Andy Warhol - Editions & Works on Paper New York Tuesday, October 19, 2021 | Phillips

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  • "I was disappointed that nobody in Dallas wears cowboy hats anymore. The cowboy look is dead, I guess." —Andy Warhol (Warhol Diaries, November 20, 1985 excerpt) 

    Andy Warhol’s final major portfolio Cowboys and Indians is truly a tour de force. Showcasing the artist’s fascination with pop culture, his appreciation of Indigenous art, and his almost prophetic, insight into the depths of the American imaginary, Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians remains an extraordinary series in the later part of Warhol’s career.  With vivid color and thought-provoking juxtaposed images of U.S. Americana and Indigenous peoples’ culture, Warhol offers a new view of the frontier—one of centering performances, public opinion, and difficult historical exchanges.  Looking beyond the prints to Warhol’s source imagery reveals an immense level of depth and consideration from the artist. Upon publication of the edition in 1986, a complete set of Cowboys and Indians was donated to the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.

     

    John Wayne

     

    Publicity Photo for The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, 1962, Everett Collection

    A publicity photograph for John Ford’s 1962 The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance served as the reference image for Warhol’s portrait of John Wayne. As a western film enthusiast, Warhol was taken with the Wayne and Ford westerns. He directed the 1968 film Lonesome Cowboys, a tongue-in-cheek ode to the western genre inspired by Wayne/Ford collaborations like Stagecoach, The Searchers, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance. Warhol donned a cowboy hat and boots on set while filming. Warhol’s John Wayne is the most contemporary subject depicted in the series. But rendered alongside historical figures like General Custer, Teddy Roosevelt, and Geronimo appears to comment on the intermingling of fantasy and reality in our understanding of the western frontier. John Wayne appears as real as it gets. Unlike the Plains Indian Shield, however, his revolver isn’t a weapon for survival—it's a prop.

     

    Annie Oakley

     

    Portrait of Annie Oakley by Anthony Percival, 1891

    Annie Oakley, pictured (left) by British photographer Anthony Percival in 1891, appears here decorated with her numerous sharpshooting medals. Renowned for her immense accuracy, Oakley was a star performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West traveling show from 1886 to 1902. Rising to prominence at age fifteen, after defeating famed sharpshooter Frank E. Butler in a shooting competition, she earned the monikers “The Little Sure Shot of the Wild West” and “The Peerless Lady of Wing Shot.” Warhol’s vibrant Annie Oakley revivifies Oakley’s nineteenth century fame, emphasizing her position not as the damsel in distress architype typically seen in Westerns, but as an active agent. Warhol’s portrait of Oakley further complicates the murky distinction between the imagined west and the realities of life on the American frontier. She was an entertainer like John Wayne but fired a rifle like General Custer. Her medals are earned in competition but serve the purpose of costume. Warhol effectively leverages this striking image to deepen his exploration of performance and its relation to U.S. westward expansion.

     

    Kachina Dolls

     

    Kachina Doll Polaroid by Andy Warhol, 1985

    Produced by a Hopi Pueblo carver at an unknown date, Tumas kachina is one of three Indigenous peoples’ works referenced in Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians. Referencing a Polaroid taken at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in 1985, Warhol’s Kachina Dolls depicts Tumas (also known as Angwusnasomtaka and Crow Mother), a matriarch spirit in Hopi mythology. Kachina Dolls stands out within the Cowboys and Indians series as Warhol takes a more involved approach to interpreting his source material. Not only has he taken the reference Polaroid (as is also the case for Plains Indian Sheild and Northwest Coast Mask), but Warhol’s touch is perhaps most felt here as he chooses to duplicate the referenced kachina doll. 

     

    Plains Indian Shield

     

    Shield with Cover, Penn Museum, Pan-American Exposition; Wanamaker Expedition / R. Stewart Culin, 1901

    Plains Indians Sheild depicts a Crow Tribe (Apsáalooke) shield the artist photographed at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in 1985. A similar Crow shield (left), now displayed at the Penn Museum, has been reproduced above in place of an image of the original, in accordance with the wishes of the Crow Tribe. Warhol’s Plains Indian Shield depicts a simultaneously tactical and decorated object, like the military uniforms in Warhol’s portraits of General Custer and Teddy Roosevelt. The shield, as a defensive object of war, serves as formal and cultural contrast to  the image of an armed John Wayne or the stern General Custer. Interestingly, Crow warriors served alongside Custer’s companies during the Great Sioux War of 1867, fighting alongside U.S. Forces at Little Bighorn. The shield also echoes the Indian Head Nickel—another object of value and utility adding a visually circular tableaux to the portfolio. 

