Harrison Begay

Navajo Artist 1914-2012

By Mikkel Saks - February 3, 2016

Harrison Begay "Feather Dance" 18.5" x 30.5" Gouache $2,000

Harrison Begay
Navajo Artist

The life of Harrison Begay bridged two worlds. His work was rooted in the early 20th century mural style pioneered by Pueblo painters such as Awa Tsireh, Tonita Peña, and Crescencio Martinez. But with the opportunities that opened up under the Roosevelt New Deal, he emerged as a popular ‘American’ painter and printmaker – with acceptance never achieved by the earlier generation.

Begay was born on the Navajo reservation in White Cone, Arizona. His mother died when he was 7 years old. At 8, he was enrolled at the Ft. Wingate boarding school. By 1939 he had graduated from the important Santa Fe Indian School, led in those years by the influential Dorothy Dunn. Further education came at the Black Mountain College in North Carolina and Phoenix Junior College.

Like many Navajos of his generation he enlisted in the US Army. For 3 years, he served under General Eisenhower and saw the Battle of Normandy. As part of those experiences, he adopted a Navajo name, “Haskay Yahne Yah” (Warrior Who Walked Up To His Enemy).

Post-war was an active time career-wise for Begay. He was included in many national shows, winning awards such as the purchase prize at the Philbrook Museum in 1946. Importantly, in the 1950’s he was one of the founders of Tewa Enterprises in Santa Fe which became a major marketing arm and printmaker of Indian art by Indian Artists.

Permanent Collections:
Museum of Modern Art, NY
Southwest Museum, Pasadena
National Cowboy & Western Hertitage Museum
Eiteljorg Museum
Great Plains Art Museum
Desert Caballeros Western Museum

Harrison Begay was one of the most admired and collected Indian artists of the 20
th century. The paintings offered are all originals and fine examples of his work. 

  "Woman with Colt" 9.5" x 7.5" Gouache $500    

  "Boy with Colt" 9.5" x 7.5" Gouache $500

"Boy with Goats" 13.5" x 10.5" Gouache $850

"Woman and Dog" 11" x 8.5" Gouache $650
Traditional and Modern Art
3019 East 2nd Avenue
Denver, Colorado 80206 

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