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Wild at Heart: National Museum of Wildlife Art

November 11, 2007 - January 6, 2008

 

The Vero Beach Museum of Art is presenting the exhibition Wild at Heart: National Museum of Wildlife Art through January 6, 2008 in the it's Holmes Gallery.

Beginning with explorer-artists, and continuing with the best contemporary painters and sculptors working today, wildlife has been a consistent theme in American art. Wild at Heart explores artists' responses to our nation's wildlife through the different regions of North America over the last century and a half. The exhibition includes 77 stunning examples of wildlife paintings and sculpture by such artists as Albert Bierstadt, John Woodhouse Audubon, George Catlin, Thomas Worthington

Whittredge, Charles Russell, Ernest Martin Hennings, Carl Rungius, and Herman Herzog, to name just a few. Instead of a chronological approach, the exhibition groups the art into different regions: East, West, North, and South. This beautiful and engaging exhibition invites viewers to see wildlife art in new ways: as natural history, art history, or simply as a fascinating chapter in our nation's history that needs no other label.

Wild at Heart is organized by the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and showcases works from their permanent collection. Founded in 1987, the mission of the National Museum of Wildlife Art is to explore and interpret humanity's relationship with wildlife and nature as it has been expressed in art.

 

Exhibition Overview

Wild at Heart presents a selection of paintings and sculptures from the National Museum of Wildlife Art, in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. The exhibition features highlights from the museum's historical and contemporary art collection. The exhibition focuses on North American wildlife from the Unite States and Canada.

Instead of a chronological approach, this exhibition groups the art into different regions, East, West, North, and South, corresponding to areas that have been of particular interest to artists and naturalists over the last century and a half. Wildlife art created in the East tended to focus on the Hudson River Valley and Adirondack Mountains, where artists and tourists went to escape expanding urban areas. In the late 1800s, wilderness could also be found in the midst of the city, attested to by Albert Bierstadt's luminous scene of a deer in Central Park, New York City, NY. (right: Albert Bierstadt (Germany, 1830-1902), Winter Dawn, c. 1890, Oil on Paper Mounted to Linen. JKM Collection, National Museum of Wildlife Art J0988.031

At the same time artists were painting in the Hudson River Valley, explorers such as George Catlin and William Jacob hays were heading west, beyond the frontier, to paint the wildlife and landscape for an interested eastern audience. The West has been a mecca for artists since those early days thanks to the spectacular mountain ranges, national parks, and wildlife including birds, bison, elk, deer, bear, pronghorn, and a wide array of smaller species. (left: William Jacob Hays (United States, 1830-1875), Rocky Mountain Hares, 1858, Oil on Canvas. National Museum of Wildlife Art Permanent Collection M0995.151)

As European immigrants moved across the continent, they discovered the splendor and majesty of the American Southwest. In the early 1900s, a group of artists, including William H Dunton, founded the Taos Artists Society. Their goal was to paint the beautiful southwestern light and capture the remaining native and wildlife populations on canvas. Painter William R, Leigh also made the Southwest a recurring subject of his work. The South is a large geographical area with diverse wildlife populations. Among the attractions for contemporary artists such as Robert Bateman are the coastal regions, which feature both sea life and flocks of migratory birds. (right: William R. Leigh (United States, 1866-1955), Voice of the Desert, 1914. Oil on Canvas mounted to board. JKM Collection, National Museum of Wildlife Art JL0994.024)

By the early 1900s, the American West was growing more populated, making large wildlife populations and pristine wilderness more difficult to find. Artists journeyed north into Canada's Banff National Park to locate subjects such as caribou, mountain sheep, and bears. Carl Rungius led this migration in the early 1900s, and was followed by a host of other artists including contemporary artists Bob Kuhn and Ken Carlson. (left: Ken Carlson (United States, b. 1937), On the Edge, 1982. Oil on Masonite. National Museum of Wildlife Art Permanent Collection M0987.031)

Wildlife art is as diverse as the regions from which it comes and can be appreciated from a variety of different perspectives. It can be seen as an integral chapter in the history of art, as an indicator of cultural concerns about the environment, or as a genre that continually analyzes humanity's relationship with nature. Wildlife art can also be approached from a naturalist standpoint, respected for its accurate and stunning depictions of North America's animal population. The exhibit will help viewers see wildlife art in new ways: as natural history, art history, or simply as a fascinating chapter in American history that needs no other label.

Founded in 1987, the National Museum of Wildlife Art began life in a small commercial building on the town square in Jackson, Wyoming. Currently located in a 51,000 square foot architectural gem, the museum holds the most comprehensive collection of wildlife art in the world, with over 4,000 paintings, sculptures, works on paper, and archival materials.

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