Spanning the eras, aquatic themes have always held a special fascination to artists. And George Caleb Bingham is certainly no exception. In Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River, which runs through January 18, 2015 at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, an invigorating focus is brought to the perennial, painterly subject matter of the river.

The show spotlights a highly manageable 16 paintings, and more broadly displayed 50 drawings, all of which have in common the single notion of the power and grace of the river. The exhibition is also a rare window into the artistic ferment of Bingham, who passed away in 1879, as his artistic expression was shape-shifting almost in lock-step with the country as a whole during an-ever-turbulent epoch. Through Bingham's studies of the great waterways of the country, he helped cast an important light on how they actually functioned -- often beating at the same tempo as the country's commercial and social pulse.

This show also exceptionally allows the patron a window into Bingham's particular creative process. In addition, and very much in keeping with the contemporary approach to art shows, the Carter also features an interactive section where the viewer can sketch various figures onto a blank canvas, as he or she perhaps hopes to ape the distinctive artistry of Bingham. As you can imagine, this is an exercise that is open to patrons of all ages.

Details: Navigating the West: George Caleb Bingham and the River is jointly organized by the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Saint Louis Art Museum. It runs through January 18, 2015, at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, 3501 Camp Bowie Boulevard in Fort Worth. More information:; 817-738-1933. Museum admission is free. 

George Bingham at Amon Carter Museum of American Art


[Photo Credits: George Caleb Bingham (1811–1879); Fur Traders Descending the Missouri, 1845; Oil on canvas; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York | The Jolly Flatboatmen, 1846; Oil on canvas; Manoogian Collection]