R. C. Gorman
|R. C. Gorman|
|Birth name||Rudolph Carl Gorman|
July 26, 1931|
Chinle, Arizona near Canyon de Chelly, Navajo Nation
|Died||November 3, 2005
Albuquerque, New Mexico
|Training||Arizona State College (now Northern Arizona University);
Mexico City College (now Fundación Universidad de las Américas, Puebla)
Rudolph Carl Gorman (July 26, 1931 – November 3, 2005) was a Native American artist of the Navajo Nation. Referred to as "the Picasso of American Indian art" by the New York Times, his paintings are primarily of Native American women and characterized by fluid forms and vibrant colors, though he also worked in sculpture, ceramics, and stone lithography. He was also an avid lover of cuisine, authoring four cookbooks, (with accompanying drawings) called Nudes and Food.
Gorman grew up in a traditional Navajo hogan and began drawing at age 3. His grandmother helped raise him, recounting Navajo legends and enumerating his genealogy of artist ancestors. She kindled his desire to become an artist. While tending sheep in Canyon de Chelly with his aunts, he used to draw on the rocks, sand, and mud, and made sculptures with the clay, with his earliest subjects including Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple.
He credited a teacher, Jenny Lind at Ganado Presbyterian Mission School, for his inspiration to become a full-time artist. After he left high school, he served in the Navy before entering college, where he majored in literature and minored in art at Northern Arizona University.
In 1958, he received the first scholarship from the Navajo Tribal Council to study outside of the United States, and enrolled in the art program at Mexico City College. There he learned of and was influenced by the work Diego Rivera. He later studied art at San Francisco State University, where he also worked as a model.
In 1973, he was the only living artist whose work was shown in the “Masterworks of the American Indian" show held at Metropolitan Museum in New York. One of his pieces was selected for the cover of the exhibit's catalog.
Recognition and collectors
His famous friends and collectors of his work included Elizabeth Taylor, Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barry Goldwater, Gregory Peck, Erma Bombeck, Lee Marvin, Jackie Onassis and fellow artist Andy Warhol, who silk-screened a portrait of Gorman that hung in his bathroom.
On September 18, 2005, Gorman fell at his home and was taken to Holy Cross Hospital in Taos. On September 26, he was transferred to University Hospital (in Albuquerque). He died at age 74 on November 3. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson ordered flags flown at half-staff in his honor.
Gorman learned about the work of the Mexican social realists: Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. He became inspired by their colors and forms to change from abstraction to abstract realism. He used abstract forms and shapes to create his own unique, personal realistic style, recognizable to all who are acquainted with his work. While in Mexico, he also learned stone lithography from a master printer, Jose Sanchez. He used lithography throughout his life as a means of making original multiple images of his inspirations, often working by drawing directly on the stones from which the lithographs were printed.
Gorman collected many Taos artists including several oil paintings by Bill Rane, whom Gorman said was his favorite Taos painter. Rane died on September 2, 2005 and Gorman fell ill 16 days later. They both had long-time galleries on Ledoux Street in Taos. Following their deaths in the fall of 2005, people in Taos said that it had been a very sad fall on Taos' Historic Gallery Row.
Awards and honors
- Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, College of Ganado, Ganado, Arizona (1978)
- R. C. Gorman Day, State of New Mexico (January 8, 1979)
- Doctorate of Humane Letters, Eastern New Mexico University, Portales, New Mexico (1980)
- R. C. Gorman Day, San Francisco, California (March 18, 1986)
- Humanitarian Award in Fine Art, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (May 1986)
- New Mexico’s Governor’s Award of Excellence (1988)
- Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona (1995)
- Alumnae of the Year Award, National Association of Colleges and Universities (November 1993)
- Honorary United Nations 50-year Chairman for New Mexico (1995)
- Camino Real Award, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1995)
- Los Amigos del Turismo Cultural Award, Santa Fe, New Mexico (1996)
- After Gorman's death, New Mexico governor Bill Richardson ordered flags flown at half-staff in his honor (2005)
- A Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars was dedicated to him in 2002.
- Named a "Living Legend" by Ralph Oliver, 1990, per Biographical Directory of Native American Painters
- R.C. Gorman biography
- Gorman, R. C with (editor) Virginia Dooley, Nudes and Foods: Gorman Goes Gourmet. Northland Press, Flagstaff, AZ, 1981 (ISBN 0873582942)
- Bullis, Don (2007) "Gorman, Rudolph Carl "R.C." or "Rudy" (1931–2005)" New Mexico: a biographical dictionary, 1540-1980 Rio Grande Books, Albuquerque, New Mexico, pages 103-104, ISBN 978-1-890689-60-5
- "History", Mexico City College
- Brief biography of R.C. Gorman
- Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated
- RC Gorman's Gallery Page
- Houston Chronicle Obituary
- Article in the Free New Mexican
- Albuquerque Tribune Obituary