How the American West Served to Expand the Depth and Breadth of Painting

How the American West Served to Expand the Depth and Breadth of Painting

There is an unexplored relationship between the expansion of the American West and contemporary abstraction in painting. The American West and the opening of the West to exploration and expansion were filled with mythology and bravado, plus a great deal of inaccurate reporting. The Western territories were already inhabited in the 16th and 17th centuries by Native Americans who were tribal and of course did not refer to themselves as Indians or Americans. And while the Territorial Expansion was not fair minded or kind in any fashion, it did allow Europeans and individuals from around the world to find a part of the world that was full of promise, enormous in its geographic range and chock full of nearly impossible possibilities. Europe had for centuries been developed in its architecture and cultural agendas and its peoples located in a kind of caste system that could limit creativity. This is not to say that Europe did not develop some of the greatest painters in the world between the 15th and 20th centuries.  But there was a kind of limited thinking in terms of scale and the possibilities of what pearly open space could do to affect the artistic imagination. There is relationship, in other words, between the amount of space that people inhabit and how very wide they can spread their wings and fly. Artists working in Europe had limited space physically, culturally and mentally The artists working in tight channels in Europe, in city lanes and wrapped around mountain villages, with few exceptions, did not have the space or the imagination to think far outside the historical and architectural limitations of...