Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art is the first major exhibition to explore the multifaceted meanings of such outdoor subjects in both painting and sculpture from the early nineteenth century to World War II. These aesthetically rich and culturally important works play an influential role in the history of American art.
American artists’ fascination with depicting hunting and fishing was often informed by their own experiences as practitioners and was more than merely a way of commemorating outdoor traditions. Approximately 60 paintings and sculptures—some of the finest examples of American art—illuminate changing ideas about place, national identity, community, wildlife, and the environment, offering compelling insights into socioeconomic issues and cultural concerns. Capturing a communion with nature that was becoming increasingly scarce, many artists alluded to the country’s burgeoning industrialization and urbanization.
This exhibition encompasses a wide variety of portraits, landscapes, still lifes, and genre scenes, including iconic works by Thomas Cole, Thomas Eakins, Winslow Homer, and Augustus Saint-Gaudens, as well as key pictures by specialists in the category such as Charles Deas, Alfred Jacob Miller, William T. Ranney, and Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait. In addition, it sheds new light on modernist interpretations of these subjects by George Bellows and Marsden Hartley, among others.
Wild Spaces, Open Seasons: Hunting and Fishing in American Art has been organized by Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Dixon Gallery and Gardens, Joslyn Art Museum, and Shelburne Museum. This exhibition is supported by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The local presentation is supported by BNSF Railway Foundation, Kleinheinz Family Foundation for the Arts and Education, Luther King Capital Management, and Wells Fargo.