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Andy Warhol : Cowboys and Indians

Andy Warhol: Cowboys and Indians

December 20, 2008- May 10, 2009



Well known for his portrayal of celebrities and consumer goods, later in his career Andy Warhol became engaged with the stories, myths and legends of the American West. In 1986 he created the suite Cowboys and Indians. This suite, based on publicity and archival photographs and postcards, is one of Warhol's last works, created just one year before his death in 1987. In it, Warhol pays homage to America's popular version of Western history. He depicts American heroes of the West (General Custer, Teddy Roosevelt and Geronimo), Western entertainers (Annie Oakley and John Wayne), and romanticized, stereotyped and exploited images of American Indians (Indian Head Nickel, Plains Indian Shield, Mother and Child, Kachina Dolls, and Northwest Coast Mask). Strategically placing these disparate icons together in one suite, these ten silk-screened prints challenge and expose the controversies surrounding America's perception of cowboys and Indians. - CH



  • A short synopsis of a similar exhibition (link is no longer available)  in 2000 at the Palmer Museum of Art at Pennsylvania State University (from the Traditional Fine Art Online site)
  • Works by Warhol from the Cochran Collection from 2007 includes many of the Cowboys and Indians prints. Here is a small review of the prints and images of a few (Note: this link is no longer active 4/26/11) from the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
  • A review of "Pop Goes the West", an exhibition from 2007 at the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art in Indianapolis. There is also a video walkthrough (Note: link no longer active 4/26/11) of the exhibition (Quicktime needed)
  • A discussion of the Cowboys and Indians series from this 2003 article by Dorothy Joiner "Andy Warhol 1928-1987" (from the Traditional Fine Art Online site)


Andy Warhol Links

A link to the mintwiki page for Andy Warhol Portfolios: Life and Legends


Background on the subject matter of the prints

George Armstrong Custer


Teddy Roosevelt

  • From the UXL Encyclopedia of Biography, here is an extensive essay on Theodore Roosevelt, generally considered the "first modern" president.






Annie Oakley

  • Arguably, the first American woman "superstar," check out this film footage of Annie Oakley in action from 1894 done in Edison's studio in New Jersey.
  • As with all "legends," sorting fact from fiction can be difficult. The Annie Oakley Foundation was started by members of her own family to provide accurate information about "Little Sure Shot." Biographical information and more is provided.
  • Annie is featured in the PBS series American Experience and the web site includes a number of teacher resources.


John Wayne

  • John Wayne played many roles in his movie career, but "The Duke" is best known for his westerns. See his website at johnwayne.com for a huge amount of information on this iconic actor.
  • On the Internet Movie Database site - imdb.com (the essential reference for all things cinema)-, watch the movie trailer for True Grit and the role that won John Wayne his Oscar.


Kachina Dolls

  • The Wikipedia article on kachina
  • Bassman, Theda. Hopi Kachina dolls and their carvers. West Chester, Pa. : Schiffer Pub., c1991. E99.H7 B37 1991
  • Bromberg, Erik. The Hopi approach to the art of Kachina doll carving. West Chester, Pa. : Schiffer Pub., c1986. E99.H7 B85 1986
  • Colton, Harold Sellers, 1881-1970. Hopi kachina dolls : with a key to their identification. Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, 1959. E99.H7 C65 1959
  • Wright, Barton. Hopi kachinas : the complete guide to collecting kachina dolls. Flagstaff [Ariz.] : Northland Press, c1977. E99.H7 W75 1977


Indian Head Nickel

  • The Wikipedia article provides a wealth (ahem) of information on this coin with more links to coin-related sites.
  • Here is the official story on the Indian Head nickel from the US Mint.


Plains Indian Shield

  • "True hide war shields were painted with vision-induced sacred images which told of the bearer's encounter with a supernatural protector. . . . Their power and strength were thought to work against the enemy's weapons." from The Arts of the North American Indian: Native Tradition in Evolution. NY: Hudson HIlls Press, 1986 E98.A7 A78 1986.
  • On the Plains Indians Museum Galleries website from the Buffalo Bill Historic Center, you can search their online collections and view a number of other shield designs.
  • A Plains Indian Timeline can be found on the Independent Television Service website. (Note: this link is no longer active 4/26/11)
  • American Indian art: form and tradition. New York : E.P. Dutton, 1972. E98.A7 A44


Northwest Coast Mask


Archival Photographs and Postcards of the American West