Roots of American Spirit Explored in Exhibition of Art of the West
Exhibition features masterworks by Remington and Russell, rare objects from 19th-century Plains Indian life, and treasures from Buffalo Bill Cody’s famous Wild West show
ATLANTA, March 28, 2013 ― The High Museum of Art will bring masterpieces and historical treasures of the American West to Atlanta in fall 2013 as the exclusive venue for “Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.”
Drawn from the unparalleled collection of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyo., the exhibition features major works of art and important artifacts including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, frontier firearms and objects from Native American cultures that showcase the exploration and settlement of the American West. Through these objects, the exhibition highlights the ways visual images and stories of explorers and legendary western celebrities such as Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley and Chief Sitting Bull continue to inform American identity and character today. “Go West!” will be on view at the High from Nov. 3, 2013 through April 13, 2014.
Highlights from the exhibition include:
- Artwork created for Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show, including posters, photographs and paintings of Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley and Sitting Bull.
- More than a dozen majestic landscape paintings, including some of the earliest painted representations of the American West by Albert Bierstadt and representations of America’s first National Park by Thomas “Yellowstone” Moran.
- Paintings and sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell.
- Recreational frontier firearms and the advertisements that promoted them.
- Objects for work, play and war crafted by members of Plains tribes, including a deer hide and porcupine quill war bonnet, a toy cradle and exquisitely beaded deer hide moccasins.
- Mammoth plate photographs produced during the construction of the transcontinental railroads in the late 19th century by survey photographers such as William Henry Jackson.
“The westward expansion of our country is a compelling saga, and this exhibition visually demonstrates the complexity of our nation’s expansion through great works of art,” said Michael Shapiro, Nancy & Holcombe T. Green Jr. director of the High.
The exhibition begins with early 19th-century representations of the West made by the artist-explorers who traveled with government surveyors to map the continent. Complementing these representational artworks are objects made by Sioux, Kiowa and other Native American tribe members who interacted with the earliest frontier settlers.
Moving into the early 20th century, “Go West!” demonstrates how these early representations and objects gave way to widespread perceptions of the West. Paintings and sculptures by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell portray so-called cowboy and Indian dramas, and populist paintings and advertisements for recreational firearms highlight the way in which the West became known as America’s playground.
America’s growing romance with the West in the 20th century can be attributed, in part, to the theatrics of Buffalo Bill Cody and his Wild West show. “Go West!” includes a focus gallery that examines the extraordinary union of popular culture and history in the Wild West show and the art that the shows inspired.
“Stories of the West not only continue to permeate American culture today, but also influence our contemporary values of opportunity and innovation,” said Stephanie Heydt, Margaret and Terry Stent curator of American art at the High. “Viewing objects from the American West and paintings inspired by the frontier provides a unique opportunity to see the origins of the American entrepreneurial spirit.”
Concurrently with “Go West!” at the High, the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, Ga., presents “Today’s West! Contemporary Western Art from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West” (Oct. 24, 2013 through April 13, 2014). “Today’s West!” immerses visitors in the artistic developments occurring in art of the American West over the past 50 years, bringing the story of the High’s exhibition to the present day.
“Go West!” is accompanied by a 160-page, illustrated catalogue published by the High in association with the Yale University Press. The catalogue features essays by Heydt, Mindy N. Besaw, Buffalo Bill Center of the West John S. Bugas curator of the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, and Emma Hansen, curator of the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Also featured is a section on “Today’s West!” with text by Booth Western Art Museum Executive Director Seth Hopkins. The catalogue will be available for purchase at the High and the Booth Western Art Museum, as well as through Yale University Press.
Exhibition Organization and Support
“Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West” is co-organized by the High Museum of Art and the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The exhibition is made possible by The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the James M. Cox Foundation, a Patron of the High Museum of Art, The Fraser-Parker Foundation and the Isobel Anne Fraser-Nancy Fraser Parker Exhibition Endowment.
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, located in Cody, Wyo., weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For general information, visit www.bbhc.org.
High Museum of Art
Founded in 1905 as the Atlanta Art Association, the High is the leading art museum in the southeastern U.S. With more than 13,000 works of art in its permanent collection, the High Museum of Art has an extensive anthology of 19th- and 20th-century American and decorative art; significant holdings of European paintings; a growing collection of African American art; and burgeoning collections of modern and contemporary art, photography, and African art. The High is also dedicated to supporting and collecting works by Southern artists and is distinguished as the first major museum in North America to have a curatorial department specifically devoted to the field of folk and self-taught art. The High’s media arts department produces acclaimed annual film series and festivals of foreign, independent and classic cinema. In November 2005 the High opened three new buildings by architect Renzo Piano that more than doubled the Museum’s size, creating a vibrant “village for the arts” at the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown Atlanta. For more information about the High visit www.High.org.
The Woodruff Arts Center
The Woodruff Arts Center is ranked among the top four arts centers in the nation. The Woodruff is unique in that it combines four visual and performing arts divisions on one campus as one not-for-profit organization. Opened in 1968, the Woodruff Arts Center is home to the Alliance Theatre, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the High Museum of Art and Young Audiences. To learn more about the Woodruff Arts Center visit www.woodruffcenter.org.
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