Emil Bisttram (1895-1976) was born in Hungary and immigrated to New York City with his family at 11. It wasn’t until his mid-30s that he visited Taos, but he fell in love with the area and would become a major player in the art colony when he moved there a year later.
In 1933 Bisttram helped open the first art gallery in Taos and in 1938 he co-founded the Transcendental Painting Group (TPG), a collective of local painters that was influenced by Kandinsky and other early abstract expressionists. Among his friends in the TPG were Raymond Jonson, Will Lumpkins, and Alfred Morang.
Bisttram did both abstract and representational work, seeking spiritual transcendence in his explorations of pure geometric form and capturing the beauty of his surroundings in sweeping Southwestern landscape paintings.
His murals can be found in the courthouses in Taos and Roswell, New Mexico and the lobby of the Department of Justice Building in Washington D.C.