Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve


Winner of the 2017 Independent Press Award for Photography

Susan Hallsten McGarry; Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve.

In the vernacular of the West, the term pure quill means “authentic; real, through and through.” Barbara Van Cleve’s gripping black-and-white photographs of the West she knows and loves give vision to that term. Born and raised on a working Montana cattle and horse ranch, for seven decades she has focused her lens on the land and sky, and the men, women, and animals who animate it. Through riveting compositions, subtle values, and captivating textures her photographs dispel the myths associated with the West while conveying its true adventure and compelling drama. In this first book featuring the breadth of her subject matter, readers experience her other themes, including Rodeo as Dance, striking night scenes, the Great Montana Centennial Cattle Drive series, and documentation of the Spanish Mission Trail in Baja California, Mexico. Honesty, consistency, and versatility are the hallmarks of Van Cleve’s oeuvre, and pride of place is her brand.

12.5 x 10.75 in. 216 pages 175 Tritones


Susan Hallsen McGarry has been writing about artists of the American West for more than three decades. The former editor in chief of Southwest Art magazine, she guides the reader on a captivating journey through Van Cleve's life, philosophy, and themes.

Van Cleve's photography collections Hard Twist and Pure Quill have been exhibited in the Anne W. Marion Gallery at the National Cowgirl Museum. Van Cleve had her first major exhibition in Santa Fe in 1985. Since thenm she has had over 60 one-person shows and has been in over 100 group shows. Her work is in public and private collections in the United States as well as internationally. Her photography work has also been published many times.

See more on Van Cleve in our Hall of Fame.

  • hardcover
  • 216 pages

Pure Quill: Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve [2016 Fresco Books] has won six book awards:

  • 2017 IPPY Bronze Medal (Photography) from The Independent Book Publishers, 
  • 2017 Best Photography Book from the Independent Press Awards, 
  • 2017 Honorable Mention (Photography) at the Foreword Indies awards,
  • 2017 Western Heritage Award for Outstanding Photography Book at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK, and
  • 2016 Best Book (Adult Division) and Best Art Book given by the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards. 

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