Urban Realism and the American Scene
Walter Ufer (1876–1936)
Builders of the Desert, 1923
In the early twentieth century, Walter Ufer, a leading member of the Taos art colony, became well known for his naturalistic depictions of New Mexico and its indigenous inhabitants. Builders of the Desert shows several stages of adobe brick construction while rendering the unique effects of the glaring sun on the region’s parched landscape. It demonstrates Ufer’s adherence to plein-air painting and his remarkable ability to transcribe New Mexico’s unique colors. It also delivers a strong social message. The rugged mountains and vertical lines of the adobe church contrast sharply with the hunched postures of the Taos Puebloans. By highlighting the backbreaking labor necessary to produce such buildings, Ufer vividly portrays contemporary Pueblo life in ways that refute the romantic stereotype of the so-called vanishing race.
Learn more about this painting on the Terra Foundation website.