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Wild West

Plains to the Pacific

Jun 18, 2016Sep 11, 2016

Mined from the wide-ranging collections of the Fine Arts Museums, Wild West explores artistic responses to the natural and cultivated landscapes of the western United States from the frontier era to the present. The exhibition features paintings, sculptures, prints, drawings, photographs, historical artifacts, and ephemera in a thematic presentation that celebrates the abundance and diversity within the region’s physical environment. This is a companion exhibition to Ed Ruscha and the Great American West.

The American frontier has long existed in the popular imagination as a land of unlimited promise and potential. As the landscape has been reshaped throughout history by prospectors, loggers, farmers, and urban developers, generations of artists have also invented and re-envisioned it in their works to fit the preoccupations of their times. Images of the land’s exploitation contrast with those that document the natural beauty and unique geological features of the region, including depictions of the Western national parks.

Included in Wild West are works by Albert Bierstadt, Maynard Dixon, Ester Hernández, Thomas Moran, Eadweard Muybridge, Chiura Obata, Bill Owens, Frederic Remington, Ed Ruscha, Fritz Scholder, Michael Schwab, Wayne Thiebaud, Carleton Watkins, Emmi Whitehorse, and other artists, whose diverse range of approaches to the theme contribute to a multifaceted picture of the American West.

Learn more about Wild West on the museum blog


Seniors 65+
College students with valid ID
17 and under

Tickets to Wild West: Plains to the Pacific at the Legion of Honor include same-day general admission to the de Young museum in Golden Gate Park. Groups of 10 or more have access to priority booking, discounted tickets, and private tours. Learn more.

Exhibition Highlights

Chiura Obata, "Setting Sun on Sacramento Valley, California", 1930. Color woodcut, 15 5/8 x 10 15/16 in. (39.7 x 27.7 cm) (image). FAMSF, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts, 1963.30.3126.30
Eadweard Muybridge, Wm. H Seward, "85 Feet in Circumference. Mariposa Grove of Mammoth Trees, No. 51", 1872. Albumen silver print mounted to card stock, 16 15/16 x 21 9/16 in. (43 x 54.7 cm) (image). FAMSF, gift of Mrs. Raymond Perkins, 42854.1
Peter Hurd, "A Ranch on the Plains", 1954. Tempera on hardboard, 29 3/4 x 47 1/8 in. (75.6 x 119.7 cm). FAMSF, gift of the California Brewing Company, 54.37
Ester Hernandez, "Sun Mad", 1982. Color screenprint on paper, 22 x 17 in. FAMSF, museum purchase, Judge George Henry Cabaniss and Harriet Howell Cabaniss Memorial Fund
Emmi Whitehorse, "Nature Makes A Leap V", 1993. Pastel and oil on paper and canvas. Gift from the Harriet and Maurice Gregg Collection of American Abstract Art 2006.10.3
William Hahn, "Sacramento Railroad Station", 1874. Oil on canvas , 53 3/4 x 87 3/4 in. (136.5 x 222.9 cm). FAMSF, museum purchase, M. H. de Young Endowment Fund, 54936
Michael Schwab, "Muir Woods", from a series of posters for the Golden Gate National Parks, 1995. Color screenprint, 28 3/4 x 22 1/16 in. (73 x 56 cm). FAMSF, gift of the artist in memory of Paul and Ellie Traugh, 1999.85.37


This exhibition is organized by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Benefactor’s Circle: Mr. and Mrs. Charles Crocker.