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Vogue "artsplains" upcoming Fritz Scholder DAM exhibit

Vogue's Artsplainer took on the upcoming Fritz Scholder exhibit at the Denver Art Museum, "Super Indian," opening Oct. 4.


In 2008, the National Museum of the American Indian mounted a retrospective of the work of the 20th-century Figurative artist Fritz Scholder. It titled the show "Indian/Not Indian," referring to the identity question at the heart of Scholder’s work. Scholder, who died in 2005, was a quarter Luiseño, a registered member of the tribe, with a father who worked at the Bureau of Indian Affairs. But at points in his career Scholder denied the significance of that Native American heritage. He also made the claim that he would never paint Indians, and then proceeded to spend more than a decade immersed in his "Indian" series, vibrant portraits that depicted Native Americans in contemporary settings -- a buffalo dancer eating an ice cream cone, say, or a man holding a can of Coors -- that cast off the romantic overlay long dominating the portrayal of Native American subjects in American art.

It was a revolutionary move, and one that was controversial. "He was really there at the moment that American Indian art started to shift," explains John Lukavic, a curator at the Denver Art Museum, where another Scholder show, "Super Indian," opens this weekend. "Prior forms of American Indian art were in some ways formulaic. People expected to see certain things, it had to look a certain way in order for people to recognize it or accept it as American Indian art. He really started breaking the conventions."

Read the rest here.

Read more articles by Eric Peterson.

Eric is a Denver-based tech writer and guidebook wiz. Contact him here.
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