Palm Springs, CA
through December 29
This story was featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Get the Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download now–then subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss another story!
Painter George Catlin [1796-1872] was trained as a lawyer but gave up his practice in order to pursue a fine-art career. Eventually Catlin was elected to the prestigious Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art. But after the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1832, Catlin became a man on a singular mission: to use his art to ensure that the vanishing customs and culture of the Native Americans were not forgotten. Catlin was one of the first artists of European descent to travel up the Missouri River, following and painting the buffalo as well as the Indians who hunted them. In scientific detail, his artworks captured a landscape, a species, and a way of life that would be almost obliterated in less than a generation. His sketches and paintings are one of the first records of the Indian cultures west of the Mississippi River.
This month the Palm Springs Art Museum presents an exhibit of 40 paintings by Catlin dating from 1832 to 1848. The exhibit, titled George Catlin’s American Buffalo, includes 29 paintings depicting buffalo and their presence in all aspects of Native American life, as well as 11 full-length portraits of Plains Indians. Although Catlin painted many bust-length portraits, his full-length figures are much rarer. One of the highlights of the show is one such work, EE-AH-SA-PA, BLACK ROCK, A TWO KETTLE CHIEF. The Lakota Sioux portrayed in the painting was a respected chief. To emphasize his nobility and significance, Catlin represented Black Rock in a classic “regal pose,” a posture that the artist frequently used to emphasize important subjects.
In 2014 and 2015 the exhibit travels to the Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, FL, and the Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem, NC. George Catlin’s American Buffalo is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in collaboration with the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, WY. A book by the same title accompanies the exhibit. —Bonnie Gangelhoff
Featured in the November 2013 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art November 2013 print issue or digital download
Or subscribe to Southwest Art and never miss a story!
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