Fralin Museum of Art at U.Va. Hosts Saturday Talk on Cowboys in Art for ‘The Big Read’

March 25, 2014

Scholar Stephen Margulies will give a Saturday Special Tour and talk at The Fralin Museum of Art at the University of Virginia on March 29 from 2 to 3 p.m.

Margulies’ talk, “The Cowboy in Art: The Good, the Bad, and the Funny” is planned in partnership with the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library and the National Endowment for the Arts’ annual “Big Read,” designed to revitalize the role of literary reading in American popular culture.

The featured book for this year’s “Big Read” is Charles Portis’ “True Grit.” From the moment it was published, “True Grit” earned acclaim from critics as a classic Western tale. In the decades since, readers of all ages and fans of all literary genres have fallen in love with the indelible voice of Mattie Ross as she recounts her youthful quest to avenge the murder of her father with the aid of a down-at-heels federal marshal named Rooster Cogburn. The rousing adventure story inspired two award-winning films, but on the page, readers will discover fully the rich humor, inventive prose and compelling characters that have made the book a masterpiece of American storytelling.

From absurd cartoon figure to admirable role model, the cowboy exemplifies the drama inherent in “True Grit.” Margulies will discuss important works of art from the museum’s collection by Sam Abell, Roy De Forest, Willard Midgette, Andy Warhol, Hollywood photographer George Hurrell and many others that demonstrate the wide variety of rich meanings that the iconic image of the cowboy has in American culture, from the cowboy as hero to the cowboy as destructive force.

Margulies is an alumnus of both Johns Hopkins University and U.Va. He is a published poet, essayist and scholar, and was a curator of works on paper at The Fralin Museum of Art for more than 20 years.

In his talk, Margulies will also discuss the scope of American photographer Berenice Abbott’s artistic career, and her landmark works depicting the principles of physics. Her photographic images represent a unique melding of science and art, which produces an aesthetic that compels the viewer while also conveying scientific ideas.

The Museum’s Lunchtime Talks are usually held on the second Tuesday of each month from noon to 1 p.m. These lectures offer the opportunity to join curators and faculty as they explore topics related to museum collections and exhibitions.

Lunchtime Talks are free and open to the public. For information, call 434-243-2050 or e-mail The museum is located at 155 Rugby Rd., one block from the Rotunda.

Media Contact

Robert Hull

Media Relations Associate Office of University Communications