ERNEST KNEE (1907-1982)

Ernest Knee was a well-known photographer and cultural figure in Santa Fe in the 1930s and 1940s who is best known for his extensive body of photographs of northern New Mexico.

Like many of his non-Native New Mexican contemporaries, Knee was smitten with the area’s distinctive architecture, crafts traditions, and landscape. He first visited Santa Fe in 1931 and soon relocated to the flourishing art community of Camino del Monte Sol. Knee was part of the Santa Fe artist community that included Gustave Baumann, and Will Shuster and he was friends with many of the artists who visited the area regularly (John Sloan, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, etc.). Mabel Dodge Lujan introduced Knee to Georgia O’Keeffe when she came to New Mexico and he sometimes photographed her paintings, as he did for other artist friends. The images he captured of southwestern landscapes, the churches at Ranches de Taos, the ruins at Canyon de Chelly, the sand hills of Abiquiu, and many other locations comprise a remarkable visual record of New Mexico in the 1930s and `4Os. The house that he built in Tesuque was later occupied for many decades by the photographer Eliot Porter. Prior to coming to New Mexico, Knee served as personal photographer to Howard Hughes and is thought to be the first to photograph Angel Falls in the Venezuelan jungle, one of the world’s highest waterfalls. (Biography comprised of text by Katherine Ware 2013 and Dana Knee 2005)

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