     

    General Custer

     

    Portrait of Custer by Mathew Brady, c.1865, U.S. National Archives and Records Administration

    George Armstrong Custer’s famous last stand at Little Bighorn is perhaps the most recognizable episode of the American Indian Wars spanning from the early 17th Century through the final battles of the Apache Wars in 1924. As a major general during the Civil War and later a lieutenant colonel in the Indian Wars, Custer became a household name in no small part due to his distinctive dress, prolific writing, and willingness to invite journalists to observe his companies. Custer scholar Michael C. C. Adams remarks, “Custer was a largely self-created media personality who worked hard to stay in the popular mind.” Custer’s death in The Great Sioux War of 1876 was reported widely, inspiring poems, prints, and books valorizing Custer’s final moment and elevating him to mythic status. Despite contrasting reports from eyewitnesses, a unified and dramatic tale of Custer’s Last Stand persists in the American imagination. Warhol’s General Custer, emphasizing the figure’s distinctive red tie and longer-than-regulation golden locks, presents Custer the “self-created media personality.” With undeniable wit, Warhol surrenders much of the pallet of this print alone to its subject, letting the general’s penchant for pageantry speak for itself.

     

    Northwest Coast Mask

     

    Mechanical mask representing Sisiutl (a sea serpent), c.1880-1920, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian

    Warhol’s vibrant Northwest Coast Mask is the final work in Cowboys and Indians to draw from Indigenous work the artist encountered in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The piece is a Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) ceremonial mask depicting two-headed sea serpent Sisiutl. Anthropologist Audrey Hawthorne writes that Sisiutl, “the most frequently depicted supernatural character [in Kwakiutl art], was central to the themes of warrior power, strength and invulnerability; the ability to cause death; and the contrasting theme of revival.” The mask is a complex spectacle unto itself, displaying bright colors, intricate patterning, and moving fins operable by its wearer in performance. Again tackling the intersection of war and performance, Warhol presents an object of ceremony dealing with strength and mortality. 

     

    Mother and Child

     

    “Bright Eyes” Postcard, manufactured by E.C. Kropp Co., Museum of Fine Arts Boston

    Mother and Child takes as its reference image a detail from a postcard published by Milwaukee's E.C. Kropp Company. The mid-late nineteenth century brought with it both advancements in mechanized collotype printing and an expanding market for pictorial ephemera. Alongside images of recognizable landmarks, Native American imagery was a popular genre of these small prints. With little mind to understanding, respect, or rigor, exoticizing postcards employed reductive stereotypes and racial epithets, depicting its subjects as the ‘noble savage.’ Warhol’s Mother and Child opts for a more respectful, less exotic title and a much tighter crop. The figures’ faces are emphasized, individualizing the mother and child depicted. Mother and Child, seems also to reference the religious imagery of the Madonna and Child—bringing a greater sense of reverence and art historical depth to his subjects as opposed to the original postcard depiction.

     

    Geronimo

      

    Portrait of Geronimo by A.F. Randall, c.1886, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

    Geronimo (Goyaałé), like General Custer, is an immense figure in the mythos of the American Indian Wars. He first rose to public notoriety as a leader of Apache Chihuahua raids in the southwest. Warhol’s portrait is based on a photograph taken by A.F. Randall. In the original portrait, Geronimo is pictured with a rifle, surrounded by bits of southwestern brush. Yet in truth, Randall’s photo depicts Geronimo the prisoner, soon after his 1886 surrender. In the remaining years of his life, he would remain a prisoner of war, habitually making appearances as a public attraction: the 1904 World’s Fair, Teddy Roosevelt’s 1905 inaugural parade, and in wild west shows. Warhol’s Geronimo (as with Mother and Child) finally grants his subject the courtesy of a neutral background free of faux set pieces—a courtesy afforded to Wayne, Oakley, Custer, and Roosevelt by their respective original portraitists. There is a greater dignity afforded to Geronimo in Warhol’s print, plucking his subject from the condescending,  staged setting of the original photograph as a prisoner of war. 

