TEXAS READS: 'The Art of Texas'

The Art of Texas: 250 Years, edited by Ron Tyler (TCU Press, $60 hardcover).

The Art of Texas: 250 Years, edited by Ron Tyler, may well be the most spectacular Texas book published this year. Or any year, for that matter.

The 456-page full-color coffee table volume ($60 hardcover) is a joint project of TCU Press and the Center for Texas Studies at TCU and accompanies an exhibition at the Witte Museum in San Antonio. TCU Press promotes the book as “the first attempt to analyze and characterize Texas art on such a grand scale.” Certainly it belongs in the library of anyone serious about Texas art.

Fourteen Texas art historians and scholars contributed essays covering a wide range of topics related to art history in Texas, generously illustrated by about 400 paintings and other works of art. Each illustration includes a brief description giving the artist’s name, title of the piece, year it was created, medium and where it is today.

Tyler, the volume’s editor and retired director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, leads off the selections with The Art of Early Texas. A few other essays: The Texas Landscape by Susie Kalil; Hispanic Art in Texas by Richard Romo; Texas History Paintings by Sam Deshong Ratcliffe; Texas Impressionism by Rebecca Lawton; The Texas Scene is the American Scene by Francine Carraro; and Early African American Art in Texas by Scott A. Sherer.

Liberty and Lone Star Modernism by K. Robinson Edwards is the concluding piece, in which he makes the case for Georgia O’Keeffe as “Texas’s pioneer modernist.” O’Keeffe taught briefly in Texas early in her career and found inspiration in her frequent trips to Palo Duro Canyon. “She moved out of Texas permanently in 1918,” Edwards writes, “but the impact of her West Texas years affected her art for the rest of her long career.”

There’s a lot to read — and even more to see — in The Art of Texas: 250 Years, an impressive tribute to Texas artists.

A few years ago, Carlton Stowers and I put together a volume listing 101 Essential Texas Books. Certainly The Art of Texas would be a deserving addition to that list.


Glenn Dromgoole writes about Texas books and authors. Contact him at g.dromgoole@suddenlink.net.

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