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In the Remington Moment

Stephen Tatum

Publication Year: 2010

For most people, the work of Frederic Remington conjures an antiquarian world of all things “western.” Why this is so, and whether it should be so, are two of the critical questions raised in this book. Stephen Tatum closely considers selected paintings from Remington’s last four years of life—his so-called years of critical acclaim. Tatum’s purpose is twofold: first, to understand these paintings, both formally and thematically, within their historical, aesthetic, and biographical contexts; and second, to account for what endows them today—after marking the centennial of Remington’s death in 1909—with continuing aesthetic and cultural significance. To this end, Tatum examines these late paintings in relation to Remington’s other works, his letters and published writings, his evolving critical reception, and the writing and artwork of other cultural figures of the era, such as historian Frederick Jackson Turner and sociologist Georg Simmel. The book provides an illuminating glimpse of how and why particular Remington works might seize a viewer’s attention in his or her past or present moment of reception—how in fact their unstable visual complexity can ultimately absorb their viewer. In his “Coda,” Tatum offers a personal memoir of his own encounter with Remington’s The Love Call, a critical meditation enacting and questioning the “Remington Moment.”

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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List of Illustrations

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pp. xi-xii

Acknowledgments

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pp. xv-xvii

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Introduction: In the Remington Moment

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pp. 1-26

Here then, one way to begin, to be in the act of and the moment in the painting. As Jean-Louis Schefer would have it, the value of painting — what either the activity itself or its material result on canvas is “good for” — accrues from its power of transformation rather than its power of representation per se. That is, painting with value does not so much “fix,” or embalm, certain colors...

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1. Looking at Water: On Coming to the Call (1905)

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pp. 27-72

In Frederic Remington’s nocturne Coming to the Call (1905) “the silent (though not imperceptible) signs” left on the canvas suggest that the end is near, right now and right here: a spit of land ends at the water’s edge; an autumn day ends as the sun now sets and as the shadows on the water now lengthen. And too: there is the imminent end of a prey animal’s life as a solitary hunter in a birchbark canoe, camouflaged by shadows, sights his rifle...

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2. Looking at Sky: On With the Eye of the Mind (1908)

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pp. 73-118

Writing an appreciative tribute for Scribner’s Magazine about Frederic Remington’s art in the wake of the painter’s death in December 1909, Royal Cortissoz judged that toward the end of Remington’s career “came a change, one of the most interesting noted in some years past by observers of American art. Mr. Remington suddenly drew near to the end of his long pull.”1 As Remington’s...

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3. Looking at Fire: On The Hunters' Supper (c. 1909)

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pp. 119-159

On the morning of 8 September 1908, a little less than two months before that year’s presidential race between William Howard Taft and William Jennings Bryan will be decided, Frederic Remington leaves his house in New Rochelle, New York, and begins what will be a weeklong journey by rail to Cody, Wyoming. Though he will make this long trip on his own, his plan...

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4. Looking at Earth: On The Outlier (1909)

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pp. 161-201

On 26 and 28 October 1909, approximately two months before his unexpected death from peritonitis caused by a burst appendix, Frederic Remington boxed up and shipped twenty-three of his most recent paintings — including The Hunters’ Supper — to the M. M. Knoedler & Company gallery in New York. For the next month or so Remington primarily worked on his big sculpture...

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Coda: In the Remington Moment, Part Two; or The Love Call

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pp. 203-222

In Peter Handke’s 1972 novel Short Letter, Long Farewell, looking at the “even, deep-yellow” light on a bare bedroom wall as night falls in a suburban St. Louis garden “makes you remember. . . . And the longer you look at [them], the further back you remember, till you reach a point where you can’t go any further. At that point you can only stand there and dream...

Notes

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pp. 223-242

Index

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pp. 243-252


E-ISBN-13: 9780803230385
E-ISBN-10: 0803230389
Print-ISBN-13: 9780803225282
Print-ISBN-10: 0803225288

Page Count: 280
Illustrations: 8 color plates, 34 b/w images
Publication Year: 2010

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Subject Headings

  • Remington, Frederic, 1861-1909 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Art and society -- United States.
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