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Victor Higgins (American, 1884-1949)
Also known as: Higgins, W. Victor; Higgins, William VictorBirth Place: Shelbyville (Shelby county, Indiana, United States)
Victor Higgins was a member of the Taos Society of Artists, located in northern New Mexico in the early years of the twentieth century, and was one of its most modernist painters. Like his Taos colleagues Ufer and Hennings, he was a Munich-trained artist from the Chicago school who went west seeking the exotic subject matter of the native cultures and natural beauty of the southwest. Higgins first came to Taos by invitation of his close friend Sheldon Parsons, whose only daughter Sara he would eventually marry. His progressive compositions and distinct subject matter set him apart from his fellow Taos artists and, along with his quirky personality, resulted in his perception as a bit of a “loner” within the group.
As the other Taos Society founders were capturing the heroic dignity of the native Indians in epic portraits, Higgins was more frequently painting Taos and its surrounding mountains and valleys in analytic landscapes of great sophistication. While not completely void of figures, Higgins work after 1920 subjugates the human form to the landscape and confines it within the terrestrial constraints of his compositions. His works are not true portraits but they utilize figures objectively as central design elements. Higgins reveals the abstract forms found in nature with a great sense of artistic pattern: the totemic aspens in fall, the undulating New Mexican mountains, the organic irregularity of adobe architecture.
Along with his inventiveness of style, Higgins was a resourceful businessman. He was well connected within the art circles of Chicago, and therefore enjoyed success at the large juried art shows prior to World War I. This status greatly benefitted his ability to attract patrons and thereby make a living as a professional artist. Throughout Higgins career, his work was exhibited with the Taos Society of Artists annual circuit from 1914-1926, with the Palette and Chisel Club in Chicago, the National Academy of Design in New York, and in several one-man shows across the nation.
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