Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Art & Culture: Elevating Western American Art: Developing an Institute in the Cultural Capital of the Rockies edited by Thomas Brent Smith

There was a time not so very long ago that the art of the American West was not given serious shrift by the fine art mainstream. That was then. But if you are unconvinced of the breadth and quality of the work that continues to emerge from the West, Elevating Western American Art (Denver Art Museum) is quite likely to change your mind.

The publication commemorates the 10th anniversary of the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art. The book includes 30 essays by art historians from across North America as well as a deep and searing look at the collection itself.

And it’s a terrific collection. From historic works of the type we tend to associate with art of the American west -- Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Charles Deas and the like -- to some really astonishing contemporary work, the book showcases the museum’s mission to “recognize and promote the significance of the West in the larger picture of American cultural development.”  One can’t read Elevating Western American Art without thinking that, at least on certain levels, they have achieved their goal. ◊

David Middleton is art & culture editor of January Magazine.



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