New Mexico Art Tells its History

Snake Dancer - Scholder

Snake Dancer, 1967
Fritz Scholder (American, Mission Indian, 1937 - 2005)
oil on board, 20 x 30 in. (50.8 x 76.2 cm) (frame)
Gift of Mr. John B.L. Goodwin, 1969

Fritz Scholder was born in Breckenridge, Minnesota; his grandmother was Luiseno, a California Mission tribe. He knew from an early age that he wanted to be an artist. Enrolled at Sacramento State University in 1957, he studied with Wayne Thiebaud who introduced him to abstract expressionism and also gave him an opportunity to show his work to the public. After receiving his Master of Fine Arts degree at the University of Arizona he moved to Santa Fe to teach painting and history at the newly formed Institute of American Indian Arts. Scholder tried to break long-standing clichés about Indians by doing a pop art series with unconventional subject matter attempting to deconstruct romantic images of Native America. After five years at IAIA he resigned and traveled to Europe and North Africa determined to make his living through his art. In 1969 he bought a small home with a studio on Canyon Road in Santa Fe. His paintings, etchings, lithographs and photographs became very successful. Scholder became a major influence on an entire generation of Native American artists and created the foundation of what is now known as contemporary American Indian art. 

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