For many, Charles M. Russell’s paintings epitomize life in the West. But in twentieth-century postwar Montana, an avant-garde art movement—Montana Modernism—brewed. Its pioneers— Jessie Wilber, Frances Senska, Bill Stockton, Isabelle Johnson, Robert DeWeese, and Gennie DeWeese—created a community and pedagogy where, in stark contrast to stereotypical romanticized western art and frontier history themes, modernist ideas and art flourished, expanding traditional definitions of Western art.
The first book solely devoted to the topic, Montana Modernists presents stunning artwork and illuminates a little-known art movement. Divided into three sections, Corriel’s exploration concentrates on place, teaching/artistic lineage, and community. The isolation, beauty, and complexity of their surrounding landscape served as a backdrop and influenced the lives and art of these ranchers, teachers, and professors. Next, Corriel traces artistic lineages to describe how each arrived at their particular artistic style. Community, the third section, offers a thorough study of their teaching styles, art techniques, and social gatherings to demonstrate how a thriving community of like-minded artists, writers, dancers, musicians, and philosophers opposed the grand narrative of the West, a movement that still resonates in contemporary Montana art.
Michele Corriel holds a Master’s in Art History and a PhD in American Studies/American Art from Montana State University, Bozeman. She has been an art writer for the last 17 years and is on the National Advisory Board for the Bozeman Art Museum.
“This book is singular, a milestone. It illuminates a precinct of western American art history that has been neglected by scholars up until now.”—Gordon McConnell, artist, writer, and Montana Governor’s Arts Award recipient
“Montana Modernists presents important biographical histories of six Montana artists for the first time in one book, and provides valuable context for understanding how modernism evolved in Montana from the influences of artists like Cezanne to the movements of Dada, cubism, abstract expressionism, and the Bauhaus.”—Steven Jackson, former curator of Art and Photography at the Museum of the Rockies
Illustrations / notes / bibliography / index / 10″ x 8″ / 180 pages (2022)
ISBN 978-0-87422-419-1 Paperback
A 2022 Montana Book Award honor selection!