Andy Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians series was one of his last major works before his death in 1987.
In 1986, Andy Warhol created the Cowboys and Indians series. In this portfolio, Warhol portrays a range of images that represent both the history and constructed lore of the American West, pulled from reality and fiction. Warhol interspersed portraits of world-famous Americans with those of anonymous Native Americans in his ironic commentary on America’s collective mythology of the historic West.
Rather than portraying Native Americans within their historical landscape, or cowboys in their veritable forms, Warhol went with a stylized and romanticized version of the American West — already a favored lens in novels, films, and various television series popular during the 20th century.
Included in the composition are Native Americans and their authentic emblems — a mask, Kachina dolls, and a shield — alongside John Wayne, Annie Oakley, Teddy Roosevelt and General George Custer, the latter group exemplifying Warhol’s preoccupation with stardom.
At this point in his life, Warhol was forming bonds with a number of younger artists in the New York art scene including Jean-Michel Basquiat, David Salle, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel.