Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Buffalo Dance by Karl Ferdinand Wimar (1828-1862)

From Europe to the Atlantic coast of America & on to the Pacific coast during the 17C-19C, settlers moved West encountering a variety of Indigenous Peoples who had lived on the land for centuries.
Karl Ferdinand Wimar (1828-1862 a painter of the American West was also known as Charles Wimar & Carl Wimar) The Buffalo Dance

The Buffalo Dance, or Bison Dance, was an annual dance festival of many North American Plains Indians, including the Mandan, Sioux, Cheyenne, Pawnee, & Omaha, among others. The festival traditionally coincided with the return of the buffalo herds, & included a feast & a dance with a number of men wearing buffalo & other animal skins.As the buffalo, or bison, was so central to society, it was important to assure the return of the herd & an abundance of food & resources. It is notable for being one of the earliest films made featuring Native Americans. The Buffalo Dance can also refer to section of larger ceremonies & dances, such as the Sun Dance. In some Native American tribes, societies it was also a dance more associated with curing the ill, calling on the spirit of the buffalo.

A German-born immigrant to the United States, Charles Wimar was fascinated by the American frontier, Wimar focused during this period on images of indiginous American conflicts with settlers, in particular the theme of captivity & abduction. This theme appeared widely in the popular literature & visual arts of the 18C & 19C, in which it was fashionable to mythologize the struggles of the frontier with exotic portrayals of the West & Native Americans. When he died from tuberculosis at the age of 34, he left about 50 paintings. In 1843, he traveled to St. Louis, a fur-trading frontier town at the time. Between 1846 & 1850, he was apprenticed to the artist Leon de Pomarede, & accompanied him on a journey up the Mississippi, to St. Anthony Falls in Minnesota. In 1852, Wimar returned to Germany; & for 4 years, he studied with with Emmanuel Leutze & Josef Fay in Düsseldorf. After his return to the United States, Wimar took several journeys up the Mississippi River and, in 1858, up the Yellowstone River – documented in various sketchbooks. Wimar's paintings, like others of the time, reinforced notions of Native Americans as savage & white settlers as cultivated & divinely ordained - a notion that helped justify white colonization of the West.