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Fremont F. Ellis (American, 1897-1985)


Also known as:  Ellis, Fremond F.; Ellis, Fremond-F

With Jozef Bakos, Walter Mruk, Willard Nash, and Will Shuster, Fremont Ellis founded Los Cinco Pintores, Santa Fe's modernist art movement, in 1921. Throughout his career he drew inspiration from the light and palette of the New Mexico landscape. He was born in 1897 in Montana, the son of a traveling dentist, and received his only art training during a stint in New York, studying for three months at the Art Students League and copying Impressionist masterworks at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Ellis's first job as an optometrist proved dissatisfying, and in 1919 after a visit to Santa Fe, he decided to plant roots there: he married, worked as a photographer and sign painter, and pursued his true passion of landscape painting. Of the Cinco Pintores, Ellis was the most traditional, never adopting pure abstraction, rather favoring the fractured brushwork and vibrant palette of Impressionism to render the region's mountains, trees, and deserts. During his nearly sixty years in Santa Fe, he maintained ties with the West coast and exhibited at the California Art Club, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Oakland Art Gallery.

Like the French Impressionist Claude Monet, Ellis painted series of landscapes, often repeating the same scene in different seasons and under varying atmospheric conditions. El Rancho de San Sebastian, a forested region just north of Santa Fe, was one of his favorite serial subjects. With its flickering aspen groves and views of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, this location afforded Ellis ripe opportunities to experiment with light and color.

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