The American Indian (Russell Means)
- Andy Warhol, American, 1928-1987
- Born: Pittsburgh, PA
- Work Locations: New York, NY
MediumSynthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas
Credit LineCharles Francis Hendrie Memorial Collection by exchange
Andy Warhol, The American Indian (Russell Means), 1976. Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas. Charles Francis Hendrie Memorial Collection at the Denver Art Museum, by exchange,1993.107.
Dimensionsheight: 84 1/4 in, 213.9950 cm; width: 70 1/4 in, 178.4350 cm
DepartmentModern and Contemporary Art
CollectionModern and Contemporary Art
This object is currently on view
Unlike most of the portraits that Andy Warhol made after 1970, The American Indian (Russell Means) is less about immortalizing a celebrity or endowing a well-paying client; the painting belongs to Warhol’s theme of “big American topics.” In fact, it’s quite unlikely that Warhol himself chose Means as a portrait subject. Given his famous question to friends and dealers—“Gee, what should I paint?”—and his tendency to readily follow their suggestions, it’s more probable that someone at Ace Gallery, Warhol’s West Coast representation in Venice, California, conceived the idea. Means theorized that someone at Ace conducted a brief survey among American Indians in California and Canada asking who they thought should represent their culture today, and Means was their choice. Means was a logical selection, as he was the most prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which was formed to promote the freedom of Native Americans to follow their traditional ways and to call national attention to their oppressed state.
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