Best Material for the Artist in the World (Paperback)
This poetic biography tracks the life and career of landscape artist Albert Bierstadt, whose 19th-century representations of the American west earned him wealth and international acclaim. Relaying the story primarily through Bierstadt’s voice, this imaginative collection also includes perspectives from the painter’s family, friends, critics and patrons as it chronicles his youth in New Bedford, Massachusetts, his apprenticeship in Europe, his meteoric fame following western expeditions, and the emotional turbulence of diminished reputation due to changing cultural tastes. These narrative, lyric, and ekphrastic poems touch the momentum of the developing west, the devastation of native tribes and the great buffalo herds, as well as the resiliency of Bierstadt’s art in times of environmental awareness and expansionist reappraisal. Neither defense nor homage, The Best Material for the Artist in the World offers a balanced appreciation of an influential artist-explorer who gave us iconic, sometimes mythic views of our defining wilderness landscapes.
KENNETH CHAMLEE is the author of If Not These Things (Kelsay Books, 2022). His poems have appeared in The North Carolina Literary Review, Cold Mountain Review, The Worcester Review, Ocean State Review, Weber: The Contemporary West, and The Ekphrastic Review, among other places. He is Professor Emeritus of English at Brevard College in North Carolina and holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.