Robert C. Ellis Biography

Robert C. Ellis




Born in Jackson, Texas on February 3, 1923, Robert C. Ellis first began studying art through The University of New Mexico, Taos Summer Field School in 1942, where he met modernist painter Andrew Dasburg.  Ellis joined the Coast Guard during WWII.  After the war he returned to studying art at the New School of Social Research in New York in 1949, where he studied with Abraham Rattner and Adja Yunkers (later one of the Albuquerque moderns).

In 1950 he returned to New Mexico to study at the University of New Mexico, obtaining his BFA in 1950.  Between 1947 and 1953, he lived intermittently with the Tarahumara Indians of Mexico’s Sierra Madre whose art he greatly admired.  His ties to Mexico, which were as strong as those he felt for the Southwest, became even stronger with his 1957 marriage to Rosamaria Ramirez de Alba, a Mexican citizen.  He was the only artist among the Taos Moderns to pursue his career in two countries showing his work on both sides of the border.  Ellis returned to Taos in 1961 as a resident of the Wurlitzer Foundation and again briefly in 1964, before finally settling in Taos in 1965.  Ellis’ work from the 1940’s onward moved through Cubist and Abstract Expressionist influenced periods.  In the 1950s his interest in the nature of luminosity led him to try for a kind of stained glass effect.  In later works he moved to a more minimalist approach in both his painting and printmaking.

His first solo exhibition was at Gump’s Gallery in San Francisco California in 1942. His work was later exhibited in Washington D.C., Tucson Arizona, Santa Fe NM, Albuquerque NM, Linsborg KS, Amarillo TX, The Panhandle Museum in Carson County TX, The Ellen Noel Art Museum of the Permain Basin, Odessa TX, and at the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos.  He exhibited internationally in several galleries in Mexico, as well as at the Museo Nacional de Arte Moderno in Mexico City in 1964.

Robert C. Ellis died in Albuquerque, New Mexico in February of 1979.