Berninghaus, who initially trained as a commercial artist, found endless inspiration in the landscape and people of Taos, recording events and fleeting moments with a vivid, rich palette. In the present work, Crowd at Horse Race–Taos, Berninghaus remembered his inspiration specifically, stating that it was “the time of the Fiestas, late in September, a horse race is on the program and I, like many others, go to find it. On arriving there I become far more interested in the motely crowd made up of Indians from distant Pueblos and reservations, Mexican, tourists, townspeople and odd conveyances” (Ibid).
Berninghaus quickly captured this inspiring moment with small pencil sketches highlighted with crayon color and ‘mental notes.’ The finished work was later rendered in the artist’s studio, which was typical of paintings of this scale and complexity. Berninghaus recalled his process in the studio and noted that “As the work progressed color and pigment were applied more plastically until its final completion. It is the method I employ on compositions of the nature. For variety I have a penchant for painting groups, mingling crowds and have painted many. This painting is an excellent example” (Ibid).
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