19th-21st Century Rocky Mountain and Southwest Paintings and Sculpture



This section of the Traditional Fine Arts Organization (TFAO) catalogue Topics in American Art is devoted to the topic "19th-21st Century Rocky Mountain and Southwest Paintings* and Sculpture." Articles and essays specific to this topic published in TFAO's Resource Library are listed at the beginning of the section.

Following the listing of Resource Library articles and essays are links to valuable online resources found outside our website. Links may be to museums' articles about exhibits, plus much more topical information based on our online searches.

Following online resources is information about offline resources including museums, DVDs, and paper-printed books, journals and articles.


(above: Thomas Moran, Grand Canyon with Rainbow. 1912. Oil on canvas. de Young Art Museum. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert F. Gill through the Patrons of Art and Music. 1981.89. License: Scuttlebutte, CC BY-SA 4.0 Scuttlebutte, CC BY-SA 4.0. via Wikimedia Commons)


Our 163 articles and essays honoring the American experience through its art:

05 2009-2016

11 2008

13 2007

06 2006

10 2005

13 2004

23 2003

46 2000-2002

36 1997-1999


(above: Ray Roberts, Procession, 2020, oil on linen. 30 x 40 inches. Private collection.)

Other online sources:

Mabel Dodge Luhan & Company: American Moderns and the West is a 2017 exhibit at the Burchfield - Penney Art Center which says: "This exhibition is the first to explore the impact Mabel Dodge Luhan had on some of the most compelling modern American artists, writers, and social activists.  It offers a glimpse at the uproarious, complicated life of a woman whose goal was to revolt against the old-fashioned, Victorian environment in which she was raised -- and from which she benefitted financially." Also see dedicated website. Accessed 4/17

Near East to Far West: Fictions of French and American Colonialism is a 2023 exhibit at the Denver Art Museum which says: "Near East to Far West: Fictions of French and American Colonialism presents more than 80 artworks exploring the many ways that the style and substance of French Orientalism directly influenced American artists and their representations of the American West in art and popular culture during this period."  Accessed 7/23

Nicolai Fechin and Southwest Art from the Permanent Collection is a 2012-13 exhibit at the Dubuque Museum of Art which says: "A rare opportunity to see two exquisite works by Russian/American master and celebrated Southwest artist, Nicolai Fechin." Also see entry in Wikipedia. Accessed 3/17

Painting the American Southwest: The Work of Otto Plaug is a 2019 exhibit at the Albany (NY) Institute of History and Art which says: "Plaug will rejoin the ranks of Georgia O'Keefe, Gustave Baumann, Robert Henri, Winold Reiss, and other well-known American modernists who found the American southwest a source of inspiration and astonishing beauty."  Also see 1/19/20 article in The Daily Gazette.  Accessed 8/20 

The Rockies and the Alps is a 2018 exhibit at the Newark Museum which says: "Focusing on the 1830s to the 1870s, a critical period when artists, scientists, sight-seers and armchair travelers on both continents were awakening to the attractions of the mountains, The Rockies and the Alps showcases finished masterworks and plein air sketches by some of America's most celebrated landscape artists: Albert Bierstadt, Worthington Whittredge, Thomas Cole, Frederic Church, John Singer Sargent, and others - along with breathtaking alpine views by the leader of the Swiss alpine school of painting, Alexandre Calame, and other revered European landscape painters such as J. M. W. Turner and John Ruskin." Accessed 5/18

Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art & the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch is a 2020 exhibit at the Booth Western Art Museum which says: "Art dealer Elaine Horwitch was a major force in contemporary art in the Southwest from the early 1970s until her death in 1991, responsible for launching the careers of hundreds of artists from the region. This exhibition highlights the works of some of the Elaine Horwitch Galleries' most popular artists."  Accessed 4/21

Southwest Rising: Contemporary Art and the Legacy of Elaine Horwitch is a 2020 exhibit at the Tucson Musetum of Art. The online presentation includes a three part virtual tour. Accessed 7/22

Way Out West: Celebrating the Gift of the Hugh A. McAllister Jr. Collection is a 2019 exhibit at the Ackland Art Museum which says: "Displayed together with artworks already in the Museum's own permanent collection, the exhibition features nearly eighty works spanning over 150 years, by artists such as Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Ansel Adams, Awa Tsireh, Dorothea Lange, Edward Weston, and Allan Houser, among others, that chart how artists have responded to the landscape and culture of the American West since the late nineteenth century." Also see 6//15/19 article from The Triangle Guide Accessed 11/19 

A World Unconquered: The Art of Oscar Brousse Jacobson is a 2015 exhibit at the Fred Jones Jr Museum of Art which says: "Jacobson completed in excess of 600 works of art during his fifty-year career and looked to the landscapes of Colorado, New Mexico, and Oklahoma for inspiration."  Accessed 8/18


