The American Indian Series, Ace Gallery
The American Indian Series, Ace Gallery, 1976
Signed in felt-tip pen
Sheet: 125 x 86 cm
"The master of indifference, with a sureness that is less somnambulistic than it appears, has once more adopted a theme that is simultaneously captivating and banal. The Indian is a conventional accessory of the American scene, for the same reason as its counterpart, the cowboy, or as Coca-Cola, the electric chair, the movie star. The title of the series, moreover, ‘The American Indian’ takes this anonymous and communal dimension into account. At the same time, however, the Indian is the face of a real political problem, of a singular minority, and beyond that of all the American minorities." (Rainer Michael Mason cited in Neil Printz and Sally Kind-Nero, eds., The Andy Warhol Catalogue Raisonne, Vol. 4: Paintings and Sculpture late 1974-76, New York, 2014, p. 493).
Warhol's American Indian series was conceived of as a project with art dealer and Ace Gallery owner Doug Chrismas in 1976. It eventually grew to include thirty-eight paintings and twenty-three drawings. Warhol granted Chrismas exclusive rights to sell the twelve largest paintings for the first ten years after the series was first exhibited.
Each artwork featured as its subject Russell Means, a member of the Lakota tribe. He led the American Indian Movement during the Wounded Knee Occupation in 1973, a siege that lasted seventy-one days and resulted in widespread publicity. These artworks follow Warhol's established practice of elevating his sitters to the status of an icon while also stripping away their individuality. They represent the personal and the universal all at once. Each portrait stands as a veneration of an American archetype and an emblem of a burning societal crisis.
This large format poster was produced for an exhibition of the series in Paris. It is hand-signed by Warhol in black marker pen.
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