19 Nov Scottish Angus Cow and Calf by Dan Ostermiller at the Denver Art Museum

Scottish Angus Cow and Calf is a outdoor bronze sculpture by Colorado artist Dan Ostermiller; it is located behind the Hamilton Building at the Denver Art Museum. The sculpture has two elements, a cow and her calf, both over sized and extremely realistic. The cow is thirteen feet tall, and the calf ten.

This public art piece was donated to the Denver Art Museum by businessman Leo Hindery, Jr. He also donated money for the installation and care of the sculpture. In 2009, Scottish Angus Cow and Calf was voted the best public sculpture in Denver.

Dan Ostermiller was born in 1956 in Cheyenne, Wyoming. His father was a taxidermist and Ostermiller’s knowledge of animal anatomy and posture gives his bronze sculptures a remarkable realism. Other examples of his work can be found at the Raymond James Financial Center in St. Petersburg, FL, and in the Benson Park Sculpture Garden in Loveland, CO.

Constructing a monumental bronze sculpture is a time-consuming and difficult task. Ostermiller created small-scale models (maquettes) of Scottish Angus Cow and Calf, and then separated these models into pieces. These pieces were then enlarged and used as models themselves for casting the large bronze panels that would be eventually be fit together to create the monumental animals.

Animal artists (or animalier) have an unusual place in the history of art. Animal portraiture was considered a secondary genre in the fine arts world until the nineteenth century. French sculptorAntoine-Louis Barye (1795-1875) submitted his Tiger devouring a Crocodile to the 1831 Paris Salon, where it was awarded a medal. A tradition of respected and popular “animal art” sprung from Barye’s many Romantic bronze sculptures.

The scale of Ostermiller’s Scottish Angus Cow and Calf gives the piece an element of humor, but the placid realistic expressions on the faces of the creatures gives them a serenity and gravity that prevents the gigantic animals from being merely comic. The importance of livestock in the history and contemporary scenery of rural Colorado makes Scottish Angus Cow and Calf a familiar and approachable example of public art.

Scottish Angus Cow and Calf is one of several large scale outdoor sculptures on display at the Denver Art Museum. If you enjoyed this article and are interested in public art, click the “subscribe” button above to receive e-mail alerts when new articles about public art in Denver appear.

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