(above: E. Irving Couse (1866-1936), The Lovers, 1909, oil on canvas, Brigham Young University Museum of Art. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)


Books focusing on the art history of the Colorado Plateau, courtesy of Alan Petersen, Fine Arts Department Chair, Colorado Plateau Studies Coordinator, Coconino Community College:

Weigle, Marta and Babcock, Barbara, ed.. The Great Southwest of the Fred Harvey Company and the Santa Fe Railway. The Heard Museum, 1996.
Babbitt, Bruce. Color and Light, The Southwest Canvases of Louis Aiken. Flagstaff: Northland Press, 1973.
Belknap, Bill. Gunnar Widforss: painter of the Grand Canyon. Published for the Museum of Northern Arizona by Northland Press, 1969.
Brody, J.J. Anasazi and Pueblo Painting. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1991.
Chase, Katherine L. Brushstrokes on the Plateau: An Overview of Anglo Art on the Colorado Plateau. The Museum of Northern Arizona, 1984.
Gibbs, Linda Jones. Escape to Reality: The Western World of Maynard Dixon. Brigham Young University, 2001.
Hagerty, Donald. Beyond the Visible Terrain. Northland Publishing, 1996.
Heard Museum, Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection. Phoenix: The Heard Museum, 1976.
Howard, Kathleen L. and Pardue, Diana F. Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art. Flagstaff: Northland Publishing, Flagstaff, 1996.
Huseman, Ben W. Wild River, Timeless Canyons, Balduin Möllhausen's Watercolors of the Colorado. Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum, 1995.
Kinsey, Joni Louise. Thomas Moran and the Surveying of the American West. Smithsonian Books, 1992.
Kinsey, Joni . The Majesty of the Grand Canyon: 150 Years in Art. Pomegranate, 2004
Laird, Helen. Carl Oscar Borg and the Magic Realm. Layton: Gibbs M. Smith, Inc., Peregrine Smith Books, 1986.
Mahaffey, Merrill. Arizona Landscape Project: Paintings by Merrill Mahaffey. Scottsdale Center for the Arts, 1979.
Mahaffey, Merrill. Monumental Landscapes. Northland Press, 1979.
Mead, Tray C., ed. Capturing the Canyon, Artists in the Grand Canyon. Mesa Southwest Museum, 1987.
Petersen, Alan. "Merrill Mahaffey: Interior Landscapes of the West, a Fifty-Year Retrospective." Plateau. The Museum of Northern Arizona, 2008.
Smith, Thomas Brent. A Place of Refuge: Maynard Dixon's Arizona. Tucson Museum of Art, 2008.

Also see Southwestern art books


(above: Maynard Dixon, Home of the Desert Rat, c. 1944-1945, oil on canvas, Phoenix Art Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


(above: Charles Deas, Long Jakes; The Rocky Mountains Man, 1844, oil on canvas, 30 x 25 inches, Denver Art Museum. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons*)


Please click here to view artworks for Rocky Mountains national parks.


*Out of curiosity, we asked ChatGPT in April, 2024 to comment on 19th-21st Century Rocky Mountain and Southwest Paintings. It replied as follows:

"Early Rocky Mountains painters were artists who depicted the landscapes, wildlife, and indigenous peoples of the Rocky Mountain region during the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some notable early Rocky Mountains painters include:

Albert Bierstadt: Although primarily known for his paintings of the American West, Bierstadt also depicted scenes of the Rocky Mountains, including iconic landscapes such as "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak."

Thomas Moran: Renowned for his stunning landscapes, Moran painted several scenes of the Rocky Mountains, particularly those of the Yellowstone region. His work played a significant role in the establishment of Yellowstone National Park.

Alfred Jacob Miller: Known for his paintings of the American West, Miller's early works included scenes of the Rocky Mountains and encounters between mountain men and Native Americans.

Charles M. Russell: Often referred to as "the cowboy artist," Russell depicted scenes of the Old West, including life in the Rocky Mountain region. His paintings often featured cowboys, Native Americans, and wildlife.

William Henry Jackson: Although primarily known as a photographer, Jackson was also a talented painter who depicted scenes of the Rocky Mountains, particularly those of the Colorado Rockies.

Sanford Robinson Gifford: While Gifford is more closely associated with the Hudson River School, he also painted landscapes of the Rocky Mountains during his travels in the American West.

These artists played a crucial role in documenting and romanticizing the landscapes and cultures of the Rocky Mountains, contributing to the broader narrative of westward expansion and the exploration of the American frontier."

Do not rely on this AI-generated text for accuracy. It may be laden with inaccurate information including hallucinations. 


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