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Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Amon Carter Museum of American Art

Cliffs on the Green River, Thomas Moran


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The Amon Carter Museum of American Art is located in Fort Worth, Texas. Its collections focus on 19th and early-to-mid 20th Century American art, including works by such artists as Alexander Calder, Thomas Cole, Stuart Davis, Charles Demuth, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, Georgia O'Keeffe, John Singer Sargent, and Alfred Stieglitz. These holdings are complemented by substantial photographic and archival collections. It also houses a research library of approximately 150,000 items, focusing on American art, history, and culture. Its present director (2015) is Andrew J. Walker.


The museum was established by Amon G. Carter, who amassed a sizable fortune in publishing, radio, television, oil, and aviation. His friendship with Will Rogers spurred an interest in the art of the American West, and he began collecting works of Frederic Remington and Charles Marion Russell. In time he accumulated approximately 400 works. When he died in 1955, his will provided for a museum to house his collection and "be operated as a nonprofit artistic enterprise for the benefit of the public and to aid in the promotion of the cultural spirit in the city of Fort Worth and vicinity."[2]

Carter's daughter, Ruth Carter Stevenson, assembled a board of directors including Richard F. Brown, Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Art; Rene d'Harnoncourt, Director of the Museum of Modern Art; and John de Menil, a respected art patron. With the board's approval she commissioned architect Philip Johnson to design the initial building. Johnson's design provided for a shellstone-sheathed building with a fourth wall of glass looking out to a panoramic view of Fort Worth. It included two tiers of small galleries and a main, two-story gallery in front. Construction began in 1960, and the museum opened in January 1961. Response to Johnson's design was quick and favorable. In a March 1961 article, "Portico on a Plaza," the Architectural Forum called it "an exceedingly handsome building -- beautifully situated and beautifully illuminated," then went on, "In this elegant, little museum the West makes a new beginning." Russell Lynes, writing in the May 1961 Harper's, summed up his reaction by calling it "Mr. Johnson's jewel box." [3][4][5]

The museum's first director, Mitchell A. Wilder (1913-1979), shared with Stevenson the belief that the story of American art could be interpreted as the history of many artists working at different times on "successive frontiers" -- a vision of the American experience of frontiers and expansion dubbed "westering." To advance this vision, Wilder began to expand the collection in many categories, from the first landscape painters of the 1830s to modern artists of the twentieth century.[6]

The museum opened with a collection of 544 works, principally by Remington and Russell. Among the earliest acquisitions, however, was a group of photographic studies of Russell by Dorothea Lange. This marked the beginning of a focus on photography that handily complements the museum's holding in pictorial art and sculpture. Originally designated the Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, it became the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in 2011.
In the Collections
Western Art

Frederic Remington, Dash for the Timber (1889) -- a monumental work that established Remington as a serious painter and considered by many to be his masterpiece.[7]

Frederic Remington, The Broncho Buster (1895) -- Remington's first attempt to model in bronze and the work that started him on a long secondary career as a sculptor.

Frederic Remington, The Fall of the Cowboy (1895) -- a poignant evocation of the fading of the mythic cowboy of legend, anticipating Owen Wister's landmark nove, The Virginian (1902)[8]

Charles M. Russell, Medicine Man (1908) -- a work reflecting Russell's sympathy for Native American culture and a detailed portrait of a Blackfeet shaman.[9]

Charles M. Russell, Meat for Wild Men (1924) -- an evocation of the "grand turmoil" resulting as a band of mounted hunters descends upon a herd of grazing buffalo.[10]
19th Century American Art

Thomas Cole, Garden of Eden (1828) -- Cole established American landscape painting as a dominant form, here combining a recognizable locale (the White Mountains of New Hampshire) with biblical and fantasy elements to portray the United States as a new Eden.

John Quincy Adams Ward, The Freedman (1863) -- Ward's response to the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863, the bronze portrays the freed slave not as a supplicant begging for mercy but instead as a strong, heroic type.

Martin Johnson Heade, Thunderstorm on Narragansett Bay (1868) -- Heade explores ominous the power of American nature, making it a metaphor for the Civil War and the Reconstruction era.

Thomas Eakins, The Swimming Hole (1885) -- a pivotal figure in American art, Eakins here declares his belief in the study of the human figure from life.

John Singer Sargent, Edwin Booth (1890) -- the preeminent stage actor of the 19th century, placed in a heroic pose, at ease, against the great fireplace of The Players club in New York.
20th Century American Art

The larger goals of the museum emerged in two exhibitions mounted within two years of its opening: The Artist's Environment: West Coast (1962) and Taos and Santa Fe: The Artists' Environment, 1882-1942 (1963). These goals were stated explicitly in 1967: "In studying the West, influences of the common American experience must be studied, even down to the present day. The museum has chosen the formative years of the 20th century to illustrate significant guideposts in the development of American art."[11] Modern works in the museum's collections only reinforce this statement.

