American Indian Artists: 20th Century Masters

at National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum

As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who shaped it. Explore early artists such as the Kiowa Six, Tonita Peña, Harrison Begay and the institutions that influenced them — particularly the University of Oklahoma and the Santa Fe Indian School. See how their art, and that of many others, was not limited to a specific medium or a standard scene, but also reflected individual creativity and stylistic diversity.

These artists were residents of the Southern Plains and Southwest and affiliated with the University of Oklahoma, Bacone College and the Studio at the Santa Fe Indian School. Their works were some of the first painted after educators of Native students were allowed to encourage—rather than suppress—Native cultural expressions. Produced largely between 1930 and 1980, the paintings that appear in the exhibition show the later, mature work of these seminal artists.

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