Denver, CO, through December 2
This story was featured in the September 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine. Order the Southwest Art magazine September 2012 print edition here, or purchase the Southwest Art magazine September 2012 digital download here. Or simply click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
Theodore Waddell was born and raised in Montana, but in the early 1960s—a decade after the abstract expressionists had made their mark on the art world—he traveled to New York City to study at the Brooklyn Museum Art School. After little more than a year studying abstract techniques and theory, he found himself homesick and returned to Montana, eventually taking work as a cattle rancher and painting the subject matter of his livelihood. His highly recognizable works have garnered considerable acclaim over the years. Through December 2, the Denver Art Museum displays a collection of the artist’s works spanning 30 years and focusing specifically on his paintings of the Angus breed against flattened backgrounds.
Comprising the exhibit entitled Theodore Waddell’s Abstract Angus are 27 paintings, sketches, lithographs, and etchings of the black bovines dotting abstracted landscapes, generally denoting Montana’s vast, uninterrupted hills and plains. “Theodore Waddell has successfully coupled fundamentals of the abstract expressionist movement with real subjects,” says Denver Art Museum curator Thomas Smith.
The collection, which hangs in the Gates Family Gallery on level two of the Hamilton building, poses the visual question, “When does the spot stop being a cow and become just a spot?” Museum representative Tara Moberly says that, though the paintings are inspired by specific places, their abstracted forms make them general enough to be more universal, to be anywhere. “Living in Colorado, we see these landscapes all the time,” she says. “We look at [these paintings] and say, ‘Wow. I just drove by that this morning.’”
The works range in size from 15-by-15-inch etchings to 5-foot-by-6-foot oil paintings, but the largest piece is a collection of four panels that create a larger-than-life, 26-foot-long mural entitled MONIDA ANGUS #15. Because you can’t really see the beginning or end of it depending on your viewpoint, it effectively places you into the scene.
In the field of western art, Waddell brings a surprisingly modern, contemporary twist to a genre defined by representational works. While in some cases the subject matter is unmistakably cows in fields, the works investigate just how far the artist can push dark shapes on a lighter background while still maintaining something accessible and definable. —Laura Rintala
Featured in the September 2012 issue of Southwest Art magazine–click below to purchase:
Southwest Art magazine September 2012 digital download
Southwest Art magazine September 2012 print edition
Or click here to subscribe to Southwest Art magazine and never miss a story!
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