Victor Higgins Paintings
William Victor Higgins
Higgins said Taos captured him "because of the light. There is the best light to be found anywhere. There is more color in the landscape and the people than elsewhere. And besides this there is the constant call here to create something."
"Here is the oldest of American civilizations. The Taos Indians are a people living in an absolutely natural state, entirely independent of all the world....They offer the painter a subject as full of the fundamental qualities of life as did the Holy Land." - Victor Higgins
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Victor Higgins (1884 - 1949)
written by Robert Parsons
and Ashley Rolshoven
Victor Higgins Art Biography
He was the youngest member of the Taos Society of Artists and was highly accomplished at both watercolor and oils.
Victor Higgins Quotes
Higgins said Taos captured him "because of the light. There is the best light to be found anywhere. There is more color in the landscape and the people than elsewhere. And besides this there is the constant call here to create something." Higgins said of Taos, "There is in the mind of every member of the Taos Art Colony, the knowledge that Here is the oldest of American civilizations. The Taos Indians are a people living in an absolutely natural state, entirely independent of all the world. If the rest of humanity were wiped from the earth, they would go ahead just as they are today: self-supporting, self-reliant, simple and competent. Their architecture is the only naturally American architecture in the nation today. All other styles are borrowed from Europe. The manners and customs and style of architecture are the same today that they were before Christ was born.
They offer the painter a subject as full of the fundamental qualities of life as did the Holy Land."
Higgins said that New Mexico's "primitive appeal" and even the special air of Taos country "drives caution from man's brain." "This strong primitive appeal calls out the side of art that is not derivative; it urges the painter to get his subjects, his coloring, his tone from the real life about him, not from the wisdom of the studios."
"The West is composite, and it fascinates me. In the West are forests as luxurious as the forests of Fontainebleau or Lebanon , desert lands as alluring as the Sahara, and mountains most mysterious. Caflons and mesa that reveal the construction of the earth, with walls just as fantastic as facades of Dravidian Temples. An architecture, also fast disappearing, as homogeneous as the structures of Palestine and the northern coast of Africa ; and people as old as the peoples of history, with customs and costumes as ancient as their traditions. And all this is not the shifting of playhouse scenes but the erosion and growth of thousands of years, furrowed for centuries by Western rains, dried by Western winds, and baked by Western suns. Nearly all that the world has, the West has in nature, fused with its own eternal self."
"The term reality is greatly misunderstood. It does not mean the ability to copy nature as most people seem to think; it means more than that, the reality of being. The difference between the modernistic and the romantic form of art, as I see it, is the architectural basis. The modern painter builds his picture, he does not merely paint it. He has his superstructure, his foundation, just as an architect has for his buildings."
Concerning his lovefor Taos, Higgins spoke of the natural beauty of the high desert light and added, "And besides this, there is a constant call here to create something."
"The trouble with most people is that they see too much with the eye only and not enough with the inner eye, the emotions," Higgins said in 1932.
"A painter paints a canvas not because he wants to make a 'picture' as that he wants to solve a problem.
A problem in form, in construction, design if you prefer that term, in color harmonies."
- Victor Higgins
Higgins in Taos
Victor Higgins was the youngest member of the Taos Society of Artists and the most modern. His Art combines Impressionism, Modernism (Partially Abstract), Naturalism and Realism. But that realism was more deeply shaped by modern abstract art than the other members of the Taos Society of Artists. He never worked as an illustrator, instead he painted from his easel, sometimes even from a special seat in the trunk of his car.
William Victor Higgins, his birth name, was born into a farming community in Indiana.
He was just 14 when the now famous "Broken-Wheel Incident", led to the founding of the Taos Art Colony and the start of the Taos Society of Artists. In 1898 artists Bert G. Phillips and Ernest L. Blumenschein journeyed by wagon, attempting to reach Taos, New Mexico, but they were stopped by a broken wagon wheel. Blumenshein later explained, the one rear wheel collapsed "and there we were, balancing with our precious load at an angle of 45 degrees." But the trip to Taos to repair the wheel, forever changed Blumenschein's life. The beauty of the high desert overwhelmed him: "I was receiving, under rather painful circumstances, the first great unforgettable inspiration of my life," he wrote. "My destiny was being decided." And the destiny of Taos, too.
