Buffalo Bill Center of the West Debuts "Audubon and Friends" Exhibit

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"Audubon and Friends" was recently installed in the Kriendler Gallery at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming. John S. Bugas Curator Mindy Besaw designed the exhibit for the Kriendler to showcase works on paper from the collection of the Center's Whitney Western Art Museum.

John James Audubon Eastern Grey Squirel

Audubon's "Eastern Grey Squirrel," 1821. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, USA. William E. Weiss Memorial Fund Purchase. 2.98

Though unified in subject, the prints range in style and time period, which provides a great opportunity to see how artists were inspired by the birds and wildlife of the country, and specifically of the American West.

Drawing from works both completed and inspired by John James Audubon, "Audubon and Friends" examines the continuing tradition of naturalist illustration. This exhibit is displayed in the H. Peter and Jeanette Kriendler Gallery located on the mezzanine floor of the Hub of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Typically, the naturalist/artist is associated with bird imagery, thanks to his monumental and successful publication, "Birds of America." However, late in life, his focus turned to mammals, and in an effort to record the mammals of North America, he traveled West—along the Missouri River from St. Louis to Fort Union, Montana—compiling specimens, drawings, and notes that eventually would become the multivolume book, "The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America." Unfortunately, Audubon never saw its completion. It would be his son, John Woodhouse Audubon, who finished his father’s work, along with the Reverend John Bachman, who wrote much of the scientific text as a co-author and editor.

The exhibit showcases the artistic progression of Audubon’s work from 1809 to 1844, best seen in the hand-colored engraving, "Goshawk and Stanley Hawk," which depicts two birds drawn 20 years apart. Also featured in the collection is the lithograph, "Eastern Grey Squirrel" (right), one of the pieces that Audubon carried with him out West to develop interest in his second publication on mammals. Another interesting piece, which invites comparison between the drawings of father and son, is "American Bison or Buffalo;" although this lithograph is attributed to John James, the stiffened modeling of the bison indicates that the piece was most likely drawn or completed by his son.

“Though unified in subject, the prints range in style and time period, which provides a great opportunity to see how artists were inspired by the birds and wildlife of the country, and specifically of the American West,” Besaw comments. Along with the Audubon prints, the exhibit features lithographs, etchings, and engravings by artists George Catlin, Olive Fell, Paul Pletka, Hans Kleiber, Alexander Phimister Proctor, and others.

For more information on this exhibit and others, visit the Center's Web site or its Facebook page. ____________________________________________

Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, 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 of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups” and, most recently, the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence.

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Marguerite House

Mindy Besaw
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since: 02/2010
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