Thursday, March 12, 2009

Places I Have Been: Alfred Jacob Miller SHOWTIME

I took the Kiddo and met Vee midday at the art museum again today since it was still pretty cold out, and we finally got to see an Alfred Jacob Miller exhibit I've been waiting to get to. They had a really interesting presentation of three versions of "The Trapper's Bride"

This is the original edition. Now check out the later edition:

It's like playing "One of these things is not like the other one": RACIST EDITION.

I'll spell out the big changes for you.
  • the guy on the horse (which changed to a grittier white) lost his headdress and just got one droopy feather, and the spear went from an antagonistic pointed-at-the-groom to being slung behind him (and a half-naked young hottie is now holding back the horse
  • another tepee was added, and the first tepee is now being constructed rather than being finished
  • the sky behind the tepee/Indian side became ominously dark (representing how the Indian bride is progressing from the "dark" to the "light")
  • the Americanized Indians by the tepee turned into a motley crew of natives
  • the guy offering the peace pipe to the groom (who was not even offering it to him in the first version) underwent a massive change from an older, passive man to a brazen young brave half-naked
  • the guy facilitating the "transfer" (the man with his hand on the bride's shoulder)'s hand went from openly passing between the bride and groom to holding back Peace Pipe Man
  • the groom's breeches went from leather to a more civilized broadcloth

There are more changes than that, but the thing is that there was a THIRD version bridging the gap between these two; I was FASCINATED by this and Vee had to leave me staring at them. I would say Kiddo cared, but she just wanted to keep crowing "A-da-da!" after Vee left.

WHAT WAS AJM SAYING WITH HIS LATER REVISION OF THIS PAINTING?

Discuss.

3 comments:

Rando said...

The hand of the woman-offerer was holding back peace pipe man because he wanted to see if intermarriage would be enough. And marriages undergone while intoxicated with peace pipe herb are void.

Shawn said...

Were these paintings "for" anyone or anything? Like were they commissioned for a collector or for a museum or something? What were the years of each of these pictures? Was AJM at all influenced by contemporary politics?

E. Langley said...

The second picture shows the half-completed teepee to allude to the fact that the natives were not firmly ensconced in their holdings nor justifiably "rooted" to their land and their eventual re-location further and further off their traditional lands and ultimately onto reservations was not so heinous since they were nomadic.