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2013 Catalog > 14. Doel Reed. “The Beginning”



14. Doel Reed (1895–1985). “The Beginning,” 1954.

Etching. Plate: 8 x 17 1/2." Signed, l.r. Frame: 18 x 27." Very bright and clean. Fine for the print.

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“First as a summer visitor to Taos and after 1959 as a resident, Reed explored ‘the canyons and mountain villages of the Sangre de Cristo range’ in search of motifs. These he would later develop into immaculate aquatints in which velvety blacks and whites ‘gleam as chalk marks on coal.’” — Clinton Adams

In addition to his landscape scenes of adobe dwellings, Doel Reed created a successful series of female nudes, in which graceful nudes are softly rendered within high-contrast, geometrically “sculpted” landscapes. Reed created studies in the field with crayon and ink, later using them to complete paintings and prints in his studio.

“His aquatints are . . . lit with an arbitrary light and shadowed with an impenetrable darkness, giving an effect somewhere between night and day in an unspecified timelessness. . . The aquatint is given a soft quality by the rosin sprinkled over the metal plate before it is exposed to acid. When the resulting design is printed, a myriad of little dots of ink seem to merge . . . Reed controls the etching process of aquatint masterfully, and this is best seen in his nudes, whose classically round forms are subtly shaded in a range of values.”
— Mary Carroll Nelson

Born in Indiana, Reed first studied art at the John Herron Art Museum in Indianapolis, then at the Cincinnati Art Academy where Frank Duveneck and Joseph Henry Sharp were on faculty. During his service in World War I, Reed was exposed to mustard gas and suffered damage his eyes and lungs. Returning to the Academy in Cincinnati, Reed was inspired by Francisco Goya’s aquatints to study print making. Eventually, Reeds health issues lead him to seek a dry climate and so he found a position at Oklahoma A & M College. His recognized expertise in printmaking distinguished the art department there. During World War II, Reed began spending time in Taos and Talpa, New Mexico. Upon his retirement in 1959, Reed made Talpa his home. Reed was elected to the National Academy of Design for graphic arts in 1952 and published his book Doel Reed Makes an Aquatint in 1965.

The present print bears an affinity to Reed’s 1953 “Figure with Landscape,” in the Albright Knox Gallery collection. Doel Reed’s artworks are held in a number of important collections, including the Carnegie Institute, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Art in Houston, the Library of Congress, the New Mexico Museum of Art, the New York Public Library, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Seattle Art Museum, the Bibliothéque Nationale in Paris, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

Refs.: Mary Carroll Nelson, The Legendary Artists of Taos; Porter & Ebie, Taos Artists and Their Patrons; Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encylopedia of Artists of the American West; M.J. Van Deventer, “Doel Reed Haunted by Nature’s Moods,” Southwest Art, August 1985.

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