Gene Kloss is among the major 20th century printmakers, recognized for her New Mexico landscapes and her evocative images of the Pueblo peoples and the Spanish Penitentes. Over the course of her 70 year career, Kloss created work in a variety of media, though she is most known for her practice as an intaglio printmaker. Of her art, ArtNews wrote, “Gene Kloss is one of our most sensitive and sympathetic interpreters of the Southwest.”
Kloss’s art received widespread recognition during the 1930s, during which she lived in an old adobe below the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in Taos. A member of the Taos Art colony, she produced a series of prints for the Public Works of Art Project and the Works Progress Administration, scenes of life in New Mexico which were reproduced and distributed to public schools across the state.
Working in black and white, Kloss recorded the landscape and people of New Mexico without appearing overly sentimental or maudlin. Whether conveying religious or quotidian subjects, Kloss imbued each of her images with extraordinary sensitivity and nuance through the use of rich blacks, shifting fields of gray, and an unusual level of detail. Kloss would often say, “In this country, everything lifts—the trees, the mountains, the sky.”
Kloss was the first woman to be inducted into the National Academy of Design as a printmaker. Kloss attended the San Francisco School of Fine Arts and the University of California at Berkeley, where she was introduced to etching by her professor, renowned printmaker Perham Nahl. Works by Kloss are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, the Carnegie Institute, the San Francisco Museum of Art, the Library of Congress, and the National Academy of Design, among others.