Impressions of the West: Works of Art from Special Collections
Is western art a truthful recording of a bygone era or an idealized version of history, or merely kitsch created for the popular market? Impressions of the West: Works of Art from Special Collections looks at how the West has been interpreted by both artists and popular culture and why it continues to capture our imagination even today.

As early as the beginning of the nineteenth century artists were concerned about establishing an American art form that was distinct from that of Europe. Artists of the time looked to the vast Western landscape for inspiration. Easterners also clamored for depictions of the still-as-yet-largely-unexplored lands and artists who ventured
West were seen as experts on the peoples and animals inhabiting the region. Artists became documenters of the vanishing peoples and cultures of the West. In 1893 Frederick Jackson Turner declared the West closed in his famous Frontier Thesis, yet the West continued to be a popular subject for both artist and consumer. Wild West shows rose in popularity and dime novels propagated the myth of the West. The popularity of the West reached its height in the mid-twentieth century and western art has remained highly popular into the present.

This exhibit was on view from August 2011-April 28, 2012.
Curator: Erin O'Malley
Design: Erin O'Malley
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