Higgins would be elected to the Taos Society of Artists in 1917 and he remained an active member until it ended in 1927.
He explained his fascination with Taos, "This strong primitive appeal calls out the side of art that is not derivative; it urges the painter to get his subjects, his coloring, his tone from the real life about him, not from the wisdom of the studios."
He began his artistic calling at only nine years old because a traveling artist who painted ads on the side of barns introduced him to painting and art and showed him museums and gave him paints and lessons.
Victor demonstrated his artistic skills by painting the insides of a barn.
His wife Sara remembered these paintings, "When as a bride I visited the Higgins farm in 1919 these first paintings of Victor's were still there. They were truly astonishing! so many walls covered as high as a child could reach, and so obviously painted by a youngster determined to learn.. ."
Higgins saved his allowance to fulfill his dreams, and at 15 he began to study at the Chicago Art Institute.
The former Chicago mayor and avid art collector Carter Harrison helped the budding painter, and generously agreed to support Higgins to study in Europe.
While in Paris, Victor met Walter Ufer (another recipient of Carter Harrison's artistic sponsorship), and the two became fast friends, despite vastly different personalities. It is thought that they complimented each other.
After returning to Chicago in 1914, Carter Harrison sent Ufer and Higgins to Taos, NM, for a year in exchange for their new works of art. Higgins was expected to produce 8 paintings in his first year in Taos.
For Higgins falling in love with Taos, the move became permanent in 1915. He joined fledgling Taos Society of Artists in 1917.
As a member of the Taos Society of Artists, Higgins began to infuse a modernist flavor into his paintings, and is credited with bringing modernism to realism. In the 1920s, Higgins' Art moved from Pueblo Indians as his subjects and, to some degree, the Taos Society of Artists, to embrace and crate a new type of modernism.
He wan many awards for his experimental landscapes, including The First Logan Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago, and the First Altman Prize at the National Academy of Design in New York. He was elected to the National Academy.
Higgins was married to Sheldon Parsons' daughter, Sara, and then later to Marion Kooglen McNay of San Antonio, Texas. But his primary preoccupation was his art.
In his last years Higgins produced what many consider to be his greatest paintings, a series of oils aptly referred to as "Little Gems." At that time these paintings sold for $250, but now begin at about $30,000
He worked out of the trunk of his car in his signature three piece suit painting a series of small landscapes that his good friend and fellow artist Ernest Blumenschein described as "All works of love: love of his simple subjects and of his craftsmanship."
He died on Aug. 23, 1949 at the age of 65 stricken with a fatal heart attack while dining at the home of Taos artists Thomas and Dorothy Benrimo.
His death would come to be seen as the end of the Taos Society of Artists as it had been known.
Higgins brought modernism to realism.
His works allow us to see the inherent dignity of the Native peoples and the majesty of our natural landscape.
In 1949, while dining at the home of friends and fellow Taos artists, Thomas and Dorothy Benrimo, Victor Higgins succumbed to a fatal heart attack. He was the last survivor of the first seven Taos Society members, and his death marked for many the end of a chapter for the Taos Society of Artists.
"The term reality is greatly misunderstood. It does not mean the ability to copy nature as most people seem to think; it means more than that, the reality of being. The difference between the modernistic and the romantic form of art, as I see it, is the architectural basis. The modern painter builds his picture, he does not merely paint it. He has his superstructure, his foundation, just as an architect has for his buildings." -Victor Higgins
Higgins Little Gems
About Higgins "Little Gems" Blumenschein said, "His last group of pictures I shall never forget. They were done on sketching trips around Taos Valley and in the Rio Grande Canyon. In them was the best Higgins quality, a lyrical charm added to his lovely color. His art had developed in [an] intellectual side through his adventure with Dynamic Symmetry and other abstract angles. Not that he used mechanical formulas. He always had, as do most good artists, an instinct that guided his form structure .... And he put all he had into this dozen of small canvases. They must have been about 18" wide by ten inches high. All works of love: love of his simple subjects and of his craftsmanship. These pictures had the 'extra something' that the right artist can put into his work when he is 'on his toes.'"
