Wheatgrass Books will host Michele Corriel, author of Montana Modernists: Shifting Perceptions of Western Art, for a book talk & presentation, book signing, and reception Saturday, February 18th at 3 pm.
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 fully 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.