Research: Luce Center for American Art

The American West

The American frontier, constantly shifting westward in the nineteenth century, was interpreted by artists in many different ways. These range from topographical records of actual sites to Romantic fantasy. The dramatic mountain ranges and vast spaces of the western portion of the continent provided artists like Albert Bierstadt with spectacular subjects for panoramic works created to thrill urban audiences with monumental images of the wilderness sublime (76.79).

Frontier types have always appealed strongly to the popular imagination. Pioneers, hunters, trappers, and farmers populate many paintings and form the subjects of many sculptures. Their depiction may be relatively mundane as in George Caleb Bingham’s Shooting for the Beef (40.342) or Romantically daring as in Charles Deas’s Prairie on Fire (48.195). Images of Native Americans, like those of other frontier types, were often co-opted to play certain roles—those of the “noble savage” and the exotic “other”—in paintings and bronzes created for non-native audiences by artists working in European visual traditions.

In the twentieth century, Georgia O’Keeffe’s modernist vision of desert spaces focused on indigenous objects to evoke a strong, even spiritual, sense of place (1992.11.28). The lure of western space continues today.

15 objects are included in this theme.
15.512 Adolph Alexander Weinman
Chief Blackbird, the Ogalla Sioux, modeled 1903, cast 1907

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18.189 Olin Levi Warner
Joseph Hin-Mah-Too-Yah-Lat-Kekht, Chief of the Nez Percé Indians, 1889

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26.149 Harry C. Edwards
Handsome Morning -- A Dakota, 1921

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32.1602 Edwin Willard Deming
Buffalo, 1908

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40.208 Crystal Glass Company
Platter (Alaskan scene), 1867

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40.210 American
Platter (Train with Engine #350), ca. 1885

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40.271 American
Plate (Native American Chief), late 19th century

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40.342 George Caleb Bingham
Shooting for the Beef, 1850

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47.196 Albert Bierstadt
Mt. Baker, Washington, From the Frazier River, 1890

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48.195 Charles Deas
Prairie on Fire, 1847

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76.79 Albert Bierstadt
A Storm in the Rocky Mountains, Mt. Rosalie, 1866

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84.176.4 Grace Young
Vase, Chief Shavehead, ca. 1899

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87.180 Gorham Manufacturing Company
Compote, ca. 1868

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1992.11.28 Georgia O'Keeffe
Ram's Head, White Hollyhock-Hills (Ram's Head and White Hollyhock, New Mexico), 1935

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1994.162.1a-b James Gillinder & Sons
Covered Standing Dish, Westward Ho Pattern, ca. 1880

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