"American Indian history fascinates me. I feel privileged to be one of their storytellers. 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."
When Howard Terpning’s paintbrush touches the canvas, there is a profound commitment behind its spirit, a vital force that drives the originality of each painting with a heartfelt purpose. The compassion, strength, and vulnerability that radiates from the canvas is not only a testament to his skills, but a reflection of the artist, and the man himself.
Terpning has become one of the most lauded painters of Western art today and is considered by many a national treasure. He is amongst the rare group of artists to see his work sell for over a million dollars in his lifetime. This is not only a rating of the mastery of his skills as an artist, but of his employment of them to allow the viewer to experience the deep respect for people and nature that drives his art.
Born in Illinois and educated at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts and the American Academy of Art, Terpning first gained attention through his advertising and editorial illustrations. His vision became the force behind such classic movie posters as “The Sound of Music”, “Dr. Zhivago”, and the 1967 re-issue of “Gone with the Wind”. Always a Marine, Terpning answered the call again, making combat patrols around Da Nang with a camera and sketch pad for the Corps in Vietnam during 1967, but his love of the West and Native American traditions fueled his transition to fine art. He has become known as the Storyteller of the Native American because of his devotion and respect for the Plains Indian.
The late Fred A. Myers, director of the Gilcrease Museum, said of Terpning, “He is simply the best and best-known artist doing Western subjects at this point. He is among a very small group of painters of the West in the late 20th century whose art will still be hanging in museums and appreciated a hundred years from now.” His work has been exhibited around the world and collected in museums including the Autry National Center, the Phoenix Museum, and the Booth Western Art Museum, along with many of the most prestigious private collections today.