Homer Dean Boss (1882-1956)

Homer Dean Boss Museum Collections


Born in Blandford, Massachusetts, Homer Boss pursued art from a very young age. His family moved to Springfield, MA in the 1890s. Boss worked there as a die setter for Moore Drop Forge, but left for New York City in 1900 to find art training.

In New York he studied at the New York School of Art, which was formerly known as the Chase School after William Merritt Chase who joined the faculty in 1902. Boss also studied with Thomas Anschutz at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art in Philadelphia.

Also joining the faculty of the New York School of Art in 1902 was Robert Henri (1865-1929). In 1909, Henri established his own school of art, named the Henri School of Art. Homer was one of the “Fifteen Group” of Henri’s students which included Edward Hopper and consisted of those artists who rebelled against the traditional academic training of the National Academy. In 1910 Henri secretly sold his school to Homer Boss, while continuing to provide classroom critiques. Henri then left for Europe. Upon his return he had a disagreement with Boss who then renamed the school the Independent School and continued to teach there.

Boss’ two main teachers, Chase and Henri, had very different styles. Chase believed in delicate detail and visual accuracy, while Henri encouraged spontaneity and fat brushwork. But Boss used the training in different techniques to develop his own style.

Starting in 1925 Boss made regular trips to New Mexico. He earned a reputation for doing skilled landscapes of the Southwest desert. In a review printed in the New York Times Art Digest in 1933, Howard Devree wrote that Boss “has succeeded in presenting some of the amazing desert formations, and has produced cloud effects, contours of rock and brilliance of color calculated to cause the dwellers among artificial canyons of steel and stone to raise both eyebrows.”

He eventually settled on a ranch in Santa Cruz, New Mexico in 1933, and died there of emphysema in 1956. His work is in numerous collections which include the Georgia Museum of Art and the Museum of New Mexico.

1. Peggy and Harold Samuels, The Illustrated Biographical Encyclopedia of Artists of the American West
2. Doris Dawdy, Artists of the American West, Vol. III