Charles Berninghaus was the son of Oscar Berninghaus, one of the founders of the Taos Society of Artists and an important artist in his own time. He experienced both the inspiration of his father’s work and devotion to Taos, and the challenge of establishing his own vision and style.
As the son of a nationally renowned artist, Charles Berninghaus was surrounded by the materials, people, and ideas of the art world from his infancy. Born May 19, 1905, in St. Louis Missouri, he saw Taos for the first time when he was five. Following the death of their mother in 1913, Charles and his sister Dorothy spent every summer in Taos with their father, the artist Oscar Berninghaus. They often went with him on his painting and sketching trips into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and came to know the artists and the life of the flourishing Taos Art Colony. Gently encouraged by his father, but never pushed toward any particular style of subject matter, Charles studied art at the St. Louis School of Fine Arts, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Art Students League in New York. He marked the beginning of his own professional career by abandoning the crowds and bustle of the big city for the clear, open landscapes of Taos, where he became a permanent resident in 1927.
With a looser technique than his father’s, more impressionistic in style and palette, Charles devoted himself to painting out-of-doors, attempting to capture the fleeting effects of shadow and light on the flowers, trees, streams, and mountains around him, rather than the scenes of Pueblo life that captivated his father.
A review of the St. Louis Art League exhibit in the "St. Louis Globe," October 28, 1923, states: "... Charles, who comes to the League show with four sketches in which it is impossible to find any trace of 'parental authority.' In fact, J. Charles considers his father something of an old fogy in art. He has his own ideas, and they are exceedingly modern." As observed by Barbara Brenner, Charles’ niece and Oscar’s granddaughter, “Charles' more modern and impressionistic paintings served as a transition from the works of the early Taos artists to that of Robert Daughters, Rod Goebel, Walt Gonske and others.”
Exhibition overview from museum website