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The John A. and Margaret Hill Collection of American Western Art

June 28 - September 14, 2003


John and Margaret Hill collected paintings, prints and drawings that expressed their abiding interest in the West. Mr. Hill, born in Oklahoma and raised in Colorado, and Mrs. Hill, brought up on a ranch in New Mexico, started their collection soon after they were married in 1930. The Hills continued to build their collection for 60 years. They acquired work by some of the leading Western artists of the twentieth century: Oscar Berninghaus, Eanger Irving Couse, Maynard Dixon, Walter Ufer and Emil Bisttram. The collection came to the Cheekwood Museum of Art in part through a gift in 1992, with the remainder received in 1994 as a bequest from the Hills, who died that summer. The exhibition at the Hunter is a selection of 25 works from this collection. (left: John Steuart Curry, Texas John Kelly, 1921 Oil on Linen)

The exhibition offers a survey of western imagery, including landscapes, architectural subjects and the individuals who inhabit the West. A number of the artists whose works appear at the Hunter Museum were part of the Taos Society of Artists. The group, formed in 1912, was comprised of artists from the East who came to New Mexico and painted the West as they envisioned it. For example, Eanger Irving Couse's The Fire Maker typifies his idealized vision of Native American life. Emil Bisstram's watercolor of Ranchos Church de Taos depicts a landmark of the Spanish heritage in the Southwest. Robert Henri is best known as a leading member of The Eight, a group of early twentieth century artists who focused on the everyday realities of urban life. However, Henri, too, came to Taos to teach and paint as evidenced by the painting in this exhibition of Juan, a young Mexican boy.

This exhibition also has some surprises as in the painting of cowboy, Texas John Kelly by John Steuart Curry. Curry was a Regionalist artist who usually painted Midwestern scenes in his home state of Kansas. (left: Emil Bisttram, Ranchos Church, 1914 Watercolor}

This project is funded under an agreement with the State of Tennessee, the National Endowment for the Arts and Allied Arts of Greater Chattanooga.

 

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