Devotion displayed on canvas in Vail |

Devotion displayed on canvas in Vail

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily"Blackfoot Cowboy" by Julius Seyler.

VAIL, Colorado ” Cogswell Gallery will host an exhibit of works by deceased German painter Julius Seyler. In addition to the Seyler works, the gallery will exhibit antiquity Native American bead work and historic Navajo weavings for sale from a private collector Friday through Sunday.

Seyler is known for his paintings of the Blackfoot Indian tribe in Montana.

“For the time period (Seyler) was painting, which was 1913 and 1914, he had a really interesting life. He was here in America, trying to learn our culture, our ways. It was ironic that at the time we had so much anti-German sentiment because of the war but he was here, trying to document some of our national heritage,” said Carrie Sanderson, a sales associate at the gallery.

Seyler was born in Munich, Germany in 1873 and began studying art at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1892. A gifted athlete as well as an artist, Seyler held two National titles in speed-skating before pursuing a career as a painter. In 1906 Seyler spent time traveling to the Bavarian countryside where he experimented with the later Impressionistic style of painting that would eventually become his hallmark.

In 1910 Seyler married a Norwegian-American art student from St. Paul, Minnesota whom he’d met while she was studying art in Europe. After a three-year stint in Europe, Julius and Helga returned to St. Paul. This move to the states eventually led Selyer to Glacier National Park and the Blackfoot tribe. Seyler spent the summer months during the years of 1913 and 1914 in Glacier and on the Blackfoot Reservation. His experiences with the Blackfoot tribe dramatically affected his paintings during this time period.

“Seyler devoted himself to the portrayal of the Blackfeet ” not so much who they were, but who they had been,” said William E. Farr, associate director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at The University of Montana. Developing powerful friendships with many of the tribal elders, including being inducted into the Blackfoot tribe, his paintings enabled the Blackfoot to tell their stories in their own way.

“(Seyler) wasn’t painting exactly from the Blackfoot Indians life but he would listen to their stories about things they remembered from when they were younger, when their culture was less affected by the United States government, and he would paint their stories,” Sanderson said. “Some of his paintings are an interpretation of a story, rather than what he saw witih his own eyes,” Sanderson said, referring to a painting of a buffalo hunt.

With the outbreak of World War I in 1914 and the growing anti-German sentiment in the United States, Seyler returned to St. Paul in hopes of booking a return passage to Germany. Unsuccessful due to the English sea blockade, Seyler and his wife retreated to a family farm in Wisconsin and spent seven years in exile, eventually returning to Germany with his entire body of work in 1921. Named professor by the Munich Academy of Fine Arts in 1925, Seyler continued to paint and teach until losing most of his eyesight in the late 1940s. Despite his powerful experiences, Seyler never returned to America and died in 1955. Some of his paintings of the Blackfoot were destroyed in the Allied bombings during WWII but fortunately much of the work survived, including this current exhibition.

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