Charlie’s Circle: The Art and Influence of Charles M. Russell
Cody Firearms Museum Breezeway
November 21, 2017 – May 13, 2018
The Whitney Western Art Museum presents a special exhibition celebrating the legacy of beloved cowboy artist Charles M. Russell (1864 – 1926). Charlie’s Circle: The Art and Influence of Charles M. Russell highlights the shared passions and subjects among artists in Russell’s orbit, and includes sculpture, paintings, and illustrated letters. Drawn entirely from the Whitney’s permanent collection, this new show presents more than thirty works of art by Russell and his friends Ed Borein, Will James, Joe De Yong, and Philip Goodwin.
Karen McWhorter, Scarlett Curator of Western American Art, remarks, “The inspiration for organizing this exhibition was two-fold. Firstly, I hoped to complement the release of the new documentary, C.M. Russell and the American West, produced by Montana PBS and airing mid-November. The Center of the West contributed content and expertise to this exciting production, and we hope to host a screening of the three-part film this winter.
“Secondly, and more importantly,” she adds, “I hoped Charlie’s Circle would answer a common call among our constituents: We want more Russells. Russell is an absolute crowd favorite in Cody, but given the limited real estate in the Whitney, we can’t always display more than a handful of his works at a time. With this spotlight exhibition, I mined our Museum, bringing to light some of our treasures from the vaults. I especially hope our local community enjoys this special presentation—it was coordinated with them in mind.”
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West has one of the most robust institutional collections of Charles M. Russell’s art. The vast majority of its paintings and sculptures were donated over the years by members of the Weiss Family, particularly William E. Weiss’s (1913–1985). Charlie’s Circle includes ten Russell works donated by the Weisses, and nineteen more are currently on view in the Whitney Western Art Museum. The Charles Ulrick and Josephine Bay Foundation, Inc. (now the Bay and Paul Foundations), also contributed significantly to the Center’s collection of Russell paintings and sculptures. Four major paintings from the Foundation are shown in Charlie’s Circle.