• SOURCE: Thyssen Museum

The Illusion Of The American Frontier



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00.00" Few territories have been so fertile in stimulating the collective imagination as the Wild West. Perhaps, because the discovery of such incomparable natural grandeur, came at a time when Europe felt overwhelmed by its increasingly industrialized cities. The Wild West offered artists an unspoiled natural paradise. And they in turn helped ensure the protection of these wide open spaces for future generations, according to the curator of a new exhibition at Madrid's Thyssen Museum. '00.34 " Blanco Soundbite: Miguel Ángel Blanco stresses the influence of these early painters and photographers in the decision to establish the American National Park Service; including Yellowstone, which was the first to be declared, and then with Yosemite National Park. 00.55" As if that were not enough, this spectacular land was inhabited by humans who galloped across the endless meadows hunting bison to get food, skins and fat for fuel. Unfortunately, these noble savages had the temerity to oppose the railroad, industrialisation and progress; with the regrettable exception of the 'fire water' that was eventually to prove their undoing. 01.21" "The Last of the Race" by T H Matteson shows an Indian family on the shores of the Pacific Ocean as they realise that even the Wild West has its boundaries and the white invaders have left them with nowhere to go. 01.35" "The illusion of the American Frontier" at the Thyssen Museum, begins with maps by the first Spanish explorers who crossed the Mississippi and the plains of New Mexico. It continues with depictions of the dignified simplicity of Apache life: a way of life challenged by the arrival of Buffalo Bill 01.54" Of the more than 60 million bison that once roamed the plains, just 41 examples remained. Towns, taverns and brothels spread across the vast plains of the Native American tribes. The American Indian was soon reduced to the status of circus spectacle or, at best, the role of cinematic bad guy. 02.16" The exhibition ends with works by the curator himself, the artist Miguel Ángel Blanco. The Book-Boxes in his Library of the Forest feature eagle feathers, obsidian tears and Arizonian textures. These final exhibits remind us that nature is at the origin as well as the end of all adventures; including those in the Wild West. 02.38" From 3 November to 16 February - "The illusion of the American Frontier" 02.49" ends
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