D e n m a n S t u d i o s
Showcasing the Art of
A n d r e w D e n m a n


Available from Denman Studios

Available from These Fine Galleries

Available at Special Events

Limited Edition Reproductions

Archive of Previous Work

Solo Touring Show: The Modern Wild

About the Artist


Purchasing Information

News & Events

Teaching & Workshops


Commission Policy


Newsletter & Mailing List


Linked In

Bison Pattern by Andrew Denman <Back to Thumbnails "American Grit"
36 x 36"
Acrylic on Cradled Board

How to Buy, General Information

This piece explores the Bison as a symbol of the American West, both from the Native American viewpoint, as a fellow being and vital resource for life on the plains, and the Caucasian settlers, for whom it became an emblem of Manifest Destiny and mastery over nature. Paradoxically, it was the very vanishing of the frontier and “taming” of the West that lead, in large part, to the popularization of wildlife, western, and sporting art. The very things Americans once sought to master (and in some cases exterminate) became the subject of nostalgia, a wistful idealization of a challenging but invigorating past.

“American Grit” evolved out of my “Pattern” series, in which animal subjects are pitted against a stamp-like, mass produced image. In this piece, however, rather than being presented in front of a patterned background, the Bison are melded into the background pattern itself, a breakthrough shift in style I first achieved with a similar composition focusing on hedgehogs, and later ravens. In its original inception, the Pattern series explored the notion of the commodification of wildlife (focusing mostly on livestock animals), reproductive capacity, and the ubiquity of common animals (especially urban wildlife). “American Grit” has some overlap with all of these concepts, but with a subtle but unavoidably political/historical edge. Removing the animal subject from its natural habitat and recontextualizing it in a non-objective space is meant to force the viewer to consider the subject differently than he otherwise might. The use of non-objective color and pattern further serve to pull the animal out of context. The stamp-like, repeated form alludes to the vast number of these highly successful animals that once dominated the Great Plains of the American West, a ubiquity that caused Caucasian settlers to take them for granted as an infinite resource. Even within this sea of colors, the two representationally “realistic” Bison almost become lost. The entry of one such Bison from the left side of the painting and the exit of the other half of its body to the right lends the image a suggestion of constant, repetitive motion like an old-fashioned zoetrope, another nod to the era of the Old West.

The Bison itself is a powerful symbol, but it becomes even more emblematic of a time in history when coupled with the American flag and the stern silhouettes of cowboys. In other parts of the composition, Navajo-inspired abstract patterns provide a backdrop for Native American silhouettes, a very deliberate nod to the huge role that the extermination of the Bison played in the subjugation of the Tribes who relied on them for food and clothing. In the upper-right-middle portion of the composition, a dream-catcher hangs in front of the profile of the Grand Tetons, promising better days ahead for all of us, the Bison included.

Welcome to the online home for artwork by Andrew Denman, a California –based, internationally recognized, award-winning contemporary wildlife artist. Denman primarily paints wildlife and animal subjects in a unique, hallmark style combining hyper-realism with stylization and abstraction. His dynamic and original acrylic paintings can be found in museum collections on two continents and in numerous private collections in the USA and abroad. His clear voice, unique vision, and commitment to constant artistic experimentation have positioned him on the forefront of an artistic vanguard of the best contemporary wildlife and animal painters working today.
All artwork and text featured on this page and throughout this website is protected by international copyright laws. Use of these images or text is prohibited without the express written permission of Andrew Denman.