new beginnings: an american story of romantics and modernists in the west

03.25.2021 – 07.18.2021

The Yellowstone Art Museum is honored to be included in the tour of the Tia Collection’s New Beginnings: An American Story of Romantics and Modernists in the West. This is our second collaboration with the Tia Collection. This exhibition focuses on Taos area artists who began to experiment with interpreting the West through a modern lens. Like the early Montana Modernists, these artists pushed boundaries, adapted new ways of thinking and seeing, and found their own version of place-based Modernism. Many had national influence and a direct impact on our own region.

Former YAM Curator Bob Durden wrote for the exhibition catalog, “It was not a stretch of the imagination to find parallels between the developments and influence of the Taos and Santa Fe artists and those living in the Northern Rockies and Central Plains. In each case there exists a pluralism between the exacting narratives and representational forms that continue to persist and flourish in both regions and those that also ride the sometimes bumpy and reflexive edge of Modernism. These traditions can clash, intertwine, and inform all of the multi-faceted disciplines represented in this exhibition—and, in turn, spark the curiosity of the viewer.”

The exhibition’s artists include Joseph H. Sharp, who set up a studio on the Crow Agency, not far from Billings, Montana. John Marin and John Sloan directly influenced Montana Modernist Isabelle Johnson. Post-Impressionist, Jozef Bakos, like Johnson, strove to imbue his paintings with an emotive quality that went beyond pictorial landscape. They expressed the harsh realities of their often hostile environment in a manner that is not only visually stunning, but evokes the feeling of sublime space.

Durden continues, “Just as the paintings of our region are often characterized by the clarity of light and expansive views—as well as the representation, both historic and allegorical, of Native people and the animals that inhabit the land—selections from the Tia Collection beautifully reflect similar notions about people, places, and traditions. From a formal perspective, the paintings capture an undeniably stark light present in the Southwest and specific to the region.”

The Tia Collection has assembled tremendous examples of well-known Taos and Santa Fe painters and lesser-known New Mexican painters. We are grateful to the Tia foundation and thrilled by the opportunity to share these treasures with our patrons.