The Amon Carter Museum of American Art (the Carter) is proud to present Mythmakers: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington, an exhibition that reveals unexpected resonances and moments of convergence between common themes, artistic sensibilities, and techniques used by acclaimed American artists Winslow Homer (1836–1910) and Frederic Remington (1861–1909) through more than 60 artworks. Mythmakers is organized by the Carter, the Denver Art Museum, and the Portland Museum of Art, Maine, and will be on view at the Carter from December 22, 2020, to February 28, 2021, concluding the exhibition’s national tour.
Born a generation apart, Homer and Remington were celebrated in similar ways by turn-of-the-century critics for uniquely capturing the quintessential American spirit of the period. This exhibition reveals how both were a product of their context, creating a sense of nostalgia in the face of the ravages of war, the displacement of Native people, and the rise of industrialization that they felt challenged traditional modes of masculinity and an imagined simpler past. While both artists achieved popular recognition during their lifetimes that has continued long after their deaths, the parallel mythologies surrounding these two artists have never been considered in depth due to the perceived differences in their subject matter.
“The dedication to the continued scholarship and exploration of American art is a core tenet of the Carter’s exhibition program,” stated Andrew J. Walker, Executive Director. “Mythmakers not only examines these two celebrated American artists presenting new ways in which we as the audience engage with their work, but it also further establishes the Carter’s position in the research and presentation of the foundations of American art.”
Bringing together famous works that rarely travel from museum collections across the country, Mythmakers compares and contrasts the artists’ iconic works, representing some of their best-known subjects while also focusing on underexplored aspects of their shared experiences within the broader context of events that shaped U.S. history. The works are further examined by experts outside the realm of art history, lending a critical lens to the investigations of the two artists, including audio and label content provided by a war veteran, photojournalist, several contemporary artists, the renowned historian of Black cowboys and the origins of country music, Dom Flemons, artist and former rancher Matt Kleberg, veteran organizer Doug Rawlings, and members of both the Mi’kmaq and Comanche Nations.
“While there is much to appreciate about the technical virtuosity of the collection of world-famous works assembled in this exhibition, there is also much to discuss in terms of the narratives each artist chose to perpetuate,” says Maggie Adler, Curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper at the Carter. “The exhibition starts with situating the artists in their historical context—as observers of the horrors of war and Native displacement, as urbanites with a hankering for experiences with nature lost to them in city life, as savvy brand managers, and as people approaching the brink of modernity with some anxiety. The title Mythmakers refers both to the myths surrounding these two artists’ reputations as well as the artistic license they used in representing the world around them, or worlds that were no longer in existence.
Organized thematically and chronologically, each section will feature key works displayed in one-on-one pairings, encouraging visitors to draw connections between the artists and the themes presented. The exhibition is organized into five sections:
- The Introduction presentsa historical timeline that puts both artists’ careers in context through artworks that represent the arc of their careers. This section highlights how their art has come to stand for a certain vision of American masculinity.
- The Artists as Illustrators presents both paintings and popular media from each artist’s time working for the journal Harper’s Weekly on the frontlines of wars, showing how the artists’ early experiences as war correspondents shaped their subsequent work, left emotional scars, and provided them with a practical, rather than a formal, education in art rooted in storytelling and a sense of directness.
- Up North addresses both artists’ deep roots in the wilderness of the Adirondacks, challenging the assumption that Remington was a westerner and reinforcing Homer’s status as an outdoorsman, despite his strong connections to city life.
- Opposing Forces illuminates the themes of man versus nature and, in some cases, man against man. The dramatic subjects in this section symbolically reflect the tumult of the post–Civil War era, which witnessed recurring market crashes, the attempted genocide of Indigenous peoples, labor conflicts, wealth inequality, and broader societal fears.
- The Finale examines the somber and psychological works produced by both artists at the pinnacle of their careers, coinciding with the rise of technology and disconnection from the land, reinforcing that they were not only painters of drama and conflict, but also used their knowledge of color and form to create works imbued with mystery and anxiety.
A 225-page exhibition catalog, published by the organizing museums and distributed by Yale University Press, will be available in the Carter’s Museum Shop and online at cartermuseum.org. An introduction by Adam Gopnik, staff writer for The New Yorker, is followed by essays by Adler and other national leading scholars including Claire Barry, Director of Conservation at the Kimbell Art Museum; Diana Greenwold, Associate Curator of American Art at the Portland Museum of Art; Jennifer Henneman, Associate Curator of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum; and Thomas Brent Smith, Curator of Western American Art and Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum.
Mythmakers: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington was awarded a $300,000 grant under the National Endowment for the Humanities’ “A More Perfect Union” initiative, which supports efforts to promote a deeper understanding of U.S. history and culture, and to advance civics education in preparation for the nation’s 250th anniversary in 2026. The exhibition is one of the 224 humanities projects honored with this gift.
Mythmakers is co-curated by a team of four curators, including the Carter’s Maggie Adler, Curator of Paintings, Sculpture, and Works on Paper; Diana Greenwold, Associate Curator of American Art at the Portland Museum of Art; Jennifer Henneman, Associate Curator of Western American Art; and Thomas Brent Smith, Curator of Western American Art and Director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the Denver Art Museum.
About the Amon Carter Museum of American Art
Located in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art (the Carter) is a dynamic cultural resource that provides unique access and insight into the history and future of American creativity through its expansive exhibitions and programming. Housed in a building designed by American architect Philip Johnson, the Carter’s preeminent collection includes masterworks by legendary American artists such as Ruth Asawa, Alexander Calder, Frederic Church, Stuart Davis, Robert Duncanson, Thomas Eakins, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jacob Lawrence, and John Singer Sargent, as well as one of the country’s foremost repositories of American photography.
In addition to its innovative exhibition program and engagement with artists working today, the museum’s premier primary research collection and leading conservation program make it a must-see destination for art lovers and scholars of all ages nationwide. Admission is always free. To learn more about the Carter, visit cartermuseum.org.