Only one more week to see the retrospective show of paintings, bronze sculptures and letters of American artist Charles M. Russell at the Denver Art Museum. The exhibition of over 60 important pieces was co-organized by the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art and Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Self Portrait, 1900. Watercolor on paper.
Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, Wyoming.
I’ve seen Russell’s work in numerous venues including private collections, Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming and the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana. The current show in Denver offers a perspective into Russell’s growth as an artist. I found it fascinating to examine a series of Buffalo Hunt oils painted over a span of 24 years – a graphic demonstration of Russell’s evolving experiences,technique, palette, and increased usage of accurate detail. I can almost taste the dust and feel the vibrations of thundering hoofs.
Buffalo Hunt [No. 39], 1919. Oil on canvas.
Amon Carter Museum, Fort Worth, Texas.
Russell was known for the illustrated letters he sent to friends and family. Ones included in the exhibit collect an interested audience. Russell’s creativity is demonstrated not just in the artwork but also his spelling, no doubt a result of his lack of formal education. Although he was from a well-to-do St. Louis family he had little interest in school and left home at age 16 to work on a Montana Territory sheep ranch and later as a cowhand. Russell’s works depicted his life, work and love of the American West – wildlife, landscapes, native life, trappers, cowboys, lawmen and outlaws.
Book cover Charles M. Russell, Word Painter
The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture is well worth the effort to make it to the Denver Art Museum in the next few days. After closing in Denver the exhibition will travel to the Gilcrease Museum, February 6 – May 2, 2010, and the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston, June 6 – August 29, 2010.
When You Go: The Denver Art Museum’s Russell exhibit runs through Sunday, January 10, 2010 and is included in the general museum admission fee. The Denver Art Museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, check their website for hours.