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Indepth Arts News:

"Carl Rungius: Artist, Sportsman"
2001-04-08 until 2001-06-17
Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum
Wausau, WI, USA United States of America

The Woodson Art Museum is the first American venue for the exhibition, which is drawn from the extensive Rungius holdings of the Glenbow Museum in Calgary, Alberta, and other institutional and private collections. Included in the exhibition are 111 canvases, 22 works on paper, 7 sculptures, and more than 300 cultural objects, such as brushes, paints, tools, letters, diaries, and photographs, many of which will be installed in a re-creation of The Paint Box, the Banff studio where Rungius spent over 20 summers.

A native of Germany, Carl Clemens Moritz Rungius studied at several art academies, where he found himself drawn to the work of European animal artists who combined an impressionistic painting style with the European sporting art tradition.

To many Europeans of the late 19th century, America represented a land of plenty with boundless opportunities for hunting, an image fueled by popular Wild West novels and the writings of authors such as James Fenimore Cooper. In 1894 Rungius leapt at the chance to visit an uncle in the United States, and he immigrated to the United States a year later. From his base in New York, he made frequent hunting and sketching trips to Maine and New Brunswick - and eventually extended his forays to the Rocky Mountain region.

Rungius quickly became enamored of the striking colors, bold landscapes, and wild animals of the American West. He established a summer studio in Banff in 1922, and he maintained a New York studio, where he spent his winters painting large-scale canvases based on his extensive summer fieldwork. In New York Rungius was active in the city’s art circles, where he saw and absorbed new techniques and ideas such as the impressionists’ color theory.

Active in the first half of the 20th century, Rungius is important today because he was an innovator - the first career wildlife artist in America. An avid sportsman, he spent time in the wilderness to enhance his knowledge of animals and environments. His gorgeous, impressionistic paintings combine both landscapes and wildlife, and represent an idyllic world where the human imprint on the landscape is invisible. Rungius places his mammals in loosely sketched settings of open vistas and bright skies that reflect his hunting and painting trips to Wyoming, Alaska, and the Canadian Rockies.

At a time when wilderness was fast disappearing, Rungius presented an image of the Wild and the West that seemed timeless for the viewers and hunters dedicated to preserving it. Carl Rungius: Artist, Sportsman explores the artist's friendships with many of North America's most important early conservationists. His animal art appealed to the leaders among the naturalists, and he was the preferred artist for journals such as Forest and Stream and Outing. Rungius's artistic goals - to create a unified whole, where the animal and its environment were equally important - echo the basic principles guiding wildlife conservation.

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