Artists of the American West: Explorers, naturalists, and unexpected conservationists
While major changes were occurring in America at the close of the nineteenth century, artists were busy recording the magnificent resources of this land. This thesis explores the culturally diverse times during which they accomplished this. It considers the contributions they made toward conserving Western culture, landscape, and wildlife through a study of their art and, in particular, it examines the impact that photography had on the portrayal of animals in art. Many artists and photographers were actively pursuing nature as subject matter, a quest which grew eminently more important as they witnessed pristine landscapes becoming irrevocably scarred and great numbers of wildlife being extirpated. Impressionism, as well, provided a new avenue of expression for artists documenting America's transition and her fleeting natural resources. Art and photography were catalysts that brought new perspectives to this country, and they triggered an urgency toward the initiation of the modern conservation movement.