Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Remington, The Scout: Friends or Foes

Fredric Remington, The Scout: Friends or Foes, c1900

This is another beloved painting from The Clark.  It is very different from most work of Frederic Remington (1861-1909), which usually have a slightly cartoonish style and depict high-energy cowboy scenes, of which I am not the biggest fan.  But I love this painting.  Dominating the canvas is the figure of the scout on his horse.  They present the only real contrast to the vast white of the snow and the relatively similar sky.  This contrast is emphasized by the horse’s shadow behind them.  The starkest contrast is between the horse’s black body and the snow.  The shift is made more gradual by the horse’s white feet and nose but these also somehow make the contrast more striking.  The man on the horse is dressed in browns of a few shades and both he and his clothes seem out of place in this vast expanse.  He and the horse together cover all three plains of the painting, with his head crossing the sky and almost reaching the top of the canvas.  We see the footprints behind them and it seems clear that they have been traveling for a long time.  The settlement in the distance is brown like the scout’s clothes but it is so faint and could easily be missed when viewing the painting.  This seems to emphasize the ambiguity surrounding it.  The scout doesn’t know if it is safe to go there and neither does the viewer, in fact the viewer may not even be sure there’s anywhere to go.  I love the ambiguity the scene presents, and I think every element is simply beautiful.

No comments:

Post a Comment