Cowboy Bronzes: Icons of the West
Towards the end of the 19th century, America’s westward expansion was nearly complete. Aided by the sensational stories of life in the American West by writers such as Owen Wister and Teddy Roosevelt and before them, James Fenimore Cooper and Francis Parkman fascination with the West, the land, the Native Americans and those who explored and settled there had never been greater. By 1900, popular illustrated magazines such as Harper’s Weekly, were foremost in promoting the excitement and drama of frontier life.
Artwork by some of the greatest illustrators of the period frequently accompanied serialized stories of cowboys and cavalry, settlers and Indians. Perhaps more than any other artist or illustrator, Frederic S. Remington (1864-1909), was able to capture in art a view of the American West that thrilled the readers of the many publications in which his images and stories appeared. When Remington turned to sculpture at the urging of a fellow artist, it was no surprise that the “authenticity” of his illustrations was also evident in his bronzes. Remington’s sculptures were acclaimed almost immediately.
The public’s embrace of the Western genre would continue throughout the 20th century through film, comic strips and later television. By 1953 when the abstract expressionist artist Harry Jackson (1924-2011) walked away from a short but successful career, the love of the West was at fever pitch. Though critics would wonder whether Jackson would be as successful as he had been previously, figurative art was his calling and since he was a child, the West was the subject he knew the best. This small exhibition features some of the most iconic bronze works by Jackson and includes a rare “heroic bronze” of the Bronco Buster, 1909, by the artist whose work inspired him most, Frederic S. Remington.
On view October 10, 2015-January 31, 2016
Frederic Remington, Bronco Buster, modeled 1894/cast before 1918, bronze, City of Davenport Art Collection, Gift of Mrs. Alfred C. Mueller in memory of her husband, 1963.1071