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Ernest Knee

Ernest Knee

American, born Canada, 1907 - 1982

Ernest Knee was a well-known photographer and cultural figure in Santa Fe in the 1930s and 1940s who is best known for his extensive body of photographs of northern New Mexico.

Like many of his Anglo contemporaries, Knee was smitten with the area’s distinctive architecture, crafts traditions, and landscape. Knee was part of the Santa Fe artist community that included Gustave Baumann, and Will Shuster and he was friends with many of the artists who visited the area regularly (John Sloan, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams, etc.). Mabel Dodge Lujan introduced Knee to Georgia O’Keeffe when she came to New Mexico and he sometimes photographed her paintings, as he did for other artist friends. The house that he built in Tesuque was later occupied for many decades by the photographer Eliot Porter. Prior to coming to New Mexico, Knee served as personal photographer to Howard Hughes and is thought to be the first to photograph Angel Falls in the Venezuelan jungle, one of the world’s highest waterfalls. (Ware 2013)