Essence of Location
A new book examines the work of German-born Taos painter Hans Paap.
Painter Hans Paap was born in Hamburg, Germany, but spent much of his life traveling around the world. He lived for a time in Mexico, Argentina, Brazil and even managed to get back to Germany to visit his family, but was unable to get out until after the end of World War II. But it was a brief stay in Taos, New Mexico—he even lived with E. Martin Hennings for a brief period—which put Paap on the Western art map.
Paap’s work is featured in Hans Paap: Portraits & Landscapes, which was published by his daughter, Nancy Paap, who last saw her father when she was 4 years old and began collecting his work as a way to begin to understand his
life. “Once I began collecting his paintings and researching his life, I realized he was as gifted a portrait and landscape painter as the members of the Taos Society of Artists, who were contemporaries and friends of his,” Nancy writes in the book. “I also began to lament that his work was so little known and underappreciated. The lack of acclaim seems attributable to the fact that he never settled in one place long enough to become established and recognized. This book seeks to rectify that inequity.”
The book emphasizes Paap’s deep love of the Southwest, and also his subjects, which included Native Americans, blue-collar workers, family members and important people in Taos, including Mabel Dodge Luhan.
“My father’s portraits and landscapes capture the souls of the individuals and the essence of the locations he painted. Although circumstances prevented me from ever accompanying him to the places he lived and worked, his paintings serve as a record, a tour guide, giving me a chance to see those people and places through his eyes,” Nancy writes. “The evocative portraits and landscapes enable me, even decades later, to look over his shoulder and see the same faces and vistas that compelled him to pick up his paintbrush.”
The book is available now from online stores and other booksellers.
Hans Paap outside his Taos studio in the 1950s.
Hans Paap (1890-1967), Indian in Profile, Taos, New Mexico, 1928, oil on linen, 20 x 18”. Courtesy Nancy Paap, Tesuque, NM.
Hans Paap: Portraits & Landscapes, published by the artist’s daughter, Nancy Paap.