"See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have"
WILLIAM H. GOETZMANN *
Collecting the West: The C. R. Smith Collection of Western American Art. By
Richard H. Saunders. (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1988.
Pp. 212. Foreword, preface, color plates, notes, bibliography, in-
The American West: Legendary Artists of the Frontier. By Rick Stewart with
Don Hedgepeth. (Dallas: Hawthorne Publishing Co., 1986. Pp. 235.
Foreword, preface, introduction, color plates, bibliography. $85.)
Frontier Spirit: Catalog of the Collection of the Museum of Western Art. By
William Foxley (Denver, Colo.: Museum of Western Art, 1983.
Pp. 189. Preface, color plates, notes, bibliography, index. $90.)
As artistic fads from the Hudson River School of "romantic realism"
to the New York School of Abstract Expressionism come and go, one
American artistic tradition seems to have sustained itself throughout
most of the nation's history-the depicting of the western or frontier
experience. Often scorned by European-oriented critics in America as
"mere illustration," the works of men and women who painted, drew,
and sculpted aspects of the great West have in William Faulkner's words
"endured" and often, as in the present, "prevailed."' In the last five or
six years, and probably more, major exhibitions of western art and one
television series on the subject have gained national prominence. Mean-
while, exhibitions of western art, including modern Native American
works, have been a sensation in major museums in Paris, Berlin, and
other European art meccas. The three books under consideration in
* William H. Goctzmann holds thc Jack Blanton Chair in American History at the University
of Texas at Austin. He is the author of numerous works Including the Pulitzer Prize-winning
Exploraton and Empire (1966). He authored the award-winning PBS series "The West of the
Imagination" and coauthored the book of the same title (1986) with his son, William N.
''The early twentieth-century critic, Samuel Isham, who, with Royal Cortissoz, wrote The Hu-
tory of Amercan Pantng (New York. Macmillan Publishing Co., 1927), declared that painters of
the American West were more interested in "subject than the purely artistic qualities displayed
Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 93, July 1989 - April, 1990. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101213/. Accessed February 10, 2016.