Simpson Gallagher Gallery

Harry Jackson

Harry Jackson

Harry Jackson

Artist Harry Jackson was born in Chicago in 1924 and in his early teens began taking art classes on a scholarship at the Art Institute of Chicago. Inspired by a February 1937 photo spread in Life magazine about Wyoming's cowboy lifestyle, he hitchhiked to Wyoming at the age of fourteen and worked as a ranch hand in Cody. He soon became a cowboy and began drawing the western scenes that he encountered. In 1942, Jackson enlisted in the Marines and became a sketch artist for the Fifth Amphibious Corps during WWII. War injuries earned him two Purple Hearts and an Honorable discharge in 1945.

In the spring of 1946, he relocated to New York City and began painting in the abstract expressionist style having been greatly influenced by his friend, Jackson Pollack. Jackson's travels to Europe in the early 1950s inspired him to transition from abstract painter to realist artist. In the 1960s, a Fulbright Scholarship and Italian government grants allowed Jackson to travel and study extensively in Italy. It was during this time that he learned to sculpt in bronze. He soon built a studio, house, workshop and foundry in Italy where he created some of his most famous bronze sculptures. He became an expert in the lost wax casting method and was one of the first sculptors since the ancient Greeks to apply color to his sculptures. One of his best known works is the monumental bronze, "The Horseman,"  for which he used John Wayne as the model.  Throughout this period, the artist continued to spend extended time in Wyoming finding inspiration for the majority of his work. Jackson relocated to Wyoming in the 1970s evenually building an art studio and foundry in Cody.  

Jackson's work can be found in the collections of numerous institutions including the American Museum in Britain, Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Denver Art Museum, Gilcrease Museum, Lyndon Baines Johnson Library and Museum, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, and the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, houses the largest museum collection of Jackson's work in the United States. His work is in private collections around the world.  His work has won many prestigious awards and his life and work are the subjects of numerous books and documentary films.

Presidents Lyndon Johnson, Gerald Ford, and Ronald Reagan each admired and displayed Jackson's works, and selected his sculptures as gifts presented to foreign heads of state. In 1976, President Ford presented Queen Elizabeth II with Jackson's sculpture, Two Champs.

Jackson died in 2011 at the age of 87. In 2013, National Geographic contributor Jordan Carlton Schaul described Jackson as the "preeminent western artist of his time" and "one of the most distinguished American scuptors and painters in history."

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