Paul Burlin (1886-1969) was born in New York City and had a difficult childhood that he preferred not to discuss. He left home at 16 and studied part-time at the National Academy of Art and the New York Art Students League from 1900 to 1912. During that time, he traveled to Europe to study art and also visited Santa Fe in 1910.
Burlin’s Southwestern work was well-received back in New York, and in 1913 he was invited to exhibit the paintings in the Armory Show. The same year, he moved back to Santa Fe to develop a new body of work, which he exhibited in New York City. Burlin’s early works in New Mexico were genre paintings of the Pueblo Indians in a realist style, but he soon developed a colorful abstract vocabulary ruled by symbols both ancient and modern.
Though he moved away from New Mexico in 1920, Burlin’s artistic evolution in the Land of Enchantment influenced his work for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, late in life Burlin began to lose his sight. His final series of paintings, completed while he was legally blind, were exhibited at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1971, two years after Burlin’s death