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    Description

    DAVE MCGARY (American, b. 1958)
    Four Bears, 1991
    Bronze with patina and paint
    28-1/2 x 17 x 10 inches (72.4 x 43.2 x 25.4 cm)
    Ed. 10/30
    Signed, numbered, and dated on base: Dave McGary 10/30 1991

    One of the premiere living artists of the American West, Wyoming native Dave McGary has brought to life the history of the Plains Indians through his realistic and humanistic painted bronze sculptures. The noted Western art scholar Michael Duty summarizes McGary's acclaim:

    As a visual historian, McGary succeeds very well. Compared to his contemporaries and in fact to past artists of this century and the last, his work provides more information and is more accurate than many other examples of historically based art in the marketplace. Even without the detailed stories provided on the people behind each work, the viewer can gain a wealth of knowledge about the actual lives of these individuals, even down to their day to day activities, by looking at the clues and details provided in dress and possessions. McGary knows his subjects well and he presents that knowledge in a straightforward and factual style. In terms of casting precision, in the technology used to produce his work, he has no contemporary equal.¹

    McGary's training in realist techniques dates to his teens, when he won a scholarship to travel to Italy and study anatomy and the Renaissance technique of lost-wax casting with the American sculptor Harry Jackson. During the 1980s, while working at a Santa Fe foundry, McGary befriended several students at the Institute of American Indian Arts, who invited him to a Sun Dance ceremony on a Lakota Sioux reservation, the first of many experiences exposing him Native American culture. McGary interprets his subjects with the understanding of an "insider" and with exacting craftsmanship - modeling the human form from a skeletal armature, casting multiple pieces for each sculpture, shaping historically accurate costumes and accessories, and applying paints and patinas to accentuate textures.

    McGary has received numerous awards and commissions: during the 1990s, he executed a portrait of the founder of Santa Fe; participated in a one-man show at the Russell Senate Rotunda in Washington, D.C.; exhibited by selection at the United Nations' "Art and the Earth" program; and completed a monumental sculpture of eight running horses for the Hubbard Museum of the American West in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico. More recent notable works include three portraits of the legendary Shoshone warrior and peacemaker Chief Washakie (installed in the U.S. Capitol; Wyoming State Capitol; and Arapaho Complex, Fort Washakie) and Emergence of the Chief, depicting a Mohawk clan mother instructing a new chief on his future duties (Concordia University, Montreal). McGary's sculptures are featured in numerous other permanent collections, such as those of the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.; Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis; Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody; Autry National Center, Los Angeles; and Musée McCord, Montreal.

    Four Bears
    , a portrait of the famous nineteenth-century Mandan chief and member of the elite Dog Society, exemplifies McGary's virtuoso handling of different realist techniques. Employing his usual painstaking sculpting process - before casting, building an armature onto which clay layers of skeleton, muscle and skin, and clothing are added - McGary positions Four Bears in a contrapposto stance reminiscent of the classical sculpture he studied in Italy. In addition, he references period images of Four Bears, both Karl Bodmer's prints and George Catlin's paintings, which depicted the chief in his ceremonial garments and ermine headdress with split buffalo horns. Here, Four Bears's proud yet dejected expression suggests a far more complex persona than the noble savage stereotype advanced by these early Western artists. Indeed, it is McGary's unique perspective - viewing Native American life as a historian and a participant in tribal ceremonies - that best allows him to "make real" figures from the past.

    ¹M. Duty, Dave McGary: American Realism in Bronze, Ruidoso, 1997, p. 79.


    Condition Report*: Excellent condition.
    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Some condition issues may not be noted in the condition report but are apparent in the provided photos which are considered part of the condition report. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

    Auction Info

    Auction Dates
    July, 2009
    16th Thursday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 1
    Lot Tracking Activity: N/A
    Page Views: 3,236

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