In what is being billed as “The first exhibition to examine Kentucky’s relationship to the horse through art”, the Speed Art Museum is excited to unveil their latest exhibit, Tales from the Turf. Featuring paintings, sculpture, photographs, drawings, prints, and manuscripts that all tell the story of the horse in the Bluegrass State, be sure to check it out when you can. It runs through March 1, 2020. The exhibition reflects all the ways that images of the horse have represented the Commonwealth’s identity, history, mythology, and agricultural economy, from its earliest days through the mid-twentieth century.
Tales from the Turf begins when Kentucky was still the edge of the western frontier. Early horse breeders looked to the gentlemen farmers of Virginia for inspiration in business and collecting art. Sporting art traditions carried over from England helped launch the Thoroughbred trade, and by the late nineteenth century, an industry focused on the “betterment of the breed” would witness the rise of over 60 racecourses across the state.
An agricultural and aristocratic pastime became a multi-billion dollar industry in the twentieth century, and the desire for collecting images of the horse has only grown over the decades. Presenting works from Kentucky’s leading private collections, Tales from the Turf will change Kentucky’s understanding of its own history through the act of making, collecting, and sharing the art of the horse. (Content and photos courtesy of Speed Art Museum.)