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Fritz Scholder

1937 Breckenridge, Minnesota - 2005 Phoenix, Arizona

Fritz Scholder—who considered himself equal parts German, French, and Luiseno and was an enrolled member of the Californian Mission tribe—subverted the traditional, romantic image of the American Indian in his work, instead portraying Native Americans through a realist lens. Scholder observed the contemporary realities of Native Americans. He combined Pop Art with Abstract Expressionism, and considered himself a colorist first and foremost, also producing sculpture, prints, and photography. Scholder was born in 1937 in Breckenridge, Minnesota. His high school teacher was Oscar Howe, a noted Sioux artist. In 1956, he took his freshman year at Wisconsin State University then moved with his family in 1957 to Sacramento, California where he studied with Wayne Thiebaud at Sacramento City College. He earned his B.A. from Sacramento State University and then moved to Arizona where he earned his MFA Degree in 1964 from the University of Arizona before accepting the position of instructor in Advanced Painting and Contemporary Art History at the Institute of American Indian Arts. During this time, he developed a series of paintings on Native Americans that was focused on breaking down the national cliché by depicting contemporary Native American life and issues with images featuring objects like American Flags, beer cans, and cats. He resigned in 1969 and traveled to Europe and North Africa before returning to Santa Fe. He started experimenting with printmaking in the 1970s and has lectured at numerous conference and universities. He moved to Arizona in 1994 and died in 2005. He received numerous awards during his life including: 2002 Arizona Governor’s Award, Golden Plate Award from the American Academy of Achievement, a humanitarian Award from the 14th Norsk Hostfest, and five honorary degrees from Ripon College, University of Arizona, Concordia College, the College of Santa Fe, and the University of Wisconsin, Superior.