Why Fritz Scholder Was One of Few Native Artists to Break into the American Mainstream

Image: Larsen Gallery

By Andrew Gardner – Artsy.net – Image: Larsen Gallery.

Image: Fritz Scholder/Indian and Horse in the Water

That one of the two artists who fall into this categorical designation is not officially a registered member of any tribe, despite his longstanding claims to Cherokee heritage (Durham), and the other is of mixed African-American and Native American ancestry (Prophet), is an indication of the magnitude of the problem.

It is through this lens that one must view the work of Fritz Scholder (1937–2005), a leading, if controversial, member of the New American Indian Art movement of the 1970s known for his bright paintings of Native Americans and other subject matter, sometimes portrayed in a Pop or Abstract Expressionist aesthetic. He is one of few Native artists in the 20th century to have achieved widespread recognition in the mainstream American art world.

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