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Known for his devotion and respect for both the material culture and traditions of Blackfoot, Crow, Lakota, and other Plains tribes, Terpning's work does more than paint a picture; it tells a story. Terpning often consults with Native American tribal members to ensure accuracy in all his works.
This exhibition brings together over eighty masterworks, some never displayed in public before. What started as a successful illustration career in Hollywood -- with work on such films as Gone With the Wind, The Sound of Music, and Cleopatra -- led to a focus on Western art, which is often narrative in style.
During a civilian combat artist assignment, Terpning traveled to Vietnam and witnessed the devastation of the local indigenous population during the war. Those eyewitness accounts sparked his interest in the treatment of Native peoples in the United States.
Terpning is also considered by his peers and collectors to be one of the greatest of all painters of the American West. The paintings reflect my admiration for Native people, and the stories that I tell on canvas provide a very small window into the lives of the First Americans who inhabited the Great Plains," said Terpning.
It is now part of the Autry's permanent collection.
Fascinated by the movement and force of rushing water, he was inspired to create this painting from a thundering, cascading river of water moving through a narrow gorge in Glacier National Park. Using photographs he took as the basis for a large rock formation, Terpning placed a group of Blackfeet riders on this natural stage.
Shown looking in multiple directions, their outward gaze suggests an even more expansive scene to which each individual reacts differently.
Terpning considers this his signature work. Sound of a Distant Bugle also conjures the imagery of water. While attending a gathering at the Big Horn River, Terpning observed a group of young Native men charging into the river on horseback.
Working with the idea of stepping back in time, Terpning visualized them as a party of Cheyenne warriors cooling off on a hot day as they look out for potential danger.
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An intricate design and complex composition are demonstrated in numerous details throughout the painting. Highlighting the reflections in the water, maintaining the illusion of a fast-moving current, creating the appearance of wet skin, placing the figures in different depths, and creating movement throughout the piece are characteristics of Terpning's masterful style.
These two Autry pieces will join the 84 additional works on display. An accompanying book, Howard Terpning: About Howard Terpning Howard Terpning has tremendous respect for the Native American people who lived in the nineteenth century, portraying them honestly and accurately.
He is also considered by his peers and collectors to be one of the greatest of all painters of the American West.The Autry is a museum dedicated to bringing together the stories of all peoples of the American West, connecting the past with the present to inspire our shared future.
The museum presents a wide range of exhibitions and public programs, including lectures, film, theater, festivals, family events, and music, and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach. BACK TO HOME PAGE.
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Throughout the year, the Autry also presents a wide range of public events and programs—including lectures, film, theater, festivals, family activities, and music—and performs scholarship, research, and educational outreach.
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