Scholder, Fritz

“Fritz Scholder: New Paintings, Lithographs, Monotypes & Wash Art, 1979” The Elaine Horwitch Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona, May 2-7, 1979, Limited Edition Poster, 24 x 28 inches

“Fritz Scholder: New Paintings, Lithographs, Monotypes & Wash Art, 1979” The Elaine Horwitch Galleries, Scottsdale, Arizona, May 2-7, 1979, Limited Edition Poster, 24 x 28 inches
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American, (1937-2005)

Fritz Scholder is one of the best known Native American painters, and has had an extraordinary artistic career including painting, sculpting, lithography, bookmaking, and teaching. Although he is only partly of Native American descent (1/4 Luiseño), his decision to portray Native Americans as people rather than stereotypes has cast him in a role of spokesperson.

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Scholder’s style is strongly influenced by Abstract Expressionism’s strong images and color, and by Pop Art’s use of popular culture and clichés. His style is complex, blending modernist influences from Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, Francis Bacon and Wayne Thiebaud, as well as hints of Picasso, Munch, and Matisse. His work seeks to “deconstruct” more than a century of romantic images of Native Americans and approach the American Indian in real terms, and can be categorized as simultaneously Indian, American, and twentieth-century art.

Born in 1937 in Breckenridge, Minnesota, Scholder showed artistic talent at an early age. He was granted a full scholarship to the Southwestern Indian Art Project at the University of Arizona in 1960, supported by the Rockefeller Foundation. After obtaining his bachelor’s degree in art from California State, Sacramento, Scholder then taught painting at the institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe from 1964-1969.

In 1975 Fritz produced his first etchings through El Dorado Press in Berkeley, California.  His etchings, lithographs and photographs became very successful, and he was featured at the Heard Museum, Oklahoma Art Institute and a documentary on PBS.  From the 1970s on, his awards are many in addition to five honorary degrees from Ripon College, University of Arizona, Concordia College, The College of Santa Fe and the first honorary degree from the University of Wisconsin, Superior.  A humanitarian Award from the 14th Norsk Hostfest followed.  His love of teaching caused him to become 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.

His awards in the last forty years include fellowship from the Whitney Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Painting, and Awards from the Salon d’ Automne in Paris and Intergrafiks in Berlin. He has been an artist in residence at Dartmouth College, as well as guest artist at the Vermont School, Oklahoma Art Institute, Idyllwild Art Institute, Santa Fe Art Institute, Taos School of Art and the American University, Washington, D.C.

Over a dozen books have been published on Fritz Scholder and his work, and he has been profiled in two documentaries for public television. In a single year, exhibitions of his work were seen in Japan, France, China, Germany and at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.

Fritz Scholder died in 2005 at the age of 67. Since his death, interest in his work has continued to grow. In 2008, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian mounted a career retrospective of his work, with exhibitions in both New York City and Washington, D.C.

Recent News and Events
Fritz Scholder has been inducted into the 2009 California Hall of Fame. The California Hall of Fame inductees come from all walks of life and embody California’s innovative spirit. Twelve to thirteen remarkable individuals have been inducted each year since 2006.

Fritz was inducted alongside Carol Burnett, Andrew Grove, Hiram Johnson, Rafer Johnson, Henry J. Kaiser, Joan Kroc, George Lucas, John Madden, Harvey Milk, Danielle Steele, Joe Weider and General Chuck Yeager.

“So think for a moment what you would have to do to stand out in a state of 37 million people. Think of how high you would have to dream, how long you would have to stay at your dream, how much perseverance you would have to have, how much courage you would have to have, and just plain chutzpah. You’d have to go out and do what your heart and mind ordered you to do.”

– Maria Shriver,
2006 Induction Ceremony


Artist Interview: Video introduction to the eponymous exhibition “Fritz Scholder: Indian/Not Indian” | YouTube

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