"I gathered from his good breeding, soft-spoken voice , and gentle manner that his boyhood was uneventful. He was not a strong, virile character like Ufer, but one of hesitating sensitive nature. Higgins felt out his compositions with a broad, sweeping style and masses of color en rapport. He had a painter 's style." - Ernest Blumenschein
He called Higgins as "the dreamer" as opposed to a realist.
Joan was Higgins' daughter from his marriage to Sara Parsons, herself the daughter of Sheldon Parsons. Sara said of her marriage to Victor:
"I am positive I was the first child of thirteen to cook him
a five-course Thanksgiving dinner on a two-burner oil stove that smoked and sputtered
in a small adobe room overlooking piñon dotted foothills and the handsome snow-capped peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Range."
Victor was very proud of his family and his rural upbringing.
He said, "The nearest thing to art was my father's love of flowers. He loved their forms and their colors,
and he tended his garden as a painter might work a canvas."
Higgins Signature Examples
Authentic signatures are only a part of certifying Traditional Fine Art.Please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Higgins Highest Auction Prices
"Taos in Winter" Price: $833,000
"Going Home" 24" x 27" Oil / Board Price: $773,000
"CANYON DRIVE, SANTA FE" 24.20" x 27.50" Oil / Canvas Price: $769,000
"Ruth" 27" x 30" Oil / Canvas Price: $650,000
"RUG PATTERN (STILL LIFE WITH ZINNIAS)" 54.25" x 60.25" Oil / Canvas Price: $497,000
"The White Gate" Price: 18.13" x 20.25" Oil / Canvas $461,000
"Pablita's Gate or Sisters" 20" x 24" Oil / Canvas Price: $448,000
"New Mexico Zinnias" Price: $416,500
"Pink and Black" 40" x 40" Oil / Canvas Price: $414,400
"Four Shawled Women" 18" x 20" Oil / Canvas Price: $411,200
"The Wampum Traders" 29" x 29" Oil / Canvas Price: $386,500
"The Sisters" Price: $324,500
"Taos in Winter" 30" x 36" Oil / Canvas Price: $315,000
"The Red Door" 20.00" x 24.00" Oil / Canvas Price $304,200
"Mountain Forms III" 24.00" x 27.00" Oil / Canvas Price $300,000
"MOUNTAIN VILLAGE" 26.00" x 32.00" Oil / Canvas Price: $287,500
"Red Mountains" 19.00" x 27.00" Oil / Canvas Price: $230,000
"THE GREEN PICKET FENCE" 19.25" x 24.25" Oil / Canvas Price: $218,500
"Aspens" 30.00" x 30.00" Oil / Canvas Price: $212,800
"Woman gathering water in the placita" 16" x 20" Oil / Canvas Price: $209,000
"A Pink Shawl" Price: $202,300
"Taos, New Mexico" 14.00" x 17.75" Oil / Panel Price: $192,000
"Still Life (Coreopsis)" 24.00" x 27.00" Oil / Canvas Price: $190,000
Victor Higgins prices have risen steadily.
Please contact the Gallery for the latest prices and current inventory.
Inventory always changes.
Parsons does not offer Victor Higgins reproductions, because no reproduction can compare to the real paintings.
Parsons invites you to visit the Galleries to experience the unmatched beauty of the real art.
Parsons West is located in Victor Higgins historic Taos studio.
Parsons invites you to visit and enjoy.
