Great Plains Studies, Center for


Date of this Version

Spring 2008


Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 2, Spring 2008, pp. 162-63.


Copyright 2008 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.


In the late 1940s, the wealthy Tulsa oilman Thomas Gilcrease collected western art he believed best told the story of America. His unwavering determination led him to collect more than 100,000 objects, which became the founding collection of the Gilcrease Museum.

This beautifully designed volume, which accompanied an exhibition at the Gilcrease in 2006, features the work from the museum's collection by well-known and lesser-known artists who were lured west following Lewis and Clark's epochal expedition, eager to portray the land and peoples of the exotic terra incognita that was now in America.

While this story of exploration and discovery is not new, the strength-and appeal-of this volume is in author Gary Allen Hood's fresh and engaging discussion of the ability of early western art "to both aesthetically and historically describe the time in which it was created," a tribute to Gilcrease's belief in western art's quintessentially American story while showing how the art has shaped fundamental ideas about America.