Many may be familiar with the skillfully precise wildlife artwork of James John Audubon, but the story of American wildlife art is a much broader one, influenced by-and influencing in turn-cultural events and aesthetic and ideological trends. In his book American Wildlife Art, author, scholar, and curator David J. Wagner tells the in-depth story through accounts of the artists, events, and developments at the heart of this uniquely American art form.
Wagner shares his insights in a presentation and book signing at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center Tuesday, September 14. The lecture, included in regular admission to the Center and free to members, takes place at noon in the Coe Auditorium. The Center's Museum Store hosts a book signing following the presentation.
"American Wildlife Art," published by Marquand Books, contains more than three hundred photographs, and examines American wildlife art over the past four centuries. Wagner explains how the aesthetic idioms and imagery of American wildlife art have evolved, how its ecological ideologies have changed with changing circumstances and ideas about animals and their habitats, and how artists and entrepreneurs developed and influenced the market for wildlife art.
Wagner opens with artists who first documented the flora and fauna of the New World, presenting Europeans with a view of the economic potential and the natural wonders of the then sparsely populated continent. He moves through the history of Audubon and Alexander Wilson, as well as Arthur Tait's collaboration with Currier & Ives that helped bring wildlife art to the masses. Wagner relates the art to conservation and wilderness preservation efforts, and concludes with portraits of contemporary wildlife artists.
Wagner is curator and tour director for the Society of Animal Artists and presents programs on wildlife art including painting, sculpture, and conservation at museums, nature centers, and parks. His tours have taken him as far as Banff National Park in Canada and the Beijing Natural History Museum in China. He has curated and toured exhibits such as Art and the Animal, The Horse in Fine Art, and Arts for the Park. In addition to the book American Wildlife Art, Wagner co-authored Natural Habitat, Contemporary Wildlife Artists of North America. He has also served as curator for the Society of Animal Artists Culpture Courtyard at the National Geographic Society in Washington, D.C.
Wagner's presentation and book signing are sponsored by the Historical Center's Draper Museum of Natural History. For more information and this and other events and programs at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, explore http://www.bbhc.org/
Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center weaves the varied threads of the western experience-history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone-into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is operating its summer schedule, open daily 8 a.m. - 6 p.m., through September 15, when hours change to 8 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Flickr. For general information, visit the new http://www.bbhc.org/ or call 307.587.4771.
Photo credit: Author David J. Wagner discusses his book, American Wildlife Art at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center September 14. Photo courtesy Marquand Books.