Thursday, January 7, 2016

Fritz Scholder exhibition at the Denver Art Museum

Fritz Scholder's exhibition at the Denver Art Museum is a colorful, bold and impressive show.  It wasn't until 1967 that he began his Indian series in response to the stereo-type Indian on how the art world depicted of him; the noble warrior with all the cliche trappings.
He vowed never to paint an Indian but it was at the Institute of American Indian Arts that he changed his mind starting with the above Indian No. 1.  He thought that this image really did not look like an American Indian so he stenciled the word "Indian" onto the canvas.
Hopi Dancers - First State and Hopi Dancers - Second State -  Lithographs - 1974
Scholder was able to experiment with colors in his lithographs in a manner that he could not with paint.  He was able to create a black-and-white and a colorful image of the most common subjects, the Hopi dancers.  It is similar in placement of the images of Marilyn Monroe and Mao that Andy Warhol was famous for during the Pop art period.
Seated Indian with Rifle (After Remington) - 1976
Scholder borrowed this figure that was found in the 1885 painting, The Captive by Henry F. Farry. He originally thought this painting was by Remington.  

Farry's painted depicted this Indian guarding his captive.  Scholder chose to only feature the sitting Indian embraced in a sea of pink, thus letting the viewer imagine what role this Indian was portraying.
Matinee Cowboy and Indian - 1978
The division of the bright yellow between the two figures along with the stone-like stares on both of their faces makes it look like it is not the friendly encounter of two men shaking hands that one would imagine.  As time went on, his canvases grew stronger, bolder and more forceful.
Indian Power - 1972.
Even though he said he was not a protest painter, the fist in the air of this orange-colored rider on top of his purple and black, rather menacing mount speaks differently.  This became a popular poster among the native American people in the 1970's.
Walking to the Next Bar - 1974 
Pop Art was already a trend in the art world with artists like Andy Warhol showcasing images from popular culture from Campbell soup cans to Brillo pads in his paintings.
Scholder broke taboo when he portrayed the Indian as real people along with icons of the time.  Love the parking meters.
 Indian with Dog - 1972
I really like the composition of this piece and how the dog is outlined in the florescent green that continues to run along the floor where it meets the wall.
Indian and Rhinoceros - 1968
Again, another painting full of political symbols.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) is a federal agency noted for breaking treaties.  Scholder associates the BIA with the rhinoceros which during the Cold War period that fought against fascism and communism, the Rhino was the nickname for the Russian Military tank.  And then he paints this Indian cradling a peace pipe in his left arm.  In the gallery, you can see a faint self-portrait of Scholder in the circle above his signature.
American Portrait with One Eye - 1975
He used bold, brilliant colors with wild brush strokes to call attention to the psychological reality of being an Indian in a white dominated environment.  He once said, "Color is what makes paintings different than any other medium and the challenge for any visual artist is to produce a strong and new visual experience for the viewer."  I do appreciate the way he worked the canvas and created such bold, colorful compositions.
Insane Indian No. 26 - 1972
The dark colors of the figure and the distorted, rather disturbing face contrasts perfectly with the yellow.
Indian with Blue Aura - 1967
The aura is the same successful technique he used with Indian with Dog.  Striking!

Great show and such a contrast from the previous blog I wrote about on Uffer and Hennings.  Enjoyed them both.

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