Joseph A. Fleck

(1892 - 1977)

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Joseph Fleck was the product of a solid academic training in World War I era Vienna ‑‑ first at the Institute for Graphic Design and then at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. He immigrated to Kansas City, MO partly because of the economic situation in Austria. There he worked as chief designer in a Tiffany stained‑glass window workshop and was soon into the social milieu of this prosperous Midwestern city. A chance visit to a touring exhibition of the Taos Society of Artists determined his future; for most of the rest of his life, Fleck lived in Taos.

After his discovery of Taos, Fleck's work evolved into two major epochs of style: the first era from 1924 to 1942, and then the outpouring of incandescent landscapes after WW II. In 1946, he increasingly turned to landscapes, almost all having widely horizontal formats, emulating the spreading valley of Taos and its immense skies. His landscapes often verge on a spiritual expressionism; some show quiet regional structuralism derived from local mountain forms of adobe building shapes. The Taos landscape and exotic Indian people fascinated Fleck.

During his lifetime, Fleck was widely exhibited outside of Taos and won numerous awards. European born and educated, like many other "American" artists, Fleck successfully effected the difficult transfer from the Old World to New World life. His work evolved from the quiet formality of his portraits to the spontaneous fervor of his landscapes. The much admired Fleck was a respected member of the Taos colony. More than any other artist in the Taos group, Fleck lived to see the profound changes in that unique place of constant artistic interchange and intense accomplishment.