The illusion of far west in Thyssen Museum Madrid
Nov 11, 2015
Sitting Bull, Billy the Kid, dusty plains with herds of buffalo, wild horses scanning the horizon and the paradisiac waterfalls... The exhibition "Illusion of the Far West" is a myth and a romantic enthusiasm, and a topical and colonizing argument, too but it presses the appropriate key to leave us, once again, shocked because of its landscapes, the dignity of the wild Indians, their communion with the most exuberant nature, its connection with all powerful gods... and with how those all discoveries of the painters and artists of the nineteenth century ended up going through the filter of the market and cinema, transforming those "noble savages" into a parody of misery, in the story of a disappearance announced.
The exhibition, curated by the artist Miguel Angel Blanco, brings together more than 200 pieces including paintings, photographs, prints, books, comics, movie posters, ethnographic pieces ... and so resembles a curio cabinet that blends art pieces and objects, "treasures" of that nature (precious stones, weapons, fossils, turtle shells, ...). As Guillermo Solana, director of the museum, has explained "it is a time when museums are too predictable, we have wanted to go up to that time when there was no division between art and nature, and where fantasy and reality go hand by hand. A moment in which the Indian territory had already been occupied and most of its inhabitants exterminated with their cultural traditions ".
Early Spanish explorers during the sixteenth century, the first contact with native tribes, landscapes and photographs of artists of the nineteenth and Thomas Hill, Henry Lewis, Albert Bierstadt, Carleton E. Watkins, they marked an exciting episode in the history Art, being the eyes that saw the exoticism and grandeur of the new conquered lands and its inhabitants for the first time. Another part of the exhibition is dedicated to the Indian chiefs, with their headdresses, body-painting and their objects of power. For the first time in Spain we can see the famous portraits by George Catlin and Karl Bodmer, Sitting Bull, Geronimo and Joseph - they offered themselves to record their image and power. Edward S. Curtis was the author of the photographic series The American Indian, a controversial and valuable artistic and ethnographic legacy, today largely lost, from which they have been selected multiple images. Curtis portrayed Indian Chiefs when they went to the capital to try to keep the rights of their peoples.
Finally, the curator of the exhibition, has presented a set of book-boxes from his Forest Library made with materials from the territories of the American West. Until 7 February at the Thyssen Museum in Madrid we can stroll through the political, military and strategic US history, and take a tour of building his own legend as a nation. The rest of the world have drunkthis legend in cinemascope format and posters of Comanche, The Return of a Man Called Horse...
Among the parallel activities to the exhibition there is a visit called "Death had a price," this Saturday November 14 at the Meadow of Navalvillar de Colmenar Viejo, location of important westerns as "The Good, the Bad and bad "with Clint Eastwood," The last adventure of General Custer "with Robert Shaw," Three outlaws and a gunman "with Lee Marvin and" Django "with Franco Nero. This activity is aimed at students and graduates in Fine Arts, History Art, Museology, Philosophy, Communication Sciences, interdisciplinary practices and working artists.