National Gallery of Art acquires first painting by Native American artist

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ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) – A painting by artist Jaune Quick-to-See Smith combines works by legendary pop artists Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol at the National Gallery of Art.

Smith’s “I See Red: Target” is the first painting by a Native American artist on canvas to be added to the collection. The gallery announced the purchase of the painting this week.

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Smith, a Corrales resident and enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana, told the Albuquerque Journal she was shocked to be the first Native American painter to appear at the National Museum.

“Why isn’t Fritz Scholder or RC Gorman or someone I would have expected?” included? she asked.

“On the one hand, it’s joyful; We broke that suede blanket, ”she said. “On the other hand, it is amazing that this museum