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LaVerne Nelson Black was born in southern Wisconsin in 1887 and no doubt this rural setting influenced his artistic direction. In 1906, his family moved to Illinois and he enrolled at the Chicago Art Academy where he received his formal training.

Working for newspapers in Chicago and Minneapolis he received assignments in the West and he was able to see native people, cowboys and their changing environment first-hand.

Due to health concerns and needing a drier climate, Black moved to Taos in 1925. There, surrounded by the beauty of the high desert, his paintings became focused on the Indian. These New Mexico paintings are considered by many to be his best work. The Depression years proved difficult for Black and he relocated to Phoenix. His last projects were post office murals that he and Oscar Berninghaus completed for the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency formed to carry out public works projects. Black died in 1938.

His style combined Impressionism and Modernism, and although his art provided him some success during his lifetime, it was only later that his pictorial record of the American West was fully appreciated.

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