The Great American West

The Great American West with the Booth Western Art Museum

January 14 – March 25, 2017

Bucking broncos and dazzling desserts that flood hot, glowing horizons, Indians decorated in paint and feathers, rebellious characters, luring canyons and chapped cowboys wheeling their smoking guns: these are the tales of The Great American West.  This thrilling exhibition is made possible through the Booth Western Art Museum, featuring works on loan from their permanent collection.  The BWAM is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, located in downtown Cartersville, Georgia.  Opened in August of 2003, the BWAM houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western art in the country, featuring contemporary Western American art, historic Western art, Civil War art, Presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters and Western illustrations.  The MCMA is honored to feature their collection as a sample of the Western landscape, culture and history through the fine art of painting and sculpture.

  • Captures the spirit of the American west (1800s-present day)—Booth showcases more than 175 years of Western history and culture
  • Historical background of western art
    • Manifest destiny—way for immigrants to live up to the American Dream; settlers were destined to settle/expand across North America
      • Expansion occurred after the Louisiana Purchase of 1803 (2x size of the USA)—Jefferson set the stage for expansion that would last from 1812 to 1860
      • FOCUS of the art is on the westward expansion of America, the beginnings of the West—“as explorers and Indians pushed West, so did artists”
      • Artistic inspiration drawn from the Western landscape—“vision influenced the Eastern perceptions of the West”
        • Defied stereotypes over time due to this exploration of Western land; separation btw noble figures (cowboy) vs. uncivilized warriors (Indians)—over time those perceptions changed as artists continued painting them and understanding their perspectives
          • Concept of Indian removal—idea during M.D. that the Native Americans would be better off if they moved away from whites  
        • Homestead Act of 1862=free land to 600,000 families if they lived and worked on it
      • Cowboys and Indians in cinema = romantic portrayals
        • Culture of the early cowboy—“blend of frontier and Victorian values that even retained vestiges of chivalry”
          • Worked alone—showed they were independent and individualistic
          • Rugged personality stems from all-male environment
        • Creation of Wild West shows (19th and 20th centuries) and movies about cowboys and indians brought about negative and positive stereotypes
          • Patriotic, honorable/true to the land they live and work in             
        • BWAM promotes both the traditions and cultures of the cowboy and Indian