Buffalo Bill Center of the West Joins with Harry Jackson Studios to Announce Upcoming Jackson Bio

Share Article

Dr. Henry Adams, well-known art historian and author, has begun a biography on the late western artist Harry Jackson (1924 – 2011). The Buffalo Bill Center of the West (formerly the Buffalo Bill Historical Center) and Harry Jackson Studios are working with Adams on the story of this popular painter and sculptor.

Harry Jackson

Harry Jackson, 2005

Tackling the Harry Jackson biography isn’t new ground for Henry Adams.

Dr. Henry Adams spent time over the last two summers in Cody, Wyoming, researching the life and times of Harry Jackson, an artist known well to the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. In 2011, Adams studied the extensive archives at Harry Jackson Studios, which include Jackson’s journals dating back to 1945, collected letters, personal records, business records, and an extensive library that the painter and sculptor had annotated. Last summer, Adams returned to Cody and conducted interviews with Jackson’s close friends; he is now working on the biography manuscript.

Adams writes, “Harry Jackson is best remembered as the most important sculptor of themes drawn from the American West since Remington and Russell, and as the figure responsible for resurrecting a dying genre and creating the phenomenon of contemporary western art. But in fact, this achievement is only one episode in Harry Jackson’s astonishing career.”

Since Harry Jackson passed away in 2011, the availability of his archives and large collection of his own works offer an incredible opportunity for scholarship. “This biography is but the first step in the exploration of an important American artist,” said Mindy N. Besaw, curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, “and we are proud to promote this important research.”

Jackson’s painting "Red, Yellow and Blue" was shown in the ground-breaking 9th Street show of abstract expressionism in 1951 in New York City. He was friends with artist Jackson Pollock—who was born in Cody, Wyoming—and was in the art movement that drove the center of the art world from Paris to New York. Considered one of the foremost sculptors of the American West, Jackson was also a close friend of actor John Wayne. These seemingly contradictory scenes come from the same life. No wonder the working title for Adams' biography of Jackson is “The Nine Lives of Harry Jackson.”

The Center of the West has 35 Jackson paintings and sculptures from the abstract to the realistic. When chosen as the 2006 Buffalo Bill Art Show & Sale’s Honored Artist, Jackson’s advice to view either was, “Don’t impose your images on the work. Open yourself, and be as neutrally and lovingly receptive as you can be. This is the way to look at any work of art, no matter how realistic or abstract it may be. Just let it happen to you.”

Tackling an artist biography isn’t new ground for Adams. He is a professor of art history at Case-Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and has written extensively on the subject. His books cover the gamut from Thomas Eakins and Thomas Hart Benton to Jackson Pollock. Some of his more recent volumes include: "Tom and Jack: The Intertwined Lives of Thomas Hart Benton and Jackson Pollock;" "Viktor Schreckengost: American Da Vinci;" "Thomas Hart Benton: An American Original;" and "Eakins Revealed: The Secret Life of an American Artist." Adams also received the 2010 Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature by the Cleveland Arts Prize. “Henry is a deeply engaging writer who has a knack for making sense of ‘difficult’ works of art,” says former Arts Prize winner Dennis Dooley. “Adams can spin a narrative as gripping as any novelist’s.”

Adams’ Harry Jackson biography is scheduled to be published in two years. For more information, contact Matt Jackson at Harry Jackson Studios. More information about the Center is available on their Web site or by calling 307.587.4771.

Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center is now operating its summer schedule, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. daily. For additional information, visit the Center's Web site or its Facebook page.

Harry Jackson Studios was started by the artist to market and sell his artwork, an effort that has continued with the artist's family and now represents his estate. The organization promotes shows of the Harry Jackson Collection, research in the Harry Jackson Archives, and sales of Harry Jackson works of art. For additional information visit their Web site or their page on Facebook.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Marguerite House

Matt Jackson
Follow us on
Visit website