Montana PBS’ documentary examines Russell’s arrival in Montana as a youth, his apprenticeship and work as a cowboy on the open range, and his self-taught, almost explosive growth into an iconic American artist who affected generations. His body of work was panoramic and surprisingly modern in his sensitivity to subject matter, from reverence for the land to his depictions of American Indians. Russell’s story is a fascinating one and has never been fully explored in narrative film or documentary.

The documentary airs in three hour-long segments, with previews below:

Episode 1: C.M. Russell and the American West – I Got the Cream

At age 16 Charles M. Russell leaves his home in St. Louis to make his way as a cowboy in Montana. He meets mountain men, wranglers, and settles into a job as a nighthawk with the horses. His talents with drawing, sculpting and stories make him a popular companion at the campfire. A tough winter inspires a drawing that will make CMR famous.

Episode 2: C.M. Russell and the American West – Sum of the Parts

Charlie Russell gives up his spurs and lariat for brushes and paint. He also gives up the cowboy “sporting life” when he meets Nancy Cooper, a young woman who will make sure the world recognizes Charlie as a real artist.

Episode 3: C.M. Russell and the American West: My Medicine is Strong Now

Charles M. Russell’s art expands in technique, color, storytelling and, thanks to Nancy, value. The American Indian point of view often dominates his canvases while he helps Hollywood build the myth of the West on film.

Click here to purchase the DVD from the C.M. Russell Museum Store.

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