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‘Wrangling Inspiration’ Artists Roping in Cowboy Culture
Exploring the Wild West in the art world
Art Stuff 23 Apr 2024

In a cultural landscape where the latest celebrity romance or chart-topping album often dominates the headlines, it’s intriguing to witness the simultaneous resurgence of the phenomenon of cowboy culture. As Beyoncé’s latest album and Bella Hadid’s latest style inspired by her new beau capture the spotlight, it’s evident that alongside these contemporary icons, the rugged allure of the cowboy is riding back into the limelight.

Here, we explore the unexpected resurgence of cowboy culture and its newfound popularity amidst the glitz and glamour of today’s celebrity-driven zeitgeist by showcasing artists who have been heavily inspired by the theme.

Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol, an iconic figure in the Pop Art movement, found inspiration in the allure of cowboy culture across many of his artworks. Warhol’s exploration of the cowboy motif wasn’t merely a superficial engagement with a cultural icon; instead, it delved into the deeper layers of American mythology and identity.

Jim Krantz

Krantz is a photographer whose work often explores the imagery of the American West, including cowboys and ranch life. His photographs capture the ruggedness and spirit of the cowboy lifestyle in a modern context.

Jose DávilaUntitled (Cowboy), 2023 archival pigment print © Jose Dávila Photograph Brica Wilcox. Courtesy: the artist and Sean Kelly, New York/Los Angeles

Jose Dávila

Jose Dávila intricately explored cowboy imagery in his captivating cut-out works for his show ‘Photographic Memory’ on view in the Sean Kelly Gallery in Los Angeles earlier this year. Drawing inspiration from Richard Prince’s influential Untitled (cowboy) series and the iconic American West, Dávila challenged artistic norms, probing the essence of photography and the power of negative space in today’s image-driven society. Through his transformative process, he interrogated originality, appropriation, and the truth behind an image, while inviting viewers to reimagine the cowboy archetype.

Luis Tapia

Tapia is a sculptor known for his intricate wood carvings that often depict scenes from cowboy culture. His work blends traditional techniques with contemporary themes, offering a unique perspective on the cowboy archetype.

Donna Howell-Sickles

Howell-Sickles is a contemporary artist known for her bold and colorful paintings that often feature cowgirls and women in cowboy attire. Her work celebrates the strength and independence of women in the Western tradition.

Edward Ruscha

Ruscha is a prominent American artist associated with the Pop Art movement. He is known for his paintings, drawings, and prints that often feature elements of American culture, including imagery inspired by the Western landscape, Hollywood, and roadside signage. His work offers a unique perspective on the visual language of the American West.

Jeff Bridges

While primarily known as an actor, Jeff Bridges is also a talented photographer who has published books featuring his images of the American West. His photographs often capture the essence of cowboy life, showcasing the landscapes, people, and culture of the region.

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