Fine Arts | American Art of the West, 1800-1920 (Topics In Art History)
A200 | 22707 | Smith


Picturing the land and space west of the Mississippi River
as “the West” in the nineteenth century, predominately places it
within the history, myth, and experience of Anglo Americans.  To
Native Americans who had inhabited this region for centuries, the
plains, deserts, canyons and mountains were envisioned as the center
of their worlds.  Many Hispanic individuals who migrated from the
South referenced the terrain in today’s California and up around the
Rio Grande as “Azatlan” or “El Norte.”  The placement of this space
within an individual’s or culture’s imagination or reality certainly
affected the types of visual expressions and artistic movements that
developed here.
	The story of artistic production in the American West has
largely been that of the accomplishments of white men.  This course
will restore the voices and visions of women, Native Americans, and
Hispano Americans to the saga.  We will look at “the West” as a
fluid and indeterminate space, as well as focus on it as a site of
contestation as particularly manifested in the nineteenth century.
This period is a fascinating study of the shifting meanings of
gender, race, and power amidst the societies inhabiting or moving
into this region.  As the site of migration, settlement, and
displacement, it spawned many kinds of conflicts, transformations,
and artistic productions.
	Among the themes to be examined are Spanish Missions as the
architecture of conversion; the West as the Garden of Eden; George
Catlin and the depiction of the Vanishing Race; the shifts in Plains
Indians self-representation with the establishment of reservations;
the aesthetic exchanges between missionary women and Sioux women;
the role of popular prints during the Mexican War; Spanish Catholic
art and the formation of an independent New Mexican identity;
photography and westward expansionism; tourism and the consumption
of the West; exhibitions of the West; and the West as a symbol for
anti-modernists.