One might question whether Peter Hassrick realizes he’s retired; clearly his Buffalo Bill Center of the West “director emeritus” title fools no one. There’s more than an honorary title here—there’s real work involved.
Hassrick, the Center’s Director Emeritus and a Senior Scholar, continues to curate art exhibitions, lecture on art of the American West, write numerous articles about western artists, and simultaneously—but coincidentally—released two books this spring. Retired? Not very likely.
In the mid-1990s, Hassrick and co-author, Melissa J. Webster commenced a detective story of sorts. They scoured the nation and the world for all the known works by popular western artist Frederic Remington (1861 – 1909). With owners of previously unknown Remington works stepping forward, plus an illustrated calendar here, a sketch for a magazine article there, or a casual mention somewhere else, Hassrick and Webster documented their findings and launched a search for the original artwork.
By 1996, they’d completed Frederic Remington: A Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Watercolors, and Drawings. The volume lists all known Remington two-dimensional works with an illustration for each. Twenty years later, Hassrick and publisher, University of Oklahoma Press, have updated the catalogue with some 250 newly discovered Remington works, added seven new essays, and improved image quality. The online catalog, designed by the Center’s Information Technology staff is available at remington.centerofthewest.org/pages/about.
But Remington isn’t the only catalogue raisonné (French for “reasoned catalogue”) that has occupied Hassrick’s efforts. In 2015, the Ricketts Art Foundation joined with the Center and the Museum of the Mountain Man to produce an online collection of the western paintings of the great 19th-century American artist, Alfred Jacob Miller. Titled Fur Traders and Rendezvous: The Alfred Jacob Miller Online Catalogue, the website features high-resolution images of Miller’s paintings from public collections inspired by his historic 1837 trip west to the Rocky Mountains.
Now, Hassrick is organizing an online catalogue of selected works of sculptor Alexander Phimister Proctor, an artist whose mammoth sculptures continue to grace parks, bridges, and other public spaces throughout America.
With its Centennial in 2016, America’s national parks have been the talk of the country all year long. Since artists commanded such a major role in generating interest particularly in Yellowstone, Hassrick thought it fitting to re-release his 2002 book Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America’s First National Park. Originally produced as a companion volume to an exhibition of the same name at the Autry National Center in California, Hassrick explains, “[The new version] is shorter than the original and focuses on Yellowstone-related art produced between 1870 and 1930.”
Both the Remington Catalogue Raisonné II and Drawn to Yellowstone are available from the Center’s Museum Store.
A prolific writer and speaker, Hassrick has served as guest curator of numerous exhibits nationally and internationally. He is a former 20-year Executive Director of the Center of the West and has served tenures directing the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art, the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West, and the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, as well as working as collections curator at the Amon Carter Museum.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.