The American Indian (Russell Means)




Andy Warhol, American, 1928-1987
Born: Pittsburgh, PA
Work Locations: New York, NY


Object Info

Object: painting
Not currently on view
Object ID: 1993.107


Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas


Charles Francis Hendrie Memorial Collection by exchange

More Info


height: 84 1/4 in, 213.9950 cm; width: 70 1/4 in, 178.4350 cm


Modern and Contemporary Art


Andy Warhol
The American Indian (Russell Means), 1976
Synthetic polymer paint and silkscreen on canvas
Charles Francis Hendrie Memorial Collection by exchange, 1993.107

Extended Info

Unlike most of the portraits that Andy Warhol made after 1970, The American Indian (Russell Means) is less about immortalizing a celebrity or endowing a well-paying client; the painting belongs to Warhol’s theme of “big American topics.” In fact, it’s quite unlikely that Warhol himself chose Means as a portrait subject. Given his famous question to friends and dealers—“Gee, what should I paint?”—and his tendency to readily follow their suggestions, it’s more probable that someone at Ace Gallery, Warhol’s West Coast representation in Venice, California, conceived the idea. Means theorized that someone at Ace conducted a brief survey among American Indians in California and Canada asking who they thought should represent their culture today, and Means was their choice. Means was a logical selection, as he was the most prominent member of the American Indian Movement (AIM), which was formed to promote the freedom of Native Americans to follow their traditional ways and to call national attention to their oppressed state.

Exhibition History

  • "Contemporary British Artists"--Denver Art Museum, 11/14/1998 - 7/11/1999
  • "Retrospectacle: 25 Years of Collecting Modern and Contemporary Art"--Denver Art Museum, 11/16/2002 - 8/3/2003
  • “The Western: An Epic in Art and Film” — Denver Art Museum, 5/28/2017 – 9/9/2017