Must-See Museum Shows | The Western: An Epic in Art and Film

Denver Art Museum, May 21-September 10

Frederic Remington, The Emigrants, oil, 60 x 96.

Frederic Remington, The Emigrants, oil, 60 x 96.

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

In an effort to examine the Western—that iconic film and literary genre—in a holistic way, the Denver Art Museum explores the visual legacy and development of the West through fine art, film, prose, and pop culture in a major new exhibition. Co-curated by Thomas Brent Smith, The Western: An Epic in Art and Film is far more than merely a showcase of cowboys, bandits, and American Indians.

Smith, the curator of western American art and director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, says there seems to be part of this genre that everyone can identify with—especially since Western films construct such vivid expectations of the era. “It’s a show that defies demographics,” he says. “I think people will learn that there’s a much deeper and more complex story to the development of the West than they currently have in their minds.”

With artworks ranging from the mid-1800s to today, the exhibition surveys the dialogue between paintings, sculpture, and film in chronological order. Large-scale paintings, multiple film- viewing areas, photography, prose, and ephemera also aid in telling the history of the era.

Broken into eight chapters, the narrative starts the moment after the Civil War with painting and sculpture, and moves through history to examine films like director John Ford’s epic stories and Sergio Leone’s heroic Spaghetti Westerns. A focus on contemporary art from the 1980s to today concludes the exhibition. — Katie Askew

This story was featured in the January 2017 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art  January 2017 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story.

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