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    JOSEPH AMADEUS FLECK (American, 1892-1977)
    Indian Flower
    Oil on canvas
    34-1/2 x 30-1/2 inches (87.6 x 77.5 cm)
    Signed lower right: Fleck

    Indian Flower is one of a series of notable portraits Fleck painted in the mid and late 1920s of Pueblo Indians and New Mexican Hispanics. With only a few exceptions, nearly all the figures are depicted from the waist up against the picture plane, posed against a Taos landscape. Indian Flower depicts a rather dramatic cloudscape behind the figure, incorporating a pueblo and the Taos Mountains in the distance. The figure balances what appears to be a Zuni bread bowl on her head, replacing the typical olla. She wears a black rebozo and red dress similar to the clothing appearing in Fleck's Sagebrush Madonna of 1925. Indian Flower may have been exhibited under that title A Desert Flower in Fleck's one-man exhibition at the Kansas City Art Institute in 1929 and at the Galerie Bernheim-Jeune in Paris in 1931. These early portraits are among the most sought-after paintings of Fleck's oeuvre, and consequently are found almost exclusively in institutional collections.

    Sharing similar academic training with most artists working in Taos in the 1920s, Fleck's Taos paintings were consistent with those produced by the Taos Society of Artists. However, during the 1930s his paintings took on a definite Regionalist style perhaps due to his ties to Kansas City and Benton as well as the Texas Regionalists. By the 1950s, his brushwork became looser and more expressionistic, and he turned more often to landscapes.

    Born in Austria, Fleck studied printmaking at the Kunstgewerbeschule (Institute of Applied Arts) and drawing and painting at the Akademie der bildenden Künste Wien (Academy of Fine Arts) in Vienna. His primary instructors at the Akademie, Hans Tichi and Rudolph Bacher, were fringe members of the Vienna Secession led by Gustav Klimt. When Fleck immigrated to Kansas City in 1922, he found work as a designer for Tiffany's. He also painted portraits of notable Kansas citizens, including the city's mayor. In the summer 1924, Fleck first visited Taos after seeing a Taos Society of Artists exhibition in Kansas City. He moved to Taos in 1925 with his new wife, Mabel Davidson Mantz, who had family connections in Kansas City and Fort Worth, Texas, that would aid Fleck's art career. Eventually Fleck had a studio on La Loma, a neighborhood just west of Taos Plaza, where artists W. Herbert Dunton and Blanche Grant also lived. Fleck was especially close to Taos artists E. Martin Hennings and Leon Gaspard.

    When the Great Depression decreased tourist traffic to Taos, Fleck "resolved to go to the clients" according to his son, Joseph Fleck Jr. At the time this meant Oklahoma and Texas, where oil was still putting money in people's pockets. This time period also saw several WPA mural commissions undertaken by the artist including Raton, New Mexico; Hugo, Oklahoma; and the New Mexico State Capitol at Santa Fe (never finished). During the 1940s, Fleck taught at the Kansas City Art Institute and the University of Kansas City (now the University of Missouri at Kansas City), succeeding Thomas Hart Benton. He painted murals for the student union at UMKC that still hang there. In the late 1940s, Fleck built a new studio at Talpa, another village south of Taos and near the communities of Ranchos de Taos and Llano Quemado. Taos moderns Ward Lockwood and Andrew Dasburg lived in the Talpa area.

    Michael R. Grauer,
    Associate Director for Curatorial Affairs/Curator of Art
    Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

    Condition Report*: Canvas has been wax relined.  The paint layer has moderate crackelure overall commensurate with the age of the work.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. Heritage does not guarantee the condition of frames and shall not be liable for any damage/scratches to frames, glass/acrylic coverings, original boxes, display accessories, or art that has slipped in frames. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    November, 2011
    5th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 2
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,826

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