 to 1920 where he produced designs, illustrations, and color woodcuts until 1923.

In 1919, Baumann’s printmaking work dominated the important exhibition of American color woodcuts at the Detroit Institute of Arts. Twenty-six of his prints were included, far more than the works of any other artist. A set of his blocks, a preparatory drawing, and seven progressive proofs complemented the exhibition. That same year, Baumann worked in New York and, over the summer, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. His airy images of Cape Cod employed soft, pastel colors and occasionally showed the influence of the white-line woodcut technique.

Many of his Chicago artist friends had traveled to the southwest, and Baumann became intrigued by their paintings, souvenirs, and stories of an exotic place named Taos, New Mexico. In the summer of 1918, he spent the summer in Taos sketching and painting before visiting Santa Fe. Paul Walter, the director of the Museum of New Mexico, offered him a studio in the museum's basement. Inspired by the rugged beauty of the Southwest—the vibrant colors and dramatic landscapes of the region became a central theme in his work, influencing his artistic style and subject matter for the remainder of his career. Later in the decade, he traveled to the West Coast and made prints of the California landscape.

Baumann's prints became synonymous with the Southwest, capturing the spirit of its place in America's identity with a unique sense of authenticity and reverence. His iconic images of desert vistas, pueblo villages, and indigenous cultures served as visual tributes to the region's rich cultural heritage, earning him a dedicated following among collectors and curators alike.

Baumann completed every step of the printmaking process himself, cutting each block, mixing the inks, and printing every impression on the handmade paper he selected. His dedication to true craftsmanship and his commitment to preserving the integrity of his artistic vision earned him widespread acclaim and recognition within the art world. About the vibrant colors he produced, Baumann stated, “A knowledge of color needs to be acquired since they don’t all behave the same way when ground or mixed...careful chemistry goes into the making of colors, with meticulous testing for permanence. While complicated formulae evolve new colors, those derived from Earth and metal bases are still the most reliable.”

In the 1930s, Baumann became interested in puppet theater. He designed and carved his own marionettes and established a little traveling company. From 1943 to 1945, the artist carved an altarpiece for the Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe.

In 1952, a retrospective exhibition of Baumann's prints was mounted at the New Mexico Museum of Fine Arts. Throughout his prolific career, the artist executed nearly four hundred color woodcuts and his work is now represented in over 100 museums in the United States and Great Britain including the Albuquerque Museum, Akron Art Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Cleveland Museum of Art, Denver Art Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, New Mexico History Museum, New Mexico Museum of Art, New York Public Library, Smithsonian America Art Museum, and the Stark Museum of Art.


Three Pines - - 1925, Color Woodcut.

Edition 50 printed in 1956. Signed, titled and dated 56 in pencil, with the artist’s Hand-in-Heart chop. Numbered 21 in pencil, verso.

Image size 10 7/8 x 9 5/8 inches (276 x 244 mm); sheet size 17 x 13 7/8 inches (432 x 352 mm)

A fine impresson, with brilliant, fresh colors, on buff laid paper; with full margins (2 to 3 1/8 inches), in excellent condition.

Inspired by a view at Estes Park, Three Pines is Baumann’s only woodcut of Colorado.


Ranchos De Taos - - c. 1925, Color Woodcut.

Edition 125. Signed, titled and numbered #31-125 in pencil.

Image size 9 5/8 x 11 1/4 inches (244 x 286 mm); sheet size 13 1/4 x 17 inches (337 x 432 mm).

A fine, rich impression, with fresh colors, on fibrous oatmeal paper; wide to full margins (1 3/4 to 2 3/4 inches), in excellent condition.


Summer Rain- - 1926, Color Woodcut.

From the edition of 50 printed in 1956. Signed, titled, numbered RC 20-50 and dated 56 in pencil; with the artist’s Hand-in-Heart chop.

Image size 9 3/8 x 11 1/8 inches (238 x 283 mm); sheet size 14 x 16 inches (356 x 406 mm).

A fine impresson, with strong, fresh colors, on oatmeal wove paper; with wide margins (2 to 2 1/2 inches). Slight lightening of the paper within the original mat opening, otherwise in excellent condition.

Reproduced: Gustave Baumann: Nearer to Art; Acton, Krause, Yuryseven; Museum of New Mexico, Santa Fe, 1993.

Exhibited: The Prints of Gustave Baumann, New Mexico Museum of Art, 2011.

Collections: Davis Museum at Wellesley College, Indianapolis Museum of Art, Museum of Texas Tech University, New Mexico Museum of Art.


Santa Fe, New Mexico, Adobe Village, Indian Village, Desert, High Plains, Acoma, Native American Village

Cordova Plaza - - 1938, Color Woodcut.

Edition 200. Signed and titled in pencil.

Image size 7 13/16 x 7 15/16 inches (198 x 202 mm); sheet size 13 1/4 x 11 1/2 inches (337 x 292 mm).

A fine impression, with fresh colors, on cream wove paper; full margins (1 5/8 to 3 1/4 inches); in excellent condition.

An impression from the edition published for the Presentation Print of the Woodcut Society, 1943. Printed by Torch Press, Cedar Rapids. Complete in the original Woodcut Society letterpress presentation folder, with a forward by George William Eggers.

Collections: University of Kansas Spencer Museum of Art; National Gallery of Art, Washington DC; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco; Indianapolis Museum of Art.


Taos Placita- - 1947, Color Woodcut.

Edition 125. Signed, titled and numbered 20-125 in pencil; with the artist’s Hand-in-Heart chop.

Image size 9 5/8 x 11 1/4 inches (244 x 286 mm); sheet size 13 1/4 x 17 inches (337 x 432 mm).

A superb, richly-inked impression, with fresh colors, on fibrous oatmeal wove paper; the full sheet with margins (2 to 3 1/8 inches); slight rippling at the left sheet edge, in excellent condition.

Collections: New Mexico Museum of Art, Phoenix Art Museum, Wichita Art Museum.