Dan Ostermiller’s work is usually given the label “animal sculpture”; however, within that field can be found a wide range subjects and interpretations. From the barnyard to the vast American Great Plains, and from the back porch to the Zambezi Valley, Ostermiller’s animals are studies in elegance and power. They are also depictions of their very essence—the lumbering strength of the grizzly, the feline grace of the cat, or the charming vulnerability of the lop-eared rabbit.
His thorough knowledge of animals, acquired from years of experience with his father, Roy Ostermiller, a renowned taxidermist, is the foundation for his work. Like James L. Clark and Carl Akeley, wildlife sculptors who began as taxidermists and curators for the American Museum of Natural History, Ostermiller has built upon this foundation by careful study of animal habits and instincts.
Drawing from his many travels abroad, he creates animal figures in context with their natural surroundings. In the tradition of the French nineteenth-century animaliers, Ostermiller’s work is true to the subject. Yet his work has a realism that is not only an accurate rendering of the subject but also a sophisticated composition of line and composition.
His thorough grounding in taxidermy lends authority to his designs. But the technique that evolved out of his knowledge of anatomy gives his work spontaneity, setting it outside the realm of mere duplication of an animal’s image. Infusing each design is personality—a combination of the sculptor’s and the subject’s. This spirit, the feeling the work imparts to the viewer, is the hallmark of an Ostermiller sculpture.
Ostermiller has been a catalyst for support and promotion of the arts in his hometown of Loveland, Colorado. He has been recognized by peers through election as fellow in the National Sculpture Society and the Society of Animal Artist and served as president of the National Sculpture Society from 2011 to 2014. At the Autry’s 2018 Masters of the American West, he won the Kenneth T. and Eileen L. Norris Foundation Award for Sculpture for his bronze titled Barren.
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