Remington and Indian and Western Images
REMINGTON AND INDIAN AND WESTERN IMAGES
REMINGTON AND INDIAN AND WESTERN IMAGES. Artists such as Frederic Remington (1861– 1909) provided filmmakers with the lexicon for making Westerns. This lexicon has been used throughout the twentieth century and into the twenty-first. In his short career of only about twenty-five years, Remington produced a huge body of illustration, painting, sculpture, fiction, and nonfiction—most of which centered on imagining the nineteenth-century American West. For most of his life, Remington worked as a painter, producing close to three thousand paintings. Perhaps his most famous painting is A Dash for the Timber (1889). The painting depicts a group of cowboys scurrying away from avenging Indians. It creates a world of action and adventure that held and continues to hold great appeal for many Americans. Although Remington lived for short periods in the West, most of his depictions of the West were imagined rather than experienced directly.
Remington's work was celebrated in the late nineteenth century and is still celebrated for the way it captures what most white Americans believe about America's past. Since the 1890s, many Americans have adhered to the idea that the "real" West died and that with this event the nation had lost a romantic history marked not only by clashes between Indians and whites, but by lawlessness amongst whites, and by economic opportunity for whites. Remington, it was and still is believed, captured that conviction and celebrated a history that was both American and western. Remington immortalized the nostalgia white Americans invoked with memories of the frontier, the West, the cowboy, and the Indian. He captured a mythology that can be seen in all filmic depictions of the West as well as in cowboy-inspired fashion. Whites in the East needed to feel heroic about the conquest of the West, and Remington satisfied their desires through his art.
Dippie, Brian W. Remington and Russell: The Sid Richardson Collection. Rev. ed. Austin: University of Texas Press, 1994.