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Albert Krehbiel

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Biography

Albert Krehbiel was a well‑known and highly regarded artist in Santa Fe during the years surrounding 1920; so much so that the Museum of New Mexico provided him with a studio in the historic Palace of the Governors. During his prolific Southwestern period, Krehbiel produced a significant body of work richly deserving wider attention than it has received.

In the summer of 1898, Krehbiel made his way from Newton to Chicago by bicycle with his younger brother, Fred, and enrolled at The Art Institute for the fall semestere. After six years of intensive study, he earned a traveling scholarship and left for Paris in 1903. In Paris, he enrolled in the Academie Julian and studied Neo‑Classicism under Laurens; he won four gold medals in addition to the coveted Prix de Rome. He returned to America in 1906 to a full‑time teaching position at the Art Institute of Chicago; marriage to Dulah Marie Evans, his long time sweetheart; and to a public mural commission.

The Museum of New Mexico invited Krehbiel to participate in their visiting artists program in 1922. His art works created during this time show the profound effect Santa Fe had upon his painting style. Gone from his palette were the earlier somber tones and realistic renderings which resembled French, and later Dutch, old masters. His Santa Fe works are fresh, joyous and spontaneous experiments in local sun‑drenched color and loose forms. Color, more than any other pictorial element, was the key factor in Krehbiel's new‑found visual vocabulary and it formed the basis of every line, every passage, every moment he expressed in his Santa Fe scenes.

The more understated and the more abbreviated his work became, the more it tended towards abstraction; this is apparent in many of his pastels of the early 1920s. It is not specific geographical details of Santa Fe that Krehbiel was interested in representing, but its dramatic atmospheric effects and its environmental moods. While his landscapes are often dotted with small anonymous figures like Parisian flaneurs along Santa Fe's footpaths and caminos, these human inhabitants are never identifiable. Rather they are human types‑ cowboys, tourists, Indians or ranchers­-seen from behind or partially obscured by the shade in which they rest.

Krehbiel's art was considered by the Museum of New Mexico to be as important as the work of Robert Henri. While Krehbiel's time spent in Santa Fe and Taos was brief in comparison to the rest of his career, his productive period in the Southwest resulted in a great amount of works which he exhibited with other renowned Santa Fe Art Colony and Taos Society artists.