Curator Mindy Besaw recently spoke to Wyoming Public Media about the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Whitney Western Art Museum, its unique juxtaposition of historic and contemporary western art, and how the thematic design of the Whitney helps us tells the story of western art in chapters.
Visit their website to listen to Besaw speaking about the the power of visual art, including the works on exhibit in the museum. In her words, “There is something really poignant and alive about this work, historic or new, that can affect how you see the West, and hopefully does.”
Wyoming Public Media’s introduction to the story: “Historically, many museums have been neatly divided: by genre, by artist, by time period. Now curators are mixing up exhibits, so works are in conversation (or in contrast) with one another. A prime example is the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, in Cody. Curator Mindy Besaw explains why she displays old and new works side by side.”
Besaw discusses the juxtaposition of historic and contemporary interpretations of the same subject. An example: the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park, painted by Albert Bierstadt (above right) about 1881, by Kathy Wipfler (above left) in 2006, and Stephen Hannock in 2010 (right).
Images, three interpretations of the Lower Falls of the Yellowstone:
- Albert Bierstadt, 1830 – 1902. Lower Falls, ca. 1881. Oil on canvas, 44.25 x 30.5 inches. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Lloyd Taggart. 2.63
- Kathy Wipfler. Lower Falls of the Yellowstone, 2006. Oil on canvas, 50 x 50 inches. Gift of the Mary A.H. Rumsey Foundation. 10.07
- Stephen Hannock. Flooded Cascade, Yellowstone Dawn, 2010. Mixed media, tryptych, total dimensions 96 x 144 inches. Loan from the artist. L.345.2010.1