Image & Imagination:
Art of the American West
The imagination of man is naturally sublime, delighted with whatever is remote and extraordinary,
and running, without control, into the most distant parts of space and time
in order to avoid the objects, which custom has rendered too familiar to it.

David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding, 1777
Artists and photographers working in the American West
created images that were often accepted as documentation of these previously
unseen landscapes and native peoples.
This exhibition invites the viewer to revisit some of these images
while considering the voices of the time that express a variety of opinions on the progress of western development and provide a thought-provoking, often poignant counterpoint to the visual interpretations of the west.
Documenting Westward Expansion St. Louis, Missouri, Broadway Avenue, in the Illustrated London News, May 1, 1858 As America expanded westward, artists provided images that would make these unexplored regions and frontier cities visible to an eager audience in the East.
Revealing an Unseen Landscape J.R. Meeker, View on the Meramec River, 1872 Newly discovered western landscapes inspired awe and wonder in the artists who depicted them and became symbols of Manifest Destiny for the American audience that viewed them.
Portraying the Native American Oscar Berninghaus, Return to the Pueblo,1917 From Charles M. Russell's dramatic sculptures to the photographs of Edward Curtis, artists have presented very different perspectives on Native American life.

Note: The St. Louis Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri - St. Louis holds an extensive collection of nineteenth century western travel diaries and writings on westward expansion. Please see the Library′s homepage for information about visiting or research.