Andrew Michael Dasburg (1887-1979) was born in Paris, France, to German parents. After his father died and when he was five, Dasburg and his mother moved to New York City. In 1902 Dasburg started attending classes at the Art Students' League and studied with Kenyon Cox and Frank Du Mond. He also took night classes with Robert Henri. In 1907 he received a scholarship to the Art Students' League summer school in Woodstock, New York and spent three summers studying there in Birge Harrison's painting class. While in school he became friends with many young artists, including Morgan Russell and his future wife, Grace Mott Johnson.
Grace Mott Johnson (1882-1967) was born in New York City. She began drawing when she was four years old, and when the family moved to a farm in 1900 she enjoyed sketching horses and other farm animals. At the age of 22 she left home to study at the Art Students' League with sculptors Gutzon Borglum and James Earle Fraser, and also attended Birge Harrison's painting class in Woodstock. Throughout her career she would sculpt animals from memory, and would often attend circuses and farms for inspiration.
In 1909 Johnson and Dasburg went to Paris and joined the modernist circle of artists living there, including Morgan Russell, Jo Davidson, and Arthur Lee. During a trip to London that same year they were married. Johnson returned to the United States early the next year, but Dasburg stayed in Paris where he met Henri Matisse, Gertrude and Leo Stein, and became influenced by the paintings of Cezanne and Cubism. He returned to Woodstock, New York in August and he and Johnson became active members of the artist community. In 1911 their son Alfred was born. Both Dasburg and Johnson showed several works at the legendary Armory Show in 1913, and Dasburg also showed at the MacDowell Club in New York City, where he met the journalist and activist John Reed who later introduced him to Mabel Dodge (Luhan), a wealthy art patron and lifelong friend. In 1914 Dasburg met Alfred Stieglitz and became part of his avant-garde circle. Using what he had seen in Paris, Dasburg became one of the earliest American cubist artists, and also experimented with abstraction in his paintings.
Dasburg and Johnson lived apart for most of their marriage. By 1917 they had separated and Dasburg began teaching painting in Woodstock and in New York City. In 1918 he was invited to Taos, New Mexico by Mabel Dodge, and returning in 1919, Johnson joined him there for a period of time. Also in 1919, Dasburg was one of the founding members of the Woodstock Artists Association with John F. Carlson, Frank Swift Chase, Carl Eric Lindin, and Henry Lee McFee. In 1922 Dasburg and Johnson divorced, and also at that time he began living most of the year in Santa Fe with Ida Rauh, spending the rest of the year in Woodstock and New York City. Dasburg became an active member of the Santa Fe and the Taos art colonies, befriending many artists and writers living in these communities, and remaining close friends with Mabel Dodge Luhan. Here he moved away from abstraction, and used the southwestern landscape as the inspiration for his paintings.
In 1928 he married Nancy Lane. When that marriage ended in 1932, he moved permanently to Taos, and with his third wife, Marina Wister, built a home and studio there. Dasburg periodically taught art privately and at the University of New Mexico. In 1937 he was diagnosed with Addison's disease, which left him unable to paint again until 1946. In 1945 he and his wife Marina separated. Dasburg was recognized for his career as an artist in a circulating retrospective organized by the American Federation of Arts in 1959. He also had retrospectives in Taos in 1966 and 1978. His artwork influence several generations of artists, especially in the southwest, and he continued creating art until his death in 1979 at the age of 92.
Grace Mott Johnson lived in the Johnson family home in Yonkers, New York during the 1920s and later moved to Pleasantville, New York. In 1924 she went to Egypt to study ancient Egyptian sculpture. During the 1930s she became a civil rights activist. She produced very little art during the last twenty years of her life.