Born in Germany in 1876 and raised in Kentucky by his German immigrant parents, Walter Ufer began his adulthood with an apprenticeship as a lithographer before becoming a traveling journeyman in Europe. As with many of his fellow artists, he then studied in Germany and trained in Hamburg and Dresden before returning to America. Upon his return to America, he worked in Chicago as a printer and as a teacher for several years. Ufer then returned to Munich in 1911 to expand his artist skills before returning to America and traveling to Taos, New Mexico in 1914.
The personal life of Walter Ufer was tarnished by alcoholism and indebtedness, but he was an active socialist for most of his life. He could be found in the picket lines of striking workers, and his paintings also showed the oppressed nature of the Pueblos in their day to day living situations. Although he did some painting in states surrounding New Mexico, including a sketch of the Grand Canyon in 1905, he lived his life in Taos and his art is primarily known for the work that he did there of the local landscapes and natives.
Walter Ufer joined the Taos Society of Artists, a group formed to garner more interest in the arts and to promote the artwork of its members, around 1917 as an active member. With the travels of the TSA and the promotion of his work, Ufers work had become a success in the commercial and critical world of art by the 1920s. With paintings that portrayed scenes of Native American life, as well as their distinct New Mexico landscapes, Ufers work is known for his portrayal of the Taos Pueblo Indians.
The value of Ufers artwork crashed with the Stock Market and did not increase again until after his death, but Ufer did not allow this to stop him from his calling. Although the last two decades of his painting career were the lowest, he had found a patron by that time that appreciated his work enough to continue painting with a financial safety net. The artwork of Walter Ufer can be found at the Art Institute of Chicago, as well as the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. His prestigious awards included membership in the National Academy of Design in New York and he has earned a permanent place in several museums across the country.