Victor Higgins Timeline
Victor Higgins media include Conte Crayon, Crayon, Oil Paint and Watercolors.
He painted primarily in watercolors and oil.
His art works combine Partially Abstract Modernism and Impressionism with Representation, Realist, Naturalism and Realism.
Victor Higgins paintings include Adobe Structures and Pueblos, Portraits, Native American Indians,
Snowscapes and Winterscapes, Indian Figures Prior to 1940, Human Figures, Landscapes,
Still Lifes, and Cattle or Other Farm Animals in Landscapes.
Although Higgins Art is realistic, he was the most profoundly influenced by modern abstract art of all the other members of the Taos Society of Artists.
Higgins was never employed as an illustrator. He preferred to paint from his easel.
Higgins lived or worked in California, New Mexico,
Taos, New Mexico, Santa Fe, New Mexico and Cornwall, England.
His birth name was William Victor Higgins, given when
he was born into a farming community in Indiana.
But he was not interested in farming.
Born in Shelbyville, Indianapolis on June 28, 1884 into a large Irish family he then
moved to Chicago in 1899.
His father gave him his first introduction to Art in his garden.
Higgins said, "He loved their forms and their colors,
and he tended his garden as a painter might work a canvas."
His interest in Art increased after meeting John Cornelius,
a sign painter from Indianapolis who told him wondrous stories about the museums, galleries
and art schools of Chicago.
Cornelius purchased paints and brushes so the young Higgins could practice.
Higgins first demonstrated his talent at age 9 when he painted the insides of his fathers' barn.
In 1899 when he was 15, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Then he studied at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
He supported himself by working in a sign shop and making theater decorations.
He studied with E. Martin Hennings and Walter Ufer.
Then, in 1908 he went to New York,
and he met Robert Henri.
He went to California in 1910, only to return to New York.
There he met George Bellows.
Later in 1910 Victor Higgins traveled to Paris and Munich to continue studying art,
studying at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere.
He studied in Paris under Réné Ménard and Lucien Simon.
He mentored with Hans von Hayek in Munich.
He did not study with the modern experimental artists of Parisian art circles.
While in Paris, he would meet Walter Ufer and begin a long and productive friendship.
Sharing a rejection of Academics and feeling the need for a truly American Art,
He returned to America in 1912.
He showed an exhibition of his Art at the Palette and Chisel Club
and earned national attention and the esteemed Gold Medal prize.
In 1913, he returned to Chicago.
His development was shaped by the New York Armory Modernism Show of 1913 in New York,
especially by the works of Marcel Duchamp and Marsden Hartley.
From 1910 to 1914 Higgins was a student at the Academie de la Grande
Chaumier in Paris, studying under René Menard and Lucien Simon.
He studied under Réné Ménard and Lucien Simon and then in Munich with Hans von Hyeck,
and with George Bellows and Robert Henri, who encouraged him to study abroad.
While at the Academie de la Grande Chaumier in Paris (1910-1914),
He was introduced to Walter Ufer. Ufer as well was also sponsored by Carter Harrison.
He showed at the Club of American Artists.
In 1914, Higgins went to first to Santa Fe, where he met Sheldon Parsons,
unofficial welcomer for the newly arriving artists.
Later he would marry Sheldon's daughter, Sarah.
In Taos he began to paint landscapes on commission.
He was aided by Chicago mayor, collector and art patron Carter Harrison,
who encouraged otherartists to paint inTaos as well.
Harrison supported Higgins to study for four years in Paris and Munich.
In 1916, under the threatening clouds of war,
Mable Dodge and her husband, Maurice Sterne, returned to Taos.
Maurice Sterne, although he stayed only two years, was the one who invited Andrew Dasburg to Taos.
Mable would soon divorce Maurice and then marry Taos Indian Tony Luhan.
Higgins became part of Mables’ circle of Taos artists.
Higgins was never an illustrator, unlike some of the Taos artists.
He primary concern was composition. He was an "easel painter."
