Rudolph Carl Gorman (July 26, 1931 - November 3, 2005) was a Native American artist of the Navajo nation. Referred to as "the Picasso of American art" by the New York Times, his paintings are primarily of Native American women and characterized by fluid forms and vibrant colors, though he also worked in sculpture, ceramics, and stone lithography.
He was also an avid lover of cuisine, authoring four cookbooks, (with accompanying drawings) called Nudes and Food. His famous friends and collectors of his work included Elizabeth Taylor, Danny DeVito, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Barry Goldwater, Gregory Peck, Erma Bombeck, Lee Marvin, Jackie Onassis and even fellow artist Andy Warhol, who silk-screened a portrait of Gorman that hung in his bathroom.
Gorman was born in Chinle, Arizona. His mother was Adele Katherine Brown, and his father, Carl Gorman, was a noted Navajo painter and teacher who later become a code talker during World War II.
Gorman grew up in a traditional Navajo Hogan and began drawing at age 3. While tending sheep in Canyon de Chelly with his aunts, he used to draw on the rocks, sand, and mud, and made sculptures with the clay, with his earliest subjects including Mickey Mouse and Shirley Temple.
He credited a teacher, Jenny Lind at Ganado Presbyterian Mission School, for his inspiration to become a full-time artist.
After he left high school, he served in the Navy before entering college, where he majored in literature and minored in art at Northern Arizona University.
In 1958, he received a scholarship from the Navajo Tribal Council to study art at Mexico City College, where he was said to have been influenced by Diego Rivera. He also later studied art at San Francisco State University and worked as a model.
Gorman moved from California to New Mexico, opening his Navajo Gallery in Taos in 1968. It was the first Native American-owned art gallery.
In 1973, he was the only living artist participating in the “Masterworks of the American Indian" show held at Metropolitan Museum in New York. One of his pieces was selected for the cover of the exhibit's catalog.
In 1983, Stephen Park and Chuck Henningsen published "R.C. Gorman: A Portrait".
Harvard University recognized him for "notable contributions to American art and Native American culture" in 1986, and Mayor Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco declared March 19 to be "Gorman Day".
In 1998, he donated art for Tom Udall's campaign for election to the U.S. House of Representatives, and in 2003, donated his personal library to Diné College in Tsaile, Arizona.
On September 18, 2005, Gorman fell at his home and was taken to Taos’ Holy Cross Hospital. On September 26, he was transferred to University Hospital (in Albuquerque). He died at age 74 on November 3. New Mexico governor Bill Richardson ordered flags to be flown at half-staff in his honor.