Painting Nowhere

June 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

This is another painting that I talked before at the Brooklyn Museum. “The storm in the Rocky Mountains” by Bierstadt. The painting is the size of a small bus…Big!!! Students were impressed by size alone I think. I would also add that they were impressed by what seemed reality. Birestadt had indeed seen the west before most Americans and his paintings seemed to depict what he had seen. He did do sketches on the scene, but when he returned to his studio in Westchester New York, what he created was not a accurate depiction of what he had seen and sketched.  His paintings were  made up from the bits and pieces of many places and made dramatic in this case with an approaching storm. In short as lovely as it seems this place does not exist. It is a fabrication.  This was however how may in the East were introduced to the glories of the American West , and young man…go there .
There is so much packed into this painting and often as I was teaching in front of it I would discover new things. I do recall the Native American camp site that I had not seen at first. ( sorry that I cannot find a more detailed image to show you this. Perhaps this is a good reason to go to museums and stand before the real objects rather than trust in digital or text book images.)
I did point out to my listeners that this man’s paintings were anticipated by communities in the East somewhat like we look forward to movie openings now. Tickets had to be bought to see his work . Many a lady brought opera glasses to examine the paintings.  I am certain there was refreshments before if not after the viewing. This was the late 19th century after all.



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