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A GRAND ADVENTURE: AMERICAN ART OF THE WEST

September 27th, 2014 – January 4th, 2015
Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Desert

The epic nineteenth-century landscape paintings of Yosemite and Yellowstone by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran introduced the American public to the grandeur of the West. As the western territories opened up to development, increasing numbers of artists including Charles Russell, Henry F. Farny, and William R. Leigh were drawn to the promise of adventure that the American frontier provided, and by the turn of the 20th century, a new genre of Western art had developed. As populations in the Southwest and Southern California grew -- made possible in large part due to the completion of the railroads to Santa Fe and Los Angeles -- so did the demand for art. Artists found both financial support and refuge from the hectic urban centers of New York and Chicago within the small communities of Taos, Santa Fe, Laguna Beach, and Pasadena. Forming colonies, clubs, and associations, these groups organized exhibitions to help promote their new western subjects and styles. As the West became synonymous with the American ideals of freedom and individuality, many of these artists believed that the future of American art was in Western art: “Out there in the West,” declared Kansas artist Birger Sandzen, “a painter could develop a style of his own to fit the country.”

The epic nineteenth-century landscape paintings of Yosemite and Yellowstone by Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran introduced the American public to the grandeur of the West. As the western territories opened up to development, increasing numbers of artists including Charles Russell, Henry F. Farny, and William R. Leigh were drawn to the promise of adventure that the American frontier provided, and by the turn of the 20th century, a new genre of Western art had developed. As populations in the Southwest and Southern California grew -- made possible in large part due to the completion of the railroads to Santa Fe and Los Angeles -- so did the demand for art. Artists found both financial support and refuge from the hectic urban centers of New York and Chicago within the small communities of Taos, Santa Fe, Laguna Beach, and Pasadena. Forming colonies, clubs, and associations, these groups organized exhibitions to help promote their new western subjects and styles. As the West became synonymous with the American ideals of freedom and individuality, many of these artists believed that the future of American art was in Western art: “Out there in the West,” declared Kansas artist Birger Sandzen, “a painter could develop a style of his own to fit the country.”

A Grand Adventure brings together 50 significant classic and traditional artworks from 20 private collections. The artworks span nearly one hundred years dating from the latter half of the nineteenth century through the early decades of the twentieth century. Landscape and genre paintings of the American west by Bierstadt, Moran, Russell, Remington and Henry F. Farney are featured with artworks from the Taos Society of Artists, Santa Fe Art Colony, and California Impressionists including E.I. Couse, Walter Ufer, Edgar Payne, Carl Oscar Borg, Guy Rose, Granville Redmond, and Maynard Dixon among others.

This exhibition is organized by Palm Springs Art Museum and funded by Presenting Sponsors Carol and Jim Egan, the museum’s Western Art Council and its Gold Sponsors Diane and Sam Stewart and Silver Sponsors Jean C. Carrus, Mrs. Lawrence (Mary) Cone, Leonard Goldberg, Elaine Hill and John Schoettler, Al and Carol-Ann Olson, and Maureen and Philip Ramer. Additional support provided by Steven Stern and Marcel Vinh and Daniel Hansman.

Exhibition Season Sponsors: Dorothy and Harold J. Meyerman and Arlene Schnitzer