Art Showcase

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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Old West

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Kansan, The – limited edition print

Limited Edition Print

Image Size: 20" x 25-1/2" • Overall Size: 28-7/8" x 23-7/8"
Signed and Numbered • Edition Size: 300
Signed Artist's Proof • Edition Size: 60

This is a 9 color lithograph. The artist created the plates for the edition by drawing directly onto a textured mylar surface with a variety of substances including ink, stabilo pencils and lithographic crayon. These completed hand-drawn mylars were then chemically transferred onto positive-working emulsion-coated aluminum lithographic plates at The American Atelier in New York City. From these plates proofs were pulled, corrected and approved by the artist.

The entire edition was then pulled under the supervision of master printer Mauro Guiffreda at The American Atelier in New York City.

Each print in the edition was hand signed in pencil by the artist at The American Atelier in New York City, October 1976.

Historical Information

Perhaps the most remarkable feature of American history is its telescopic quality. Changes, transformations, which in the Old World took centuries, in America overlap: thus the swift transition from wilderness to civilization, from a primitive to a highly sophisticated culture, from the overlapping of frontiers - the white and the Indian, the agricultural and the hunting, the industrial and the agricultural; thus the overlapping, too, of ethnic groups - the English, the Irish, the German, the Swedish, the Italian, the Polish, the Negro, the Jewish, and the Oriental. An awareness of the transitory character of any American experience permeated Owen Wister’s novel, The Virginian, with its subtitle, “The Horseman of the Plains,” perhaps the most popular novel in the first decade of the century. We do not think of Virginians as cattlemen nor would we expect the re-creation of frontier Wyoming to come from a Philadelphia aristocrat, educated at Harvard and in Paris. Nor would we expect such a novel to be dedicated to that Knickerbocker aristocrat, Theodore Roosevelt. But Owen Wister lived in Wyoming and Roosevelt was himself, for a while, a cattle rancher in the Dakota country.

Wister draws our attention to the transitory nature of so much of the American experience by his words describing his own novel. It depicts: a vanished world. No journeys save those which memory can take, will bring you to it now. The mountains are there, and the infinite earth, and the air that seems forever the eternal fountain of youth - but where are the buffalo and the wild antelope and where the horseman with his pasturing thousands? So like his old self does the sage brush seem when revisited, that you wait for the horseman to appear. But he will never come again. He rides in his historic yesterday. You will no more see him gallop out of the unchanging silence than you will see Columbus on the unchanging sea. . . What has become of the horseman, the cow puncher, the last romantic figure upon our soil? What indeed, but that he now lives in the imagination of the novelist, the film producer and the painter.

Mort Künstler's Comments

This painting was used as the cover illustration for a book called The Kansan, although the tree and rocks are actually from the area around Cody, Wyoming.


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2020. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.