Scrapbook 181 Art

Scrapbook 181 dilemma

Singing vs. talking


Farny vs. Farney

The Song of the Singing Wire. 

The Song of the Singing Wire by Henry Farny


Henry Farney. The Song of the Talking Wire (1904)

Henry Farney. The Song of the Talking Wire (1904).

By 1904 the sense of ennobling sorrow an American viewer

might have felt for the Vanishing American had turned, with

Native American population and fortunes at a nadir, into a form

of nostalgia, here captured by Henry Farney. This painting was,

according to Julie Schimmel, conceived during a visit by the

artist to Fort Yates in the Dakota Territory. Farney

“apparently observed an Indian named Long Day listening at a

telegraph pole so that he could tell fellow Indians that he had

heard spirit voices over the wires, thus proving his ability to

become a medicine man.” [Carter, Farney, 33] Long Day uses the

tools of civilization to assist in the continuity of his own

culture. But Farney turns the scene around to illustrate the

Indian listening at the telegraph pole, as if for his own


“The telegraph wires symbolize white progress, which

dispossesses Indians of their culture,” -the straight wire being

as it were the antithesis to the sacred hoop, willfully cleaving

the harmonious circle of nature. “Leaning against a telegraph

pole, the lone Indian is surrounded by death–the buffalo skull

and barren, snow-covered landscape. He carries the white man’s

gun yet clings to his own traditions, wearing moccasins and

buffalo hide and living by the hunt, as suggested by the dead

deer hanging from his saddle. His inability to change will

finally defeat him.”

Schimmel notes that Farney depicted Long Day incorrectly as

garbed in a robe actually “worn by females to celebrate puberty

rites.” To the artist the mistake didn’t matter; the cloak

signifies his tribal culture.

Reference: Julie Schimmel, “Inventing ‘The Indian,” in THE WEST


and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1991, pp. 171-72,


Carter, Denny. Henry Farney. New York: Watson-Guptill for


Cincinnati Art Museum.


18 thoughts on “Scrapbook 181 Art

  1. He still looks defiant to me, but which way is he staring down the line of poles? Is he peering at the future or looking at the past. I think future and it looks like he doesn’t like what he sees.


  2. The differences in the paintings are very similar to the differences you find when comparing Florencia to Graciella. Very strange, and an “explanation” by Dal…


      • FAKE!!!!!! it is getting so hard to tell what is real and what isn’t with all this fake stuff being discovered. What’s next? Are you going to tell me I’m looking for a fake chest or one that has been altered in some way? Just don’t sound like the cowboy way, what is the world coming two?


        • No, I have some items in my search area that I’m sure one is a fake, but I can’t tell which one. A while back when ff said to have your partner wait in the car makes me think it is something you may be able to just pick up and leave with. That did not work out to well the first time and I want to make sure I don’t make that mistake again. Remember taking the bait?


          • There’s an article online about Doug, and it mentions FF in it. Anyway, the article said that when Doug would go to a Colorado quarry to pick a piece of alabaster to work with, he’d hit the stone with a hammer to hear it “sing.” If it sounded like a bell, he knew the stone wasn’t flawed and he’d choose that one.


          • Been lots of talk about bells lately, could be what you’re looking for? Take a hammer and strike it to see if it cracks just don’t hit it on the rim. What that has to do with treasure hunting I don’t know, unless the bell covers Indulgence but if that was the case a person I would just move it.


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