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What can Artificial Intelligence tell you about Western Art?

By Medicine Man Gallery on

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Kim Wiggins, Fiesta Day on the Plaza, 2003. Oil on canvas. Briscoe Museum of Western Art

Kim Wiggins, Fiesta Day on the Plaza, 2003. Oil on canvas. Briscoe Museum of Western Art | Photo by Chadd Scott

What does artificial intelligence think of Western art? I asked.

ChatGPT from is the most widely used ask-and-answer artificial intelligence tool available online. It’s free to use with signup which requires an email address and phone number.

I started by prompting ChatGPT to tell me, “what is Western art?”

Not surprisingly, it responded with a history of art from Western Civilization beginning with ancient Greece and Rome. I modified my request to specify “Western American art.”

I input the following questions:

  • What is Western American art?
  • Who are some other prominent Western American artists? (The first answer provided a short list)
  • What are the best places to see Western American art?
  • What are the best Western American art galleries?
  • Who are prominent living Western American artists?
  • Who else?
  • What advice do you have about collecting Western American Art?

I’ve included highlights below; for the full 2400-word transcript of responses to these questions, you can visit my website.

What is Western American art?

From ChatGPT: “Western American art refers to the artistic traditions and expressions that emerged in the western regions of the United States, primarily during the 19th and 20th centuries. It encompasses various artistic mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and other forms of visual art, often depicting the landscapes, people, and culture of the American West.”

Works for me.

Continuing: “Western American art emerged as European settlers began to explore and settle in the western territories of the United States, encountering vast landscapes, Native American cultures, and the frontier way of life. The art created during this time often sought to capture and romanticize the untamed wilderness, the spirit of exploration, and the experiences of the people who lived in the region.

Mostly a restatement of the first paragraph, but, sure.

The artificial intelligence tool went on to list “key themes and subjects in Western American art” which included, in order:

  • Landscapes
  • Native American culture
  • Cowboy culture
  • Pioneers and Settlers
  • Wildlife

It next named “Prominent Western American artists” and mentioned, in order, Frederic Remington, Charles Marion Russell, Georgia O'Keeffe, Thomas Moran, and Maynard Dixon.

For a 50,000-foot overview of “Western American art,” I was highly impressed with ChatGPT’s responses. Remember, there’s no expectation that the person entering these questions has any knowledge of the subject whatsoever. Imagine a 10-year-old prompting these questions. I think the answers are outstanding.

How can it do this?

As simply as I can explain it, these artificial intelligence tools produce their answers by aggregating and distilling millions or billions of pieces of information from across the internet, virtually in real time. Responses to my questions started coming back in under five seconds.

The “artificial intelligence” software is able to parse all of the available information online about a given subject, like Western American art, identify the popular and recurring themes, weight credibility, and use its judgment to convert that unimaginable volume of information into a manageable response.


And, as we’ll continue to find in the case of “Western American art,” amazingly accurate.

Who are some other prominent Western American artists?

Prompting ChatGPT to provide me with more “prominent Western American artists,” it responded with:

  • “Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902): Known for his breathtaking landscapes of the American West, Bierstadt's paintings often depicted majestic mountains, pristine lakes, and dramatic skies, capturing the sublime beauty of the region.
  • Edward S. Curtis (1868-1952): Curtis was a photographer and ethnologist who extensively documented Native American tribes in the early 20th century. His iconic photographs provide valuable insights into Native American cultures and traditions.
  • Charles Bird King (1785-1862): King was a portrait painter who specialized in depicting Native American leaders and prominent figures. His portraits, created during the early 19th century, provide important historical records of Native American leaders of the time.
  • Eanger Irving Couse (1866-1936): Couse was a painter and a founding member of the Taos Society of Artists, known for his portrayals of Native American subjects, particularly the Pueblo people of New Mexico. He often depicted scenes of everyday life and cultural ceremonies.
  • Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986): Although O'Keeffe is widely recognized for her contributions to American modernism, her time in New Mexico greatly influenced her work. She painted many landscapes and scenes inspired by the Southwest, capturing its unique colors, forms, and light.
  • Fritz Scholder (1937-2005): Scholder, a Native American artist of Luiseño heritage, challenged traditional representations of Native Americans in art. His bold and sometimes controversial paintings explored themes of identity, assimilation, and the complexities of Native American experiences.
  • Jaune Quick-to-See Smith (born 1940): A member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Smith is a contemporary Native American artist known for her mixed-media works. Her art addresses social and political issues, challenging stereotypes and advocating for Native American rights and cultural preservation.”


That’s impressive. Again, these responses were returned in seconds.

I was amused by Georgia O’Keeffe receiving a double mention when many in the “real” Western art world don’t even consider her a Western artist. AI beats the humans on that one.

