The Old West: Myth, Character, and Reinvention
April 1–May 1, 2009
Held in conjunction with the exhibition Into the Sunset: Photography's Image of the American West and the film exhibition The West: Myth, Character, and Reinvention by Andy Warhol.
Embodying the American ideal of rugged individualism, Old West icons were (according to author Larry McMurtry) America's first superstars. Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, and others created their own characters, their evolving myths fueled by fervent interest on the part of a mass audience; as such, they were the precursors to such Hollywood transformations as Norma Jean Baker's metamorphosis into Marilyn Monroe, or Marion Morrison into John Wayne. The films in this exhibition demonstrate how cinematic representations of the Old West both create and adapt to our national mythology, and how cinema—specifically Hollywood, that ultimate destination in the new American West—glorifies this reinvention. All films are from the U.S.