R. C. Gorman was born in Canyon de Chelly, Arizona and raised in a hogan on the Navajo Reservation. He became one of the most loved, most collected, and best known Southwestern artists of the 20th-century. This is a fine example of his signature works of Navajo women in relaxed poses. They have always garnered the highest prices of his works; the top reported public price has been $9,000.00. Nowadays most of his best works are sold in galleries with prices that reach or probably exceed this figure.
Women, particularly his maternal grandmother, were primary influences and remain the focus of most of his paintings and prints. She spent much time with him during his childhood, and they herded sheep together, and he often drew on the rocks including a depiction of a nude woman that brought him a scolding. She told him the Navajo traditions and legends, sang the old songs, and taught him about plants and animals. His mother, who had been sent away to government schools, directed him more towards the Anglo world and spoke to him only in English. She oversaw his education, and he first attended Chinle Public School. At age 10, he went to Flagstaff, shipped there in a cattle car with his mother, to work in the Navajo Ordnance. On the way, he saw his first painting at a stop at Hopiland at Moencopi Trading Post, and couldn't get it out of his mind. After that he attended St. Michael's, a Catholic boarding school on the Navajo Reservation, from where he was expelled. Next he went to Ganado Presbyterian Mission School. Many years later, in 1978, The College of Ganado awarded Gorman an honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts, which he later said was the highest honor he had received. He went to college in Flagstaff at Northern Arizona University, and in 1951 enlisted in the Navy for four years during the Korean War, but never quit drawing. In 1955, he re-enrolled at Northern Arizona University, studying literature and art, and illustrated for a school magazine.
A trip to Mexico and later a year long study scholarship really excited him, especially viewing murals by Orozco, Rivera, and Siqueiros, and sculpture by Zuniga because these artists were depicting realistic people. Their works were a catalyst for his decision to paint likenesses and create lithographs of people from his own heritage.
However, Gorman did not stay long on the Navajo reservation. In 1962, he left and would return only for visits. He moved to San Francisco where he had successful exhibitions of his work and earned the patronage of Charles and Ruth de Young Elkus, who encouraged young Indian talent.
Thanks to The Biography website; Wikipedia; and AskArt.
Artist: R. C. GORMAN (Navajo-American 1932 - 2005)
Medium: Pastel Watercolor on Paper
Size: Approximate sight size 24 by 20 inches; framed approximately 31 by 35 inches.
Signed and Dated: Lower Left "R C Gorman 77"
Condition: Excellent Condition.