The Western Sublime: Majestic Landscapes of the American West
Building upon a philosophical idea that first arose in the 1600s known as the “sublime,” The Western Sublime: Majestic Landscapes of the American West at the Tucson Museum of Art examines the ways in which artists interpret, reinvent, challenge and transform the ideal of the sublime landscape in both the Old and New West. The exhibition, on view from October 29 through February 9, 2020, features a variety of art from the mid-1800s to now—including paintings, photography, sculpture, prints, basketry, textiles and poetry. By juxtaposing contemporary and historic works, the sublime is presented through a broader lens, consequently opening the dialogue for new conversations about a traditional idea.
“The decision to put the historical and contemporary works together was to really present these different conversations that can be had through two periods of art that are depicting essentially the same things in different ways,” explains Christine Brindza, the museum’s Senior Curator and Glasser Curator of Art of the American West. “It’s these different personalized ideas of the sublime that really make the exhibition interesting because it’s not just one definition.”
Among the selection of historic art in Western Sublime are several works by Albert Bierdstadt (1830-1902) and Thomas Moran (1837-1926) that depict breathtaking landscapes that embody the original, awe-inspiring concept of the sublime.
Moran’s 1879 oil on canvas The Mirage, for example, shows the sweeping, romantic scenery and vibrant hues of the Green River Valley in Wyoming.
Thomas Moran (1837-1926), The Mirage, 1879, oil on canvas, 25⅛ x 62⅜”. Purchase of the Nelda C. and H.J. Lutcher Stark Foundation, 1977. Stark Museum of Art, Orange, Texas, 31.18.15. Photography by Tom Dubrock.
Thomas Moran (1837-1926), Passing Storm, Grand Canyon, oil on canvas, 25 x 19½”. Desert Caballeros Western Museum Collection, Wickenburg, Arizona, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Aiken Fisher; photo © Terrence Moore.