Howard Terpning, the most celebrated contemporary artist of the American West, was born in Oak Park, Illinois and studied at the Chicago Academy and the American Academy of Art. He made his name as a commercial artist in Chicago and New York and his posters for classic Hollywood movies, including The Sound of Music have become part of American film culture. When Winchester Arms hired him, Terpning rediscovered his first love: Native Americans and the West and he threw himself into the history and culture. Plains Indians, in particular, fascinated him and in 1975, he gave up his lucrative career in commercial art and headed west, settling in Tucson to answer his true vocation as a painter in the grand tradition of Catlin and Bodmer, Remington and Russell. Like them, Terpning combines superb draftsmanship, authenticity as regards the material cultures of the Plains peoples, and a storyteller’s gift. Not strictly realistic, Terpning’s technique–his way of containing a beautifully drawn figure within swirls and slashes of colors– illuminates the action and alludes to inner strength, memory, and turmoil, externalizing the drama for us to feel and see.
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