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Whitney Western Art Museum

Scott, Michael
oil on canvas 335
Painting 860
Buffalo Bill 103 peacock birds 78
H: 90.5 in, width: 61.75 in
The Menagerie
Credit Line:
Gift of The Alexander Bodini Foundation in memory of Alexander Bodini
Michael Scott is a contemporary artist who currently lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Scott finds inspiration for this subjects and style in history, art history, and the western landscape and people near his home. In "The Menagerie", Scott imagines Buffalo Bill as the caretaker for an exotic bird menagerie. Symbolism for each bird references the personality of Buffalo Bill, who stands as the "ring leader" of the birds in the painting. The peacock, for example, is associated with vanity and therefore reflects one quality of Buffalo Bill. But in addition, the peacock is difficult bird to manage, and the way in which Buffalo Bill controls the bird is a reflection of his stature and calm. Scott also positions Buffalo Bill and the birds on a stage-set surrounded by curtains. Many interpretations can be teased from this setting: Buffalo Bill pulling back the curtain behind his performances; or art and painting as a literal flat surface of paint, rather than a window into reality (pulling back the curtain on art). In addition, the composition and subject reference a major American 18th century painting by Charles Wilson Peale that depicted a self-portrait of the artist in his museum (the first museum in the United States).
signature, lower left: Michael Scott
Accession Number:

As of 06-14-2017 this object is on display in the Whitney Western Art Museum.
If you are making a special trip, please double-check before visiting.

Virtual Exhibits

Buffalo Bill in western art
Buffalo Bill in western art - Curated by Marguerite House

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initial list - Curated by

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