Press Release: July 9, 2015

The Autry Presents New Acquisitions Featuring the Kaufman Collection August 8, 2015–July 9, 2017

Exhibition highlights recent additions to the Autry's art collections and the stories that surround them Media Preview: Friday, August 7, 2015, 10:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. RSVP to communications@theautry.org or 323.495.4370

Los Angeles, CA (July 9, 2015)—Every work of art has a story to tell. Inspired by the gift of 49 paintings and sculptures from the collection of Loretta and Victor Kaufman, this exhibition highlights recent additions to the Autry National Center of the American West’s growing art collections. The powerful selection of pieces represents diverse peoples and perspectives, including bronzes by Frederic Remington, Allan Houser, and Tammy Garcia; paintings by Rick Bartow and Eanger Irving Couse; lithographs by Fritz Scholder; watercolors by David Einstein; and other artworks that reveal a set of dynamic visions of the American West.

“Together, these works present a nuanced vision of the West as a place often caught between different ideas of ‘old’ and ‘new,’ of an imagined world that exists in the past and a contemporary place informed by multiple voices,” said Amy Scott, the Autry’s Chief Curator and Marilyn B. and Calvin B. Gross Curator of Visual Arts.

On view at the Autry from August 8, 2015, through July 9, 2017, New Acquisitions Featuring the Kaufman Collection presents nearly 60 paintings, sculptures, and works on paper. Organized thematically in the Norman F. Sprague, Jr. Gallery, the artworks are set alongside quotes that describe aspects of experience and identity in the West. These words support, challenge, or complicate the artworks, creating a dialogue that reminds us that a work of art—like any form of representation—does not always tell the whole story.

“Much like the Autry collection as a whole, this exhibition includes many perspectives, particularly with regard to how artists throughout history have romanticized and stereotyped Native peoples—and how contemporary Native artists are using art to regain control of their image,” explains W. Richard West, Jr., the Autry’s President and CEO. “In this way, the exhibition is far more than a display of exquisite art; rather, it takes a deep dive into the social, cultural, and political realities of this complicated region.”

THE ULTIMATE ICON

“With me, cowboys are what gems and porcelain are to some others.”

—Frederic Remington, Harper’s Monthly, 1875

The first section of the exhibition, The Ultimate Icon, is dedicated to the Western archetype, the cowboy. Artworks and quotes contrast nostalgia developed in the late nineteenth century—embodied in the rugged white individualist—with the not-so-glamorous reality of diverse working cattlemen. The excitement of Frederic Remington’s turn-of-the-century bronze, Rattlesnake, is matched in recent sculptures by Harry Jackson and Herb Mignery. Doug Owen’s life-size horse made from car parts offers a more ironic point of view. Paintings by Bill Owen, Bill Anton, and others portray the lives of today’s cowboys, whereas others depict rodeo riders: the icon made contemporary.

OURSELVES AND OTHERS

“What you have is people that came over and took over and they were unable to understand Indian thinking . . . yet later they became very intrigued with the so called ‘noble savage’. . .”

—Fritz Scholder, 1975

Ourselves and Others consists of a diverse range of works depicting Native peoples by artists from both within and without the culture. Nineteenth-century lithographs by George Catlin, among some of the first images of Indians viewed by white Americans, are seen as precursors to the romanticized realism of twentieth-century painters such as Roy Anderson. Bronzes by Harry Jackson, such as Sacagawea II (1980), stand in marked contrast to Andrea (2014), a monumental sculpture by Tammy Garcia (Santa Clara Pueblo), and The Guardian (2004) by Arlo Namingha (Tewa/Hopi). Sioux Chief (1979) by Fritz Scholder (Luiseño) navigates the terrain between Native imagery and mainstream modernism, while Harry Fonseca (Maidu) and Tony Abeyta (Navajo) paint in abstract styles that combine traditional and contemporary sources. Modern interpretations of tradition are seen also in a mask by Preston Singletary (Tlingit), a ceramic by Deborah Clashin (Hopi), and a basket by Jeremy Frey (Passamaquoddy).

PEOPLE AND PLACE

“Always, for the most casual visitor, there is the appeal of strangeness; the dark people, the alien dress, the earthen walls . . . Everywhere peace, impenetrable timelessness of peace.”

—Ansel Adams and Mary Austin, Taos Pueblo, 1938

The final section, People and Place, presents paintings inspired by the sense of place embraced in art across the Southwest. In the early twentieth century, Modernist artists were drawn to the Taos Pueblo, where they found an “authentic” American culture untainted by materialism. Indian life as inherently tied to the land was a major theme of Taos Society of Artists members Eanger Irving Couse, Oscar Berninghaus, and Joseph Henry Sharp; several major examples of their work are included. Famed Ashcan School realist Robert Henri also spent time in New Mexico, as represented here with the fine portrait Gregorita (1917). Contemporary artists continue to be moved by the Southwest light and landscape. David Einstein’s nearly abstract watercolors evoke desert landscapes and ocean light, whereas A River Runs Through It (2011) by Billy Schenck offers a composite view of iconic Western places. Together, these works emphasize the role of perception in creating an experience of place—a concept that plays a powerful role in the depictions of the West throughout history.

PREVIEW

Members of the media are invited to preview the exhibition during the Autry Members’ First Look on Friday, August 7, from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. To RSVP, e-mail communications@theautry.org or call 323.495.4370.

IMAGES AVAILABLE UPON REQUEST

About the Autry National Center of the American West

The Autry is a museum dedicated to exploring and sharing the stories, experiences, and perceptions of the diverse peoples of the American West, connecting the past to the present to inspire our shared future. The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs—including lectures, film, theatre, festivals, family events, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. The Autry’s collection of more than 500,000 pieces of art and artifacts includes the Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, one of the largest and most significant of Native American materials in the United States.

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