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Drama, Death, Dirge: Frederic Remington’s American West

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Drama, Death, Dirge: Frederic Remington’s American West

Perhaps no artist is synonymous with the American West more than Frederic Remington (1861-1909), whose dramatic portrayals of its dangers inspired countless imitators in pulp magazines, plays, and Hollywood movies. Remington seized on the trope of the vanishing American West to eulogize a perceived heroic past, one filled with scrappy, no-nonsense cowboys, thundering horses, and brave or hostile Native Americans. An exceptional storyteller, Remington also used the western landscape—barren, sparse, and arid, as a major player in the telling of his tales, in which any human or animal activity that takes place upon it stands out starkly as elemental, and even primal. A native of upstate New York, Remington attended Yale College to study art (and play the new game of football), but dropped out to pursue a dream of living in the West. Only during one of his failed business ventures in the West did he recognize his ambition to become an artist. He became an illustrator, and then a nationally-recognized painter and sculptor, writer and playwright. In every medium, he purveyed themes derived from stories, histories, or his own experiences of the West, which he visited throughout his life away from his home near New York City.

This small exhibition brings together four outstanding examples of Remington’s work in painting and sculpture from institutions that rarely lend them: one from the Birmingham Museum of Art and three from the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. They are: The Flight (1895); Wounded Bunkie (1896); New Year on the Cimarron (1903), and The Call for Help (1909).


Related Program:

Thu Feb 19, 6 pm
Mary Eddy and Fred Jones Auditorium
B. Byron Price, Director, Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West and Charles Marion Russell Memorial Chair, OU
True to Life? The Equine and Equestrian Art of Frederic Remington
The most celebrated and prolific American equine and equestrian artist of his day, Frederic Remington painted and sculpted thousands of horses of every breed and station and considered the oft repeated adage “he knew the horse,” a worthy epitaph. Although the artist’s stirring portrayals of equines in action called into question the impact of photography on his work, among late nineteenth century American artists, his images of horses and riders were in a class by themselves, and were the standard by which other such work was judged.

Read the press release here.


IMAGE: Frederic Remington (1861-1909) The Call for Help, 1909