Dane G. Hansen Museum
The West In American Art From the William and Dorothy Harmsen Collection of Western Americana
The Dane G. Hansen Museum is pleased to present The West In American Art from the William and Dorothy Harmsen Collection of Western Americana, a comprehensive exhibition of approximately sixty paintings exploring our fascination with the American west on display August 9, 1998 through September 27, 1998.
It was during the 19th century that Americans became particularly intrigued by the country's geological formations, landscapes, legends, and native American cultures. This preoccupation with the American landscape and native cultures continues today.
The exhibit will introduce five themes linking artistic creations to the cultures and eras that produced them. In "American Landscape and a National Identity" both the observational and poetic approaches to 19th century landscape are examined, helping to strengthen an American sense of pride in the diversity and beauty of the nation's natural environment.
"Colorado Inspiration" illustrates how the state's rugged mountains, stately trees, quiet streams and colorful mining camps all provided inspiration far the artists of the early 19th century as well as artists of the present.
In "Western Crossroads," the clash between the white man and native cultures offers exciting, though often misleading, material for artists. Peaceful encounters were generally the rule. More often then not, the drama of conflict found its way onto the canvases frequently casting the natives in the role of the villain rather than historical reality.
"Creating the Myth of the West" shows how late 19th century publishing influenced the subject matter of paintings. Works tended to tell a story, freezing a moment of drama or tension in a way that could often be seen as an illustration for a periodical or novel.
"The Southwest" section includes the work of both the Taos Society of Artists and the Santa Fe Colony together with their followers. During the first half of this century, these artists astonished the art establishment with their depictions of Hispanic and Native American life set in a landscape offering majestic vistas and vivid natural lighting.
Organized for national tour by the Colorado Historical Society in Denver, Colorado, the paintings have been selected from the William and Dorothy Harmsen Collection of Western Americana which is important both for its aesthetic and historical content. With the assistance of Smith Kramer, Inc., a fine arts service company located in Kansas City, Missouri, the exhibition will travel to eleven American museums over the next three years.
From top to bottom: William R. Leigh, Greased Lightning, 1946, oil on canvas, 28 x 22 inches; Gerard Curtis Delano, Friend or Foe?, n.d., oil on canvas, 23 x 40 inches; F. C. Bromley, Mountain of the Holy Cross; On the brochure cover: Cassilly Adams, Warning the Wagon Train, 1883, oil on canvas, 30 x 50 inches.
For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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