Denver Art Museum Announces Exhibition Chronicling The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925

First exhibition to explore the relationship between sculptors and the American West

The Denver Art Museum (DAM) will host the exhibition The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925, May 11–August 31, 2014. At the turn of the 20th century, artistic representations of American Indians, cowboys and cavalry, pioneers and prospectors, and animals of the plains and the mountains served as visual metaphors for the Old West. Through seventy-two bronze sculptures by twenty-eight artists, The American West in Bronze explores the aesthetic and cultural impulses behind the creation of statuettes with American western themes popular with audiences then and now.

Frederic Remington was already well known as an illustrator and painter when he turned his hand to sculpting in the mid-1890s. His first effort, The Broncho Buster (1895), became one of the most popular American bronzes. But The Cheyenne (1901), with its extraordinary action and unconventional treatment of equestrian subject matter, may be the finest bronze he ever produced. Remington long admired the Cheyenne people and frequently featured them in his art. This Indian subject he portrayed “burning the air,” as he said, in the midst of battle. For more information about this artwork, including lesson plans for teachers and their students, visit the DAM Creativity Resource website. Frederic Remington American, 1861–1909 The Cheyenne 1903 Bronze Funds from the William D. Hewit Charitable Annuity Trust, 1981.14
“The allure of the American West is undeniable,” said Christoph Heinrich, Frederick and Jan Mayer Director of the Denver Art Museum. “In the last three years alone, thanks to the endowment of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art and the donation of the Roath Collection, the Denver Art Museum has risen to the position of an international leader in the field of western American art. We are proud to partner with The Metropolitan Museum of Art to illuminate this fascinating time period.”

From elegiac portrayals of dignified Indians to rough-and-tumble scenes of rowdy cowboys and tributes to the stalwart pioneers who settled the lands west of the Mississippi, The American West in Bronze explores themes of the American West brought to life in enduringly popular sculptures.

“The western bronze statuette was eagerly collected by the urban populace at the turn of the 20th century,” said Thomas Smith, director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the DAM and co-curator of the exhibition. “Remarkably, there has never been a full-scale exhibition on this rich and complex topic. A century later, no segment of American sculpture remains more appreciated by the public.”

The artists featured in the exhibition range from those internationally recognized for their work in bronze such as Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell to artists who infrequently pursued western subjects such as Frederick William MacMonnies and Paul Manship. Many were rigorously trained in New York and Paris and used sophisticated techniques to produce bronzes that were celebrated at home and abroad as authentically American.

The American West in Bronze will be on view at the Denver Art Museum May 11–August 31, 2014 in the Gallagher Family Gallery on level one of the Hamilton Building and is included in general museum admission. An exhibition catalog, co-edited by co-curators Thomas Smith and Thayer Tolles, will be available in The Shop at the Denver Art Museum.

Hermon Atkins MacNeil (1866-1947), The Moqui Prayer for Rain, 1895-96 (cast about 1897). Bronze; 22-1/4 x 11 x 25-1/4 in. Daniel and Mathew Wolf in memory of Diane R. Wolf.


  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art: December 18, 2013–April 13, 2014
  • Denver Art Museum: May 11–August 31, 2014
  • Nanjing Museum, Nanjing, China: September 29, 2014–January 18, 2015

Exhibition Credit Line

The American West in Bronze, 1850-1925 is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, in collaboration with the Denver Art Museum. It is funded by Henry Luce Foundation and Terra Foundation for American Art. Local support is provided by The Americana Foundation, the generous donors to the Annual Fund Leadership Campaign and the citizens who support the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD). Promotional support is provided by 5280 Magazine, CBS4 and The Denver Post.