     

    Indian Head Nickel

     

    1913 Buffalo Nickel Obverse, photograph by Jaclyn Nash, Smithsonian’s National Numismatic Collection, National Museum of American History

    Indian Head Nickel depicts the obverse of the Indian Head/Buffalo nickel designed by American Sculptor James Earle Fraser. Born in the Dakota Territory 1876 (the year of Custer’s death), Fraser depicted Indigenous people in his sculptures throughout his career. The Indian Head/Buffalo nickel, first minted in 1913, was Fraser’s replacement for Charles Barber’s 1883 Liberty Head nickel. Fraser’s goal was simple: to make sure his design “could not be mistaken for any other country’s coin,” to create “something totally American.” Warhol’s Indian Head Nickel references the artist’s earlier work depicting dollar bills and dollar signs, continuing Warhol’s exploration of the connection between commerce and image production. But, by emphasizing the coin’s text ‘LIBERTY’ and presenting it alongside the portraits other cultural products depicted in Cowboys and Indians, Warhol offers an incisive reflection of the American imagination—his two-cents was more than just pocket change. 

     

    Teddy Roosevelt

     

    Portrait of Theodore Roosevelt by George Gardner Rockwood, 1898, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

    The final work in Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians draws from an 1898 portrait of then Colonel Theodore Roosevelt during the Spanish American War. After making headlines leading the ‘Rough Riders’ in Cuba, upon his return, Roosevelt was elected Governor of New York. In 1900, he was elected vice president on a ticket with incumbent William McKinley. And mere months later, following McKinley’s assassination, Roosevelt was sworn in as president of the United States. Over the course of his breakneck rise to power, Roosevelt leveraged his public persona as a war hero, frontiersman, and naturalist to great political expedience. Warhol’s Teddy Roosevelt captures the figure just before his rapid political ascension, playing off the role that first garnered him national attention. Depicting Roosevelt’s face in inverted tones, Warhol calls attention to the idea, like the film negative, that this image is fundamental—that the colonel underlies the president. Often overlooked in discussions of Warhols presidential portraits, Warhol’s Teddy Roosevelt offers not only another stylized portrait, but a serious look at the conditions and myth of producing presidents. Teddy Roosevelt’s inclusion in Cowboys and Indians suggests the concrete, political results of America’s fascination with the west—a fascination that took him all the way to the White House

    • Provenance

      Broschofsky Galleries, Ketchum, Idaho
      Private Collection, acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Literature

      Frayda Feldmann and Jörg Schellmann 377-386

    • Catalogue Essay

      Including: John Wayne; Annie Oakley; General Custer; Northwest Coast Mask; Kachina Dolls; Plains Indian Shield; Mother and Child; Geronimo; Indian Head Nickel; and Teddy Roosevelt

    • Artist Biography

      Andy Warhol

      American • 1928 - 1987

      Known as the “King of Pop,” Andy Warhol was the leading face of the Pop Art movement in the United States in the 1960s. Following an early career as a commercial illustrator, Warhol achieved fame with his revolutionary series of silkscreened prints and paintings of familiar objects like Campbell's soup tins, and celebrities like Marilyn Monroe. Obsessed with popular culture, celebrity, and advertising, Warhol created his slick, seemingly mass-produced images of everyday subject matter from his famed Factory studio in New York City. His use of mechanical methods of reproduction, notably the commercial technique of silk screening, wholly revolutionized art-making.

      Working as an artist, but also director and producer, Warhol produced a number of avant-garde films in addition to managing the experimental rock band The Velvet Underground and founding Interview magazine. A central figure in the New York art scene until his untimely death in 1987, Warhol was notably a mentor to such artists as Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat.

      View More Works

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Cowboys and Indians (F. & S. 377-386)

1986
The complete set of 10 screenprints in colors, on Lenox Museum Board, the full sheets.
all S. 36 x 36 in. (91.4 x 91.4 cm)
All signed and numbered 43/250 in pencil (there were also 50 artist's proofs in Roman numerals), published by Gaultney, Klineman Art, Inc., New York (with their and the artist's copyright inkstamp on the reverse), all framed.

Full Cataloguing

Estimate
$400,000 - 600,000 

Sold for $816,500

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Editions & Works on Paper

New York Auction 19-21 October 2021