Bill Georgenes: A Serendipitous Life in Art

Santa Fe Stories - May 7, 2012

Santa Fe artist Bill Georgenes talks about his life and work. An orphan from age 12, Georgenes worked his way through the Massachusetts School of Art and the Yale School of Art.  His life intersects with some of the great figures of mid-20th century art, including Josef Albers, Neil Welliver (known to Georgenes and his friends as Wheel Nelliver for his tendency to wheel and deal), Robert Mangold,  Mirko Basaldella and Walter Gropius, an Albers friend from the Bauhaus school.  Georgenes studied with Albers, worked for him and sold him his now famous collection of pre-Columbian art. The youngest child of a mother who had tuberculosis when he was born, Georgenes spent his first four years of life confined to the attic of his family’s Boston home.  After his mother’s death in 1933, he was placed in a sanatorium for eight years. He barely spoke English, had no toys, but began his art career drawing comic books for the adult residents.  He sold them for 10 cents each.  Since coming to Santa Fe in 1988, Georgenes has compensated for his lack of childhood toys by making intricate, playful sculptures that are wildly abundant in toys.  Bill’s dot paintings are also amazing.  See below…

An example of the work Georgenes was doing when he got the offer to go to Yale Art School in the 1950s.

Georgenes in his studio.