The Denver Public Library owns over 1,500 original pieces of western art which includes paintings, drawings, photographs, and sculptures. When many people think of the art of the western US, they think stoic cowboys and open fields filled with wild grasses. While we do have many pieces exhibiting these styles, we also have many abstract and contemporary pieces by western artists. Here are some examples of prolific modern western artists represented in our collection.
Up Thirteenth Avenue from the Central Library is the Vance Kirkland Museum which houses design and 2D works from the modern artist, but few Denverites realize the library also owns 15 pieces by Kirkland. Through his career Kirkland's style evolved from realism to surrealism to abstract. Kirkland lived in Denver from 1929 until his death in 1981, while here he created many murals in Colorado. DPL owns a gouache painting of a proposed mural for the Denver Public Library as well as several other paintings of planned murals.
James Russell Sherman was another artist who lived in the Denver area during the middle of the 20th century. Sherman lived in Capitol Hill and made many drawings and paintings of western scenes using bright bold colors. In addition to western themes Sherman also did paintings campaigning against drunk driving. He painted the image seen above titled "Fool's Souvenir" inspired by an accident he witnessed in the Colorado foothills. There are 22 of his pieces in our Western Art Collection, keep your eye out for a retrospective exhibit of Sherman's work coming in May to Level 5.
Herndon Richard Davis is known in Colorado for his painting of a woman's face on the barroom floor of Teller House in Central City. In addition to murals and portraits, Davis was also a talented illustrator. In our Western Art Collection we have several of his illustrations, each with a title that seems to begin a story.
The Denver Public Library has over 1,500 pieces of original art in our western art collection. Be sure to also read our research guide for browsing our art collection. Prints of many of the artworks in our collection can be purchased here. You can also make an appointment to view many of the pieces by calling the Western History / Genealogy reference desk (720) 865-1821.