251 Dance of Four Lances

Category Western Americana
Auction Currency USD
Start Price NA
Estimated at 40,000.00 - 50,000.00 USD
Dance of Four Lances
Artist: Riley, KennethDate of Birth: b. 1919
Medium: Oil & Acrylic
Dimensions: 17 1/2 x 14 inches
Signed: Signed lower right

Ken Riley was born in Missouri in 1919. He loved both music and art, played the drums and painted. But art sunk its hooks deep, and he soon found himself studying, first in Kansas City with Thomas Hart Benton, then in New York with George Bridgman and Harvey Dunn. When the Second World War broke out, Riley put his talents to work as a combat artist stationed on the U.S.S. Middleton, a converted commercial liner that saw a great deal of action in the Pacific Theater as an attack transport. After the war, Riley made a name for himself in illustration, spending the next quarter of a century producing work for The Saturday Evening Post, National Geographic, Life, and a host of other periodicals. In 1960, on assignment for The Society of Illustrators, Riley visited Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons and the germ of a career move began to sprout. Eventually, he moved to Tucson and set his sights on becoming an easel painter. His subject? The landscape and history of the American West. IllustrationÕs loss was Western ArtÕs gain. Riley never looked back, and we have never looked away. As for accolades, he was a founding member of the National Academy of Western Art in 1973 and has been a member of the Cowboy Artists of America since 1982, He has won every important award in the field, including Best of Show in the Cowboy Artists of America exhibition and the Prix de West. His paintings can be found in important public and private collections across the nation and around the world, including the White House, the Smithsonian Institution, the Booth Western Art Museum, and the Phoenix Art Museum. When he made the moved from illustration, Riley adapted his skills, developing a signature style in Western Art that owes something to classical bas-relief sculpture, Renaissance fresco, and the mural tradition, as evidenced in the Preface to the book, West of Camelot: The Historical Paintings of Kenneth Riley, by art historian Susan Hallsten McGary: ÒRiley uses the past as inspiration and then passes through it to personal revelation about the harmony and perfection to be found in the human condition. On the pediments of the Parthenon and on the ceilings and walls of Renaissance churches we find the classical ideal Kenneth Riley portrays in the guise of a legendary Indian shaman named Manabozho.Ó Even in smaller works and in the small studies he paints that inspire him to build major paintings, RileyÕs unerring sense of design creates a stillness, an air of myth and legend. With a few changes, Study for Dog Dancers and Dance of Four Lances might be found carved in stone on the side of a Mayan or Hindu temple or on the walls of a tomb in Egypt or Mycenae. In Study for Dog Dancers Riley limits his palette and fills the frame with overlapping figures in shallow relief. In Dance of Four Lances, the lances themselves circle the dancer, becoming animated partners in spirit. RileyÕs approach focuses our eyes and accentuates the drama of the religious pageants. This kind of attention to craft, demonstrating the breadth of his artistic and historical education is what makes Ken Riley the through line between the early masters of the West, the Golden Age of American Illustration and the contemporary Western Art scene. He is inimitable and indispensable.