Ira Diamond Gerald Cassidy was born in Covington, Kentucky. The son of a builder, he grew up in Cincinnati. At the age of twelve he became a pupil of Duveneck at the Institute of Mechanical Arts. By the time he was twenty, Cassidy was already the art director for a lithographer in New York City.
Stricken by pneumonia in 1899, he entered a sanitarium in Albuquerque where he first painted the Southwest and changed his signature from Ira Diamond Cassidy to Gerald Cassidy. When he recovered sufficiently, he moved to Denver as a commercial artist and lithographer specializing in theatrical subjects. After returning briefly to New York City, where he studied at the National Academy of Design and the famed Art Students League, he married and settled in Santa Fe in 1912. He also painted actively in Los Angeles, California from 1913 to 1921.
Intending to devote his talent to recording Indian life in the light and color of New Mexico, his first Indian drawings reproduced on post cards were sophisticated and art nouveau rather than the typical Victorian style of the day. Recognition came by 1915 with his mural The Cliff Dwellers of the Southwest. In the 1920's his small plein aire landscapes were most highly sought after and his style continued to resist the influence of the New Mexico modernists.
He traveled abroad in 1926, visiting Europe and North Africa. While in France, he utilized his 1925 sketches of Navajo subjects to execute two major oil paintings; one commissioned by the Santa Fe Railway and the other for the French government.
Gerald Cassidy died in Santa Fe while working on a mural for the Santa Fe Federal Building. The partially completed work remains there to this day.
ARTWORK: Gerald Cassidy
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