Making a Good Impression in the West

Howard Terpning’s The Shaman and His Magic Feathers, shows a shaman flinging feathers in the wind, observed by astonished adults and children. The 65-inch canvas enabled Terpning to fill it with astonishing detail as well. It took top dollar at the Scottsdale Art Auction, selling for $1,506,000.

 

With the rise of photography in the second half of the 19th century, art no longer needed to be a visual record. One result was the Impressionist movement, considered the most significant development in art after the Renaissance. What distinguished the Impressionists’ work was not just their techniques but the impressions their paintings evoked. Their experimentation also influenced Western artists, who moved away from literal, almost photographic, depictions in their work. The impact of Impressionism could be seen in many of the works at this year’s Scottsdale Art Auction on April 8 and 9. 

Established in 1915, the Taos Society of Artists stimulated the development of Taos as a major center for Western art. Its members were also influenced by Impressionism, which can be seen in pieces by members of the society sold at the Scottsdale Art Auction. Joseph Henry Sharp’s Indian Couple in Interior captured $220,000, and E. Irving Couse’s painting Moonlight—Pueblo de Taos hammered out at $140,000. Among the Adobes—Taos and Indian Riders, works by fellow society founders Oscar Berninghouse and William Dunton, brought $45,000 and $35,000, respectively. The influence of Impressionism can be seen in works by non-society members Edgar Payne (Arizona Indians, which went for $438,750), and Frank Tenney Johnson (The Rimrock Rambler, which brought $585,000). 

 

Bold colors and shapes help define All the Wild That Remains by Logan Maxwell Hagege. The painting, plus a colored pencil study he created while working on the piece, sold for twice the expected sale price.

 

The Impressionists broke ground for Abstract Expressionism and other adventurous art movements in the century that followed. Those new approaches to art were reflected in many of the paintings at the auction, some of which sold for twice as much as estimated. Logan Maxwell Hagege’s All the Wild That Remains brought $160,000, although originally expected to bring $80,000. Ed Mell’s abstracted images of Western landscapes and flowers also did well, with Night Bloom greatly exceeding its high estimate of $25,000 by pulling in $50,000. Eric Bowman’s impressionistic A Beautiful Day, at $65,000, more than doubled its high estimate of $30,000. Tony Abeyta’s Copper Valley, Chamise Blooms, estimated to bring in $7,000, went for $17,000. 

Impressionism has played its part in the American West, influencing many of its artists. And when the final gavel fell on April 9, traditional and contemporary Western art at the Scottsdale Art Auction had rounded up a total of over $14 million. 

All Images Courtesy Scottsdale Art Auction 

 

UPCOMING AUCTIONS

July 12-14, 2022

Collectible Firearms & Militaria

Morphy Auctions (Denver, PA)

MorphyAuctions.com • 877-968-8880

July 23, 2022

The 2022 Coeur d’Alene Art Auction

Grand Sierra Resort (Reno, NV)

CDAArtAuction.com • 208-772-9009

August 26, 2022

Premier Firearms Auction #86

Rock Island Auction Co. (Rock Island, IL)

RockIslandAuction.com • 800-238-8022

 

 

Tony Abeyta’s Copper Valley, Chamise Blooms, with its abstracted sky and realistic floral array, was estimated to bring in $7,000 but went for $17,000.

 

Edgar Payne’s innate talents and careful eye enabled him to capture moments in the West using broad brush strokes like the Impressionists’. The subjects of his Arizona Indians are perfectly comfortable in a roughly depicted, yet expansive landscape.

 

Frank Tenney Johnson summered for five years in the Wapiti Valley near Yellowstone. His painting The Rimrock Rambler depicts a cowboy relaxing in that valley. The painting is set in 1936, but wait, is he checking his email?

 

Eric Bowman’s A Beautiful Day, has whipped cream clouds floating above riders, who are crossing a landscape that appears surreal. The sky is a kaleidoscope of colors in this painting that brought $65,000.

 

Joseph Henry Sharp’s choice to depict a couple at home came from his desire to show Indians as human beings, not stereotypes. That desire was realized in his painting Indian Couple in Interior, which sold for $220,000.

 

E. Irving Couse and Oscar Berninghouse, both members of the Taos Society of Artists, were attracted to the Taos Pueblo as a subject. Each has an Impressionistic approach to the subject, with Berninghouse’s Among the Adobes—Taos depicting a daytime scene, while Couse’s painting Moonlight—Pueblo de Taos uses firelights and moonlight to illuminate the night.

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