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Janet Lippincott

Janet Lippincott (1918-2007) was born in New York City into an upper-class family. An aunt, Gertrude Lawton Lippincott, a modern dancer and founder of the Modern Dance Center in Minneapolis, took her niece to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and it was seeing a Pablo Picasso that made a lasting impact upon the young girl [1].

Her father, international banker, William J. Lippincott, took the family to Paris and for six years, she attended a French convent school.  Following the families return to New York, she was a pupil at the Todhunter School, a private girls’ school [2]. At age 15, she attended the Arts Students League to study life drawing. Later, she studied at the League full time [3]. This was a heady but difficult and disruptive time for art, culture, and society in New York and elsewhere. Only five years prior, the 1913 Armory Show rocked the art world in New York. Immigrants were trying to get to America from other countries due to religious and ethnic persecution, and these were the years of the Great Depression. 

Lippincott became a WAC (Women’s Army Corp) during World War II as an attaché to General Dwight D. Eisenhower in London. During one of the German Luftwaffe bombings, she fell through several floors and broke her back. For the rest of her life, she was an activist against war after witnessing firsthand the war’s destruction [4].

Following the war, she used the G.I bill to attend school, settling ultimately with the Transcendentalist Taos School of Art group with Emil Bisttram. Bisttram discouraged her but she persisted [5]. The New York artists, like those in New Mexico, were primarily male. 

Her art became all, and she wrote that, “I am a painter and my feelings are all I can contribute to this world.” [6] Unlike the Taos Transcendentalists, she preferred to paint in an abstract and non-representational style. She did attend the John Sloan Drawing Group under the direction of Bob Ewing for many years, and in her drawing she worked in a representational style [7].

When back problems due to her injury became acute in the 1980’s, Lippincott switched from large scale paintings to small watercolors. She became interested in prints at the Tamarind Institute in Albuquerque and participated in the College of St. John Monothons and created a series of lithographs [8]

When the Shidoni Foundry opened in Tesuque in 1971, she began to explore sculpture [9]. She lived in Tesuque before building a studio/home on Upper Canyon Road in 1957, a mecca area for art to this day in Santa Fe. 


Given the hold that the land and light have had on the artists working in New Mexico, she, unlike most, held with abstraction. Eschewing a typical life, she remained pure to her art and art alone. Occasionally one of her works might have a title that is representational, though, many of her paintings remain untitled. Lippincott’s style varies from a gestural all over painting to blocks and thick lines of rich color. Geometric and linear forms can combine with biomorphic designs. Motifs such as stars, circles, and squiggles punctuate the blocks [10].

As with many female artists, recognition has taken time. In 2002, she was awarded the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts and in 2003, she was the recipient of the Arts Achievement Award from the New Mexico Committee of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C. [11]

In a final gesture to the power of art, she left her painting legacy to St. John’s College in 2007 [12].



[2] Ibid




[6] Ibid



[9] Ibid.




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