Tennessee State Museum

Nashville, TN

615-741-2692 or toll-free at 800-407-4324


The West in American Art


An exhibit of paintings inspired by the Western landscape and the lifestyle of the Wild West will be on display at the Tennessee Stare Museum July 9, 1999 through September 26, 1999. Titled The West in American Art, the exhibit will feature over 50 paintings from the Bill and Dorothy Harmsen Collection of Western Americana, courtesy of the Colorado Historical Society.

The exhibit is a seldom-seen private collection of paintings depicting the American frontier. "It showcases the raw beauty of the American West landscape, its indigenous inhabitants, and the pioneers which moved there," according to Lois Riggins-Ezzell, Executive Director of the State Museum.

This theme of the frontier is one that focuses on a central force in American history, according to Riggins-Ezzell. "The West, be it Tennessee or California, is the idea of a limitless space to claim, settle, and to develop an individual's possibilities from within. The frontier was the possibility of freedom, achievement and fulfillment," she explained.

A variety of American artists and painting styles will be featured in the exhibit, which chronicles the different ways the West was captured on canvas from the period of westward expansion in the mid-nineteenth century up through the beginning of World War II. The exhibit will include paintings by both Albert Bierstadt andThomas Moran, who formed the first important Western group of painters, "The Rocky Mountain School." Also included in the show are paintings by several members of the Taos Society of Artists, which was a western artists' colony that thrived from the beginning of the twentieth century until World War II.

Images from top to bottom (click on thumbnail images to enlarge them): Frederick Weygold, Ciji Wanjila, c. 1910; Jozef Bakos, Cottonwood Fall, n.d.; Carlos Vierra, In the Land of the Cliff Dwellers, n.d.; Charles Lanman, Campfire on the Ledge, c. 1830


Read more about the Tennessee State Museum in Resource Library Magazine

For further biographical information on selected artists cited in this article please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

rev. 10/18/10

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