William Lumpkins Biography

William Lumpkins




Abstract Expressionist artist William Lumpkins was born on April 8, 1909 on Rabbit Ears Ranch, near Clayton, in Territorial New Mexico. After growing up on cattle ranches in Arizona and New Mexico he attended high school in Roswell, New Mexico where he met artist Peter Hurd in 1927, at age 18. Hurd encouraged his artistic leanings and critiqued his work.

Lumpkins enrolled at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1929 studying both art and architecture. The next year he moved to Los Angeles, California to study architecture at the University of Southern California, graduating in 1934, after which he worked in the FAP/WPA architectural division where he designed his first passive solar building.

He returned to Santa Fe where he opened an architectural firm in 1938 and, along with abstract painters Raymond Jonson and Emil Bistram, founded the Transcendental Painters Group based on the metaphysical aspects of art. Lumpkins practiced Zen meditation his whole life and used his understanding in the compositions of his paintings and his koan poems, paradoxical anecdotes or riddles used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment.

In 1950, he moved to La Jolla, California, designing modular housing and working as an architectural contractor for the Eleventh Naval District. His work as an artist was affected by the Southern California avant-garde artists. After marrying, he returned to work as an architect in Santa Fe in 1967.

Lumpkins' architectural work also included many restoration projects in New Mexico, including Santa Fe's Santuario de Guadalupe and hotel La Fonda. Lumpkins' adobe building designs were featured in the 1982 exhibition "Des Architecture de Terre" held at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and were the subject of a book, Pueblo Architecture and Modern Adobes: The Residential Designs of William Lumpkins. He continued to paint and exhibited in New York and Santa Fe. There was a retrospective of his works on paper at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 1988.

William Lumpkins died on March 31, 2000 in Santa Fe.