Gene Kloss | A Printmaking Virtuoso

By Jennifer F. Cook

A retrospective exhibition of more than 185 works from Gene Kloss’ 60-year career, A Kloss Celebration: Prints, Paintings, and Poetry, is on view through November 28 at the Sangre de Cristo Arts Center in Pueblo, CO.

Self-Portrait and the Golden Gate [1951], drypoint, 14 x 11. Courtesy Gallery A, Taos, NM., Southwest Art
Self-Portrait and the Golden Gate [1951], drypoint, 14 x 11. Courtesy Gallery A, Taos, NM.

The artwork of Gene Kloss [1903-1996] is a hidden treasure. Perhaps because she was a woman, perhaps because she was a printmaker, perhaps because she was younger than the artists in the Taos Society—whatever the reason, Kloss is seldom mentioned in discussions about the early Taos art colony. Yet she began producing intaglio prints in and around Taos in the mid-1920s and continued through the mid-’80s, creating a significant body of work.

Born Alice Geneva Glasier in Oakland, CA, Kloss grew up amid the worldly bustle of the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with honors in art in 1924. She discovered her talents in intaglio printmaking during a senior-year course in figurative drawing. The professor, Perham Nahl, held up a print from Kloss’ first plate, still damp from the printing process, and announced that she was destined to become a printmaker.

In 1925 Gene married Phillips Kloss, a poet and composer who became her creative partner for life. The match was uncanny, for in her own way Gene, too, was a poet and a composer. Like poetry, her artworks capture a moment in time; like music, her compositions sing with aesthetic harmony. Although she was largely self-taught, Kloss was a printmaking virtuoso.

Featured in “Book Excerpt” May 2009