The Artist: Howard Terpning
Quite simply, Howard Terpning is one of the most lauded painters of Western art. His awards are so numerous and he is honored with them so often, that to list them would require changing the count every few months. To name three would be to cite the highest prizes awarded to Western art: countless awards from the Cowboy Artists of America, the Hubbard Art Award for Excellence, the National Academy of Western Art’s Prix de West and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gene Autry Museum.
Why such praise? Passion, compassion, devotion and respect for his subject matter, extraordinary talent in palette and brushstroke, an exceptional ability to evoke emotion both in his paintings and from those viewing them — all this and more has made Terpning the "Storyteller of the Native American."
The secondary market for Terpning’s fine art editions is unlike any other. The Giclee Canvas of The Force of Nature Humbles All Men has sold for over $27,000.00 from an initial release price of $2,450.00. Ownership of one of his originals has surpassed the $1,900,000.00 mark.
Yet, for all his laurels Howard Terpning is a man of honor and humility. Acclaim is not the reason collectors eagerly anticipate the arrival of each new work. They treasure something more valuable than awards, something of both personal meaning and objective worth: a desire to keep alive the heritage and culture of Native Americans through the power of art itself.
“The American Indian fascinates me,” says Terpning. “The more I study them, the more intrigued I become. Their culture and artifacts, their horses, the way they looked … there’s always another story waiting to be told. I feel privileged to be one of their storytellers. I could paint two lifetimes without running out of subject matter. I think it’s important to tell the story of the Plains Indians because their history is our history … part of our heritage. The history of the West is the only history America has that is uniquely our own.”
Born in Illinois and educated at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the American Academy of Art, he first gained attention from some powerful Time and Newsweek covers. Film fans praised his movie posters for such classics as The Sound of Music, Dr. Zhivago and the re-issue of Gone with the Wind.
His first book, The Art of Howard Terpning won the Wrangler "Outstanding Art Book" award from the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. Spirit of the Plains People, his second book, was released in 2001 in conjunction with a one-man show at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art. A third, Tribute to the Plains People, was released in 2012 to celebrate his retrospective at The Autry National Center in Los Angeles.