R.C. Gorman

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R.C.  Gorman

R.C. Gorman

R.C. Gorman Biography

Rudolph Carl Gorman (July 26, 1931 – November 3, 2005) was a Native American artist of the Navajo Nation. Referred to as "the Picasso of American Indian artists" by the New York Times, his paintings are primarily of Native American women and characterized by fluid forms and vibrant colors, though he also worked in sculpture, ceramics, and stone lithography. He was also an avid lover of cuisine, authoring four cookbooks, (with accompanying drawings) called Nudes and Food.


Rudolph Carl Gorman was born in Chinle, Arizona. His mother was Adele Katherine Brown, and his father Carl Nelson Gorman was a noted Navajo painter and teacher. Gorman grew up in a traditional Navajo hogan and began drawing at age 3. His grandmother helped raise him, recounting Navajo legends and enumerating his genealogy of artist ancestors. She kindled his desire to become an artist. While tending sheep in Canyon de Chelly with his aunts, he used to draw on the rocks, sand, and mud, and made sculptures with the clay, with his earliest subjects including Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple. After he left high school, he served in the United States Navy before entering college, where he majored in literature and minored in art at Northern Arizona University.


In 1958, he received the first scholarship from the Navajo Tribal Council to study outside of the United States, and enrolled in the art program at Mexico City College. There he learned of and was influenced by the work of Diego Rivera. He later studied art at San Francisco State University, where he also worked as a model.


Gorman learned about the work of the Mexican social realists: Diego Rivera, David Siqueiros, and Rufino Tamayo. He became inspired by their colors and forms to change from abstraction to abstract realism. He used abstract forms and shapes to create his own unique, personal realistic style, recognizable to all who are acquainted with his work. While in Mexico, he also learned stone lithography from a master printer, Jose Sanchez. He used lithography throughout his life as a means of making original multiple images of his inspirations, often working by drawing directly on the stones from which the lithographs were printed.

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