Janet Lippincott (1918-2007) was born in New York City where her interest in art was cultivated through trips to the museums as a child. Her mother enrolled her in a drawing class at the Artist Student’s League at the age of fifteen and she continued her studies there after high school. Her early exposure to contemporary art movements influenced her work from the beginning and when she moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1957 her ideas on modernist painting “shook up” the local art scene there.
Lippincott worked within a variety of mediums during her career but was at her core a painter. In a 1980 interview for Southwest Art, she stated; "Abstract painting is an intellectual process. To be a modern painter and to make a truthful statement is the sum total of all I am and what I am continually striving to create. I am a painter and my paintings are all I can contribute to this world.”
After serving with the Women’s Army Corps during WWII, Lippincott used her GI Bill stipend to travel to Taos, NM in 1949 where she studied at the Taos School of Art with Emil Bisttram, one of the founders of the Transcendental Painting Group. She was awarded fellowships in the early 1950s to continue her studies at the California School of Fine Arts and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. The time spent at both these institutions provided her with an excellent introduction to Abstract Expressionism, the style of which ultimately influenced her life’s work.
The artist returned to New Mexico in 1954, first living in Tesuque and ultimately settling in Santa Fe where she played a pivotal role in the development of abstract art in the Southwest. It took time for her to be accepted in the Santa Fe art scene as it was mostly focused on traditional landscape painting when she first arrived. However, the Southwest art critics eventually recognized her talent and she enjoyed a career filled with awards and shows of her work during the 1950s to the 1970s.
Although she primarily focused on painting during her 70 year career, Lippincott also maintained a consistent drawing practice as a member of the John Sloan Drawing Group, worked with printmaking techniques and branched into sculpture works with bronze. She was a guest artist at the Tamarind Institute at the University of Albuquerque in the early 1970s where she produced a series of lithographs. In 1971 she joined the newly founded Shidoni Foundry in Tesuque to explore working in bronze, the output of which depicted the abstract expressionist forms from her two-dimensional works into three-dimensional sculptures.
During the later part of the 1970s and into the 1980s she experimented with acrylics, monotypes and ultimately watercolors. She produced many works during this time at the College of Saint John in Santa Fe, participating in its “Monothons” and ultimately leaving her entire estate to the school upon her death.
Janet Lippincott remained a key figure in the abstract artists community of Santa Fe during her career. She relished her ability to create within a smaller art community, continually drawing inspiration from the environment, form and color that New Mexico offered.
During the last decade of her life she enjoyed a renewed interest in her work as interest in abstract art expanded in the West. Her work has been included in two exhibitions of New Mexico modernists: “The Second Wave: New Mexico Modernists after World War II,” at the Karen Ruhlen Gallery in Santa Fe in 2007, and “New Landscapes, New Vistas: Women Artists of New Mexico,” at the Matthews Gallery in Santa Fe, in 2016.
Upon passing away in 2007 the Santa Fean magazine wrote; “Compositionally akin to Matisse and Picasso, but with softer contrasts, kinder hues and an innately more fluid if gauzy way with lines and shapes, Lippincott ended up an artist’s artist, and created lasting images of the female form and abstract arrangements of emotionally rich and inviting shapes.”
A retrospective of her work was held at the Matthews Gallery in Santa Fe, NM in 2016 where it was noted that; “Whatever obstacles she faced, she never wavered from her strong and committed artistic vision. The best of her work stands equally alongside the noted artists of the period.”
The Estate of Janet Lippincott is represented by The Matthews Gallery.
2003 New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts
2002 Arts Achievement Award, New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC.
Frederick R. Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis, MN
Columbia Museum of Fine Arts, Columbia, SC
Fred Jones Jr. Art Museum, Norman, OK
Oklahoma City Museum of Art, Oklahoma City, OK
New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM
New Mexico State Capital Art Collection, Santa Fe, NM
Harwood Foundation, Taos, NM
University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM
Utah Museum of Fine Arts, Salt Lake City, UT
Yellowstone Art Museum, Billings, MT
Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara, CA
Davis, Graham & Stubbs, Denver, CO
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, Denver, CO