by Contributor

(Sep. 25, 2020) — The Wild West was an era of Western American art that didn’t come to the surface until the very early stage of the twentieth century. You must think it means—boots and half-sleeved vests and sawdust lying around the floors of bars, but it was more than that.

The focal subjects of this type of art were cowboys and the Indians of West America, focusing on the domestic life of this group. This art was influenced by the social, political, and economical scenario prevalent at this time which ignited artists to take this up.

Many artists often portrayed the Wild West with cowboys riding on horses over pastoral lands alongside deeply embedded metaphors of the plight of these people. So, let’s dive into this era of art and explore the artists who took inspiration from it to create masterpieces.

The Cowboy by Frederic Remington


This rough painting by Frederic Remington is considered a classic in pushing the cowboy narrative in tropical cinema. Remington portrays the cowboy riding away over rugged terrain in the sway of movement, painting a visual representation of riding.

This painting was Remington’s way of entering into America’s conscience. The rugged terrain is accurately depicted in a mix of earthy and muddy hues, crafted with an angle that makes it look like the rider is almost about to fall on this slanting slope. The cowboy hat adds on to the whole effect of being in the Wild West even though this is only a popularized narrative of the domestic life of these people.

Texas Cowboy by Stanley L Wood


It’s often said by many art critics –“Mo better a horse artist than Stanley L Wood.” Stanley is known for his dramatic interpretations of horses running ferociously and with full vigor, portraying them as fast animals of the land, is a significant symbol of the West.

This painting is a typical pictorial depiction of how the world saw the Wild West as well as how cowboys were seen as. He was successful in capturing the nuances of the land with vibrant colors and with an artistic hand that made it look like it was in motion.

The Fall of The Cowboy By Frederic Remington


Frederic Remington was a master artist who heavily used irony in his paintings as he depicted the life of the Wild West with how the Northerners saw it. The layer of snow over the ground speaks of the icy cold treatment meted out to the people of the West.

This painting was a testament to the tough life including many trials and tribulations of the people of the West.

The figures in the painting have to come off from their horse to cross the fence wire which denotes the intensive demarcation of land prevalent in Western American at the time. This is a socially loaded painting, radically and hinting at the stark difference between the West and the modernizing nation itself. Moreover, Frederic specifically painted the West in a typical light with the intent to strongly critique on this worldview of them.

The Attack by Charles Marion


The blazing Wild West was popularized for its ferocious whims and way by cinema and print in the oddest way possible. Unknown to the truth, Charles was strangely fascinated with the West and saw their people as particularly brave, fantasizing them and looking up to them. The West was seen as this uncouth space by the foreigners which shouldn’t be meddled with and that piqued the interest of the artist.

When he grew up, all of this former glory he used to dream about was gone which is why he reproduced a vivid mental image of his, portraying the typical notion of the West. He did this with a fighting scene and many people riding on horses, all painted in anguished, flushed faces, running on uneven terrain. The rigor with which the riders are combating is clearly visible here as a repercussion of the artist’s magical hand.

Indians on Horseback


This particular depiction by Auguste Macke is intensely graphic, made with geometrical shapes. These infusions give the onlooker a medieval feel that is absolutely unmissable. This medieval look is further shouldered by loosely constructed huts and the figures barely wearing any clothes which attach tribal connotations to them.

The borrowing from the Native American culture is especially evident here. The customary spear of the Indians is unmissable here along with their clothes exclusive to their culture is at display here. This palette of colors here is utterly vivid making it aesthetically appealing and the stark representation of the Indians is brought out beautifully.

The Bottom Line

The Wild West has had a gazillion interpretations of its domestic life and its struggles but it was often not portrayed in mainstream media. The world saw them as uncouth cowboys riding on horses over uneven terrains and making merry. The masterpieces of these artists showed the actual narrative and told the tale of the Wild West with honesty and sheer artistic beauty which you can admire here https://www.1st-art-gallery.com/Wild-West.html

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