Marsden Hartley, American Indians Symbols (1914) -- an example of Hartley's brightly colored abstract arrangements, incorporating American Indian motifs.

Elie Nadelman, Chef d'Orchestre (ca.1919) -- Nadelman's work emphasizes the principal hallmarks of early modernism in America, combining sophistication with simplicity of line and rough-hewn cherrywood.

Georgia O'Keeffe, Red Cannas (1927) -- O'Keeffe's flower paintings are her signature works. Here her amplification of red cannas capitalizes on the sensual beauty of the flower petals and verges upon abstraction.

Grant Wood, Parson Weems's Fable (1939) -- a humorous retelling of the fable of George Washington and the cherry tree, and a work that lifted Wood from his being labeled a regionalist painter.

Stuart Davis, Blips and Ifs (1963-1964) -- a culmination of Davis's long career, placing boldly colored abstract forms and words on the canvas in a way that evokes the cacophony of modern life.

The museum's collections hold some 300,000 photographic works. Included are works by Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, and Brett Weston and the photographic archives of Laura Gilpin, Eliot Porter, Karl Struss, and others. Other representative items are Alexander Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, Edward Curtis's The North American Indian and a complete run of Alfred Stieglitz's Camera Work.

Library and Archives
Photograph of the Amon Carter Museum of American Art Reading Room taken July 16, 2015
Amon Carter Museum of American Art Library Reading Room

The museum library, like its art collection, is built upon the foundations of Amon G. Carter's personal collection. His library numbered 2,500 volumes, principally narrative accounts of the American West and volumes relating to the land and industry of the region. The library now houses approximately 150,000 volumes of books and bound perioidcals, primarily 19th and 20th century, focusing on American art, history, and cultures. Included in the collection are such landmark works as

Alexander Wilson, Alexander Lawson, J.G. Warnicke, G. Murray and Benjamin Tanner, American Ornithology, or, the Natural History of the Birds of the United States (Philadelphia: Bradford and Inskeep, 1808-1814). The first bird book published in the United States and the first outstanding American color plate book.

James Otto Lewis, The Aboriginal Port-folio (Philadelphia: J.O. Lewis, 1835-1836). The first color plate book published on the North American Indian, predating other famous works by Thomas L. McKenney, James Hall, and George Catlin.

United States Department of War, Reports of Explorations and Surveys to Ascertain the Most Practicable and Economical Route for a Railroad from the Mississippi River to the Pacific Ocean (Washington, D.C.: B. Tucker, Printer, 1855-1861). Published by the Federal Government to record the explorations to determine a railroad route to the Pacific, these volumes fully examine the geography, geology, and natural history of the American West.

Edward S. Curtis, The North American Indian (Seattle: E.S. Curtis, 1907-1930). Curtis's attempt a comprehensive encyclopedia of American Indian life. He compiled information on 80 nations ranging from the Inuit people of the far north to the Hopi people of the Southwest.

Walker Evans, American Photographs (New York: Museum of Modern Art, 1938). A pioneering photographic essay on American culture and society.

The museum is the mid-country affiliate for the Archives of American Art, containing millions of microfilmed primary documents. It holds as well personal archives of individual artists and collections of a primarily historical interest, such as the foundry records of the Roman Bronze Works.
See also

List of museums in North Texas


Amon Carter Museum: About, ARTINFO, 2008, retrieved 2008-07-28
Askew, Rual (25 January 1961). ""Area Graced by Memorial"". Dallas Morning News.
Wright, George S. (1997). ""An Interview with Philip Johnson"". Monument for a City: Philip Johnson's Design for the Amon Carter Museum. Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum.
""Portico on a Plaza"". Architectural Forum. March 1961.
""Everything's Up to Date in Texas...But Me"". Harper's. May 1961.
Junker, Patricia; et al. (2001). "An American Collection: Works from the Amon Carter Museum". New York: Hudson Hills Press in association with the Amon Carter Museum. pp. 14–15.
Stewart, Rick (2001). "The Grand Frontier: Remington and Russell in the Amon Carter Museum". Fort Worth: Amon Carter Muserum.
Stewart. Great Frontier. p. 19.
Stewart. Great Frontier. p. 42.
Stewart, Rick (1994). "Charles M. Russell:Sculptor". Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum. pp. 286–290.
""Image to Abstraction"". Press release. Amon Carter Museum. 1967.


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