In 1915 he was elected into the Taos Society of Artists.
He exhibited with Jane Peterson in 1925 and with Wayman Adams and Janet Scudder in 1927.
In 1918 he won the First Logan Prize at the Art Institute of Chicago
and the First Altman Prize at the National Academy of Design, New York for his work "Fiesta Day".
From 1917-1923 he served as a teacher at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts.
In 1919, Higgins painted murals for the Missouri State Capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri.
In the 1920s he created many landscapes.
1920 marks a major change in his Art, as it becomes more alive in brushwork, color, and subject .
He was elected to the National Academy in 1921.
He met Dasburg and Marin in Taos,
leading him to experiment with multi-point perspectives and interlocking planes.
In 1923, He was commissioned for a mural in the Herington Post Office.
His daughter, Joan, who he cherished, was born in 1922.
But, to his great sorrow, Victor and Sara divorced in 1924.
Victor Higgins showed at the Museum of Modern Art's second exhibition in 1929
as one of only 19 invited artists.
In 1935 Higgins was elected to Academician of the National Academy of Design.
He had become an accomplished painter, achieving excellence in both oils and pastels.
Higgins remarried in the late 1930s to San Antonio, Texas, heiress Marion Koogler McNay.
They separated after two years and then divorced in 1940.
He was known for painting in a three piece business suit.
He died on Aug. 23, 1949 at the age of 65.
His death was thought to be the end of the Taos Society of Artists as it had been known.
Victor Higgins Paintings
"A Shrine to St. Anthony"
"At the River's Edge"
"Baking Bread, Taos"
"Floral Still Life"
"Four Shawled Women"
"House on the Hill"
"Indian at Stream"
"Juanito, the Suspicious Cat"
"Moorland Gorse and Bracken"
"Mountain Landscape, NM"
"New Mexico Sky"
"On the Quay"
"Pablita's Gate" or "Sisters"
"Pink and Black"
"Pueblo of Taos"
"Taos from the Hillside"
"Taos in Winter"
"Taos, New Mexico"
"Taos Street in Winter"
"The Blue Shawl"
"Valley Town: View of Pueblo Town"
"Walking Rain (Pablita Passes)"
"Women of Taos"
Victor Higgins Museum Collections
Art Institute of Chicago
Butler Institute of American Art
Chicago Union League Club
Corcoran Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Dallas Museum of Art
Denver Art Museum
Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians-Western Art
Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
Harmsen Western Art Collection
Harwood Museum of Art, Taos, New Mexico
Indianapolis Museum of Art
Jonson Gallery of University of New Mexico
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Museum of The Southwest
New Mexico Museum of Art
New Jersey State Museum
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts
Phoenix Art Museum
Richmond Art Museum
Rockford Art Museum
Sangre De Cristo Arts Center
Smithsonian American Art Museum,
Snite Museum of Art
Stark Museum of Art
Santa Fe Railway
The Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
The Harwood Museum of Art
The University of Michigan Museum of Art
Union League Club of Chicago
William Foxley Collection-Western
Wichita Art Museum
Victor Higgins Awards
The Gold medal of the Palette and Chisel Club of Chicago (1914)
The Chicago Municipal Art League Prize (1915)
The first Logan Medal of the Chicago Art Institute ($500) (1918)
The first Altman prizes at the National Academy of Design (1918, 1927, 1932)
Academician of the National Academy of Design in New York in 1935
Exhibition at the Luxembourg in France
Exhibition at the Venice Biennale
Trustee of the Harwood Foundation in Taos.
He was a professional in theAllied Artists of America,
and the Chicago Artists Society.
Victor Higgins Paintings Online
"Oka and Walmacho" 1915 oil on canvas 27 1/16 in. x 30 1/16 in.
"Taos Street in Winter"
"Floral Still Life"
"Indian Paint Brush"
"Untitled (Dog and Fence)"
"Walking Rain (Pablita Passes)"
Art Institute of Chicago