The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings & Sculpture” opened Feb. 6 and runs through May 2, 2010 at Gilcrease Museum. The exhibition is the first major retrospective of the artist’s work and showcases more than 100 of the artist’s finest paintings and bronze sculptures, as well as a number of the artist’s personal effects rarely seen by the general public.
This exhibition at Gilcrease Museum, 1400 N. Gilcrease Museum Rd., is the largest display of Russell’s art, artifacts and archives ever assembled. For the first time, Russell’s signature masterpieces have been brought together in a single offering, organized from the holdings of some of the world’s greatest collections of American Western art. The exhibition includes works from the Amon Carter Museum, the Montana Historical Society, Denver Art Museum, the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, and Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
The exhibition also will showcase the first public viewing of materials from the Russell Research Collection, including paints, palettes, photographs, personal letters, spurs, hats and the famous artist’s ivory-handled Colt six gun. These items have been added to the exhibition from The University of Tulsa’s recently acquired Russell Research Collection.
Russell (1864-1926) remains one of the most significant American artists of the early 20th century. During his lifetime, he completed more than 4,000 paintings and sculptures, many of which have become fundamental cultural icons. His depictions of cowboys, American Indians, historical figures and Western fauna are among the most well-known portrayals of the late 19th and early 20th century Western experience. His work has long been considered unique in its approach to complex subjects and is widely recognized for its authenticity and attention to detail. Above all, Russell excelled at engaging the viewer with vibrant, exciting and captivating scenes of Western life.
An exhibition catalogue, “The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture,” is available for purchase in the Gilcrease Museum Store. The elaborately illustrated book was published by the University of Oklahoma Press, edited by Joan Carpenter Troccoli, and includes a foreword by Denver Art Museum Director Lewis Sharp and Gilcrease Museum Executive Director Duane H. King. The 270-page catalog also includes a series of critical essays by leading Russell scholars including Peter Hassrick, James P. Ronda and Anne Morand.
“The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell” is organized collaboratively by the Denver Art Museum and Gilcrease Museum. Exhibition sponsors are The C.W. Titus Foundation and the Sherman E. Smith Family Foundation. Significant support is provided by the Helen K. and Arthur E. Johnson Foundation. Additional support is provided by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas A. Petrie, and Fine Arts Foundation.
Opening concurrently with the Russell show is “The West of Olaf Seltzer.” Befriended and mentored by Russell, Seltzer created a large body of work that resulted in a valuable record of life in the old West.
In the final decade of the 19th century, a young Danish immigrant arrived in the booming town of Great Falls, Montana. Olaf C. Seltzer (1877-1957) worked as a ranch hand for a year or so as a teenager. For more than 25 years Seltzer was a machinist for the Great Northern Railroad. His interests in drawing, natural history and science would merge in time, coming together in a complex artist/historian who was a machinist by trade and necessity, but an artist at heart. Seltzer’s dream of being an artist became more of a possibility when, at age 19, he met Charles M. Russell. Until well into his 40s, Seltzer was both machinist and artist. But in 1921, at age 44, he finally became a full time artist and painted until his death in 1957.
The exhibition, “The West of Olaf Seltzer” explores Seltzer’s life and work and includes more than 180 oils, watercolors, and illustrated letters from the Gilcrease collection.
Several series of works produced by Seltzer for his patron Dr. Philip Cole are represented: “Western Characters,” a group of watercolors that characterize the diverse ethnicity and occupations of the people who settled the West; “Montana in Miniature,” a collection of tiny oils representing the history of Montana; and the “Early Western Travelogue,” a group of oils illustrating the early modes of transportation in the West.
Seltzer approached his work with an eye for detail. Though he did not live through much of the history he painted, his methodical research and attention to the meticulous fine points of clothing and accoutrements resulted in a valuable historical record of life in the old West. His paintings reveal a linear style, the strong draftsmanship that Russell himself admired, and the authenticity of a consummate historian. The documentary paintings of Seltzer remain a significant contribution to Western art.
“The West of Olaf Seltzer” is sponsored by the Adelson Family. The exhibition runs through Aug. 29, 2010.
About Gilcrease Museum
Gilcrease Museum is one of the country’s best facilities for the preservation and study of American art and history. The museum houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West, including an unparalleled collection of Native American art and artifacts, as well as thousands of historical documents, maps and manuscripts. Gilcrease museum’s charm, beauty and art collections draw thousands of visitors from around the world to the Osage Hills just northwest of downtown Tulsa for a glimpse into America’s past.
Contact (918) 596-2768 for more information.