Thankfully, a pair of Native American artists were included: Scholder and Smith. Smith is the only living artist listed thus far.

The listing is not designed to be exhaustive, and I could have kept asking ChatGPT to name more and more and more “prominent Western American artists” endlessly, but it would be hard to give the service anything other than an “A” grade for its responses to my first two questions.

That does speak highly not only to the power of this tool, but also the overall quality of information available online about these questions. Remember, artificial intelligence can’t “create” responses, it can only take what’s already available online and regenerate it.

If the already available information online about a given subject is good, AI’s ability to return “good” responses to questions about that subject improve. The more information available, the more AI has to work with, the better the responses will be.

AI can’t create, but it can collect, collate, condense, consider and convert with amazing capacity.


John Nieto, Coyote Medicine, 1992. Acrylic on canvas. Collection of the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art

John Nieto, Coyote Medicine, 1992. Acrylic on canvas. Collection of the James Museum of Western and Wildlife Art| Photo by Chadd Scott


What are the best places to see Western American art?

ChatGPT responded to this question with:

  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West (Cody, Wyoming, USA)
  • National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA)
  • Autry Museum of the American West (Los Angeles, California, USA)
  • Gilcrease Museum (Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
  • Denver Art Museum (Denver, Colorado, USA)
  • Booth Western Art Museum (Cartersville, Georgia, USA)
  • Phoenix Art Museum (Phoenix, Arizona, USA)

Hard to argue any of those. It did fail to mention that the Gilcrease is closed while undergoing a massive renovation.

I’m surprised the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth wasn’t mentioned.

The Heard Museum in Phoenix, while technically a Native American art museum, should have been included. ChatGPT was able to determine Scholder and Smith were Western artists along with being Native artists and that O’Keeffe was a Western artist along with being a modernist, so, omitting the Heard is a miss. Put the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis in this category as well.

Still, it would be hard to give ChatGPT anything less than a solid “B” for these responses, and an “A” would be understandable.

What are the best Western American art galleries?

Since this article lives on the website for a Western American art gallery, I was particularly interested in this response. Here are the responses, in order:

  • Gerald Peters Gallery (Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)
  • Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery (Tucson, Arizona, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA)
  • Trailside Galleries (Scottsdale, Arizona, and Jackson, Wyoming, USA)
  • Manitou Galleries (Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA)
  • Simpson Gallagher Gallery (Cody, Wyoming, USA)
  • Settlers West Galleries (Tucson, Arizona, USA)

Here is the full response under “Mark Sublette Medicine Man Gallery:” “With locations in Tucson and Santa Fe, the Medicine Man Gallery specializes in Western American art, Native American art, and historic Native American artifacts. It offers a wide range of traditional and contemporary works.”

ChatGPT goofed on this one as Medicine Man Gallery hasn’t had a location in Santa Fe for years.

Again, like with museums or artists, hard to argue with the AI choices here. I have my favorite galleries, some of which are included, some of which aren’t, but these are all quality picks and I could have continued asking the tool for more and more and more galleries, which it would have responded to.

Who are prominent living Western American artists?

ChatGPT’s list, in order:

  • Howard Terpning
  • Bill Anton
  • Ed Mell
  • R. Tom Gilleon
  • Mian Situ
  • Deborah Copenhaver Fellows
  • Veryl Goodnight

Here is the complete entry for Ed Mell: “Mell is a contemporary artist renowned for his stylized and abstracted depictions of the Southwest. His bold and vibrant paintings often feature mesas, canyons, and rock formations, emphasizing the unique geological features of the American West.”

Who else?

  • Greg Kelsey
  • Donna Howell-Sickles
  • George Carlson
  • Tom Palmore
  • Martin Grelle
  • Tamara Rymer
  • Tim Cox

What advice do you have about collecting Western American Art?

Lastly, I asked ChatGPT for advice about collecting. These responses are largely boilerplate, but that doesn’t make them inaccurate.

  • Educate Yourself
  • Visit Museums, Galleries, and Exhibitions
  • Define Your Interests

The full entry here was especially good: “Determine what aspects of Western American art appeal to you the most. Are you drawn to landscapes, Native American art, cowboy culture, wildlife, or a specific period? Defining your interests will guide your collection and make it more focused and cohesive.”

  • That’s great advice.
  • Research and Authenticity
  • Condition and Conservation
  • Set a Budget
  • Engage with the Art Community
  • Follow Your Passion
  • Seek Professional Advice
  • Document and Insure Your Collection

Not bad, for a computer.

Earl Biss, Early Snow in the Beartooth Range. Oil on canvas. Collection of Paul Zuger

Earl Biss, Early Snow in the Beartooth Range. Oil on canvas. Collection of Paul Zuger | Photo by Chadd Scott


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