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The American West: People, Places, and Ideas…
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The American West: People, Places, and Ideas

by Suzan Campbell

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The catalog’s primary author, Campbell, an art historian and curator based in New Mexico, tackles the core questions of “What is the American West?” and “What is western art?” in her exhaustively researched essay. She traces artistic activity in the West to the years immediately following the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803, when artists, drawn to the newly opened area west of the Mississippi, began documenting the distinctive landscape for those who could not make the trip. She organizes the museum’s [refers to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art of Corning, New York] holdings according to themes indigenous to the West, including wilderness, the buffalo, horses, American Indians, cowboys, and the lure of the emerging Southwest. These themes are emphasized by the juxtaposition of works with similar subject matter, from different time periods and in different media, such as the eye-catching horse sculptures created a century apart, one almost life-like, the other an impressionistic shell of the animal.
 
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