Published: October 1, 2002
CHESTNUT HILL, MASS. – The McMullen Museum of Art at Boston College will host an exclusive exhibition this fall, “,” October 6 through December 8.
The exhibition — which comprises 38 works of art, including paintings and sculptures — showcases classic and contemporary works from the American West, and includes works from the private collection of McMullen Museum of Art benefactor John J. McMullen, many of which have never before been on public display.
To commemorate the opening, the museum will host a preview and lecture, open to the public, free of charge, on Sunday, October 6, from 1 to pm. A lecture, titled “Expanding the Visual Frontier: Art and Artists in the American West 1830-2002,” will be given at 2 pm in Devlin Hall by exhibition organizer Heather Fryer.
The American West has had an enormous influence on the course of American history, mythology and popular culture. This exhibition brings together Western images from both the genres of Western realism and Western modernism, to present a full and complex picture of the American West.
The magnificence of the Western landscape and the young American who took risks to settle there — spurred by high ideals of freedom and progress — drew artists to document Westward expansion. Such early artists as Frederic Remington, Karl Bodmer and Charles Russell believed their paintings of cowboys, Indians and landscape would serve as an objective historical record.
Known as the “Western Realists,” their followers — who adopt the palette, subject matter and rigorously literal styles of the early Western artists — carry on their mission and generate images of the Old West. They draw from years of study of Western artifacts, history, and in many cases their histories as cowboys, ranchers and rodeo riders, to lend authenticity to scenes.
Section one features paintings and sculptures from the collection of John J. McMullen, including works by several members of the Cowboy Artists of America. They feature Western landscapes, scenes of cowboys, trappers, and gunfighters in action, and Indian portraits and scenes of Indian life rendered according to the artists’ purportedly objective views.
Section two presents a changed Western landscape, bearing layers of social and environmental history, on which numerous social meanings have been inscribed. These artists consider the influence on federal ownership and management of federal land, Mexican and Indians’ historical claims to Western land, and the tension between Western land as landscape versus environment.
Section three presents new images of cowboys, which investigate the mythology that has developed around this group of workers. Women and Hispanic artists put themselves in the cowboy narrative, while other artists reflect on the degree to which popular images such as the “Marlboro man” have obscured important realities of Western life.
Section four features works by Native American artists who seek to include their version of the history of Indian wars and Western settlement, and to articulate the complexities of living within two postmodern cultures, and of claiming an American identity after having been geographically and socially isolated for decades.
Admission to the McMullen Museum is free and it is on the Chestnut Hill campus of Boston College, 140 Commonwealth Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5 pm. Call the Arts Line at 617-552-8100, or visit the website at www.bc.edu/artmuseum.
5 Church Hill Road / Newtown, CT 06470
Mon - Fri / 8:00 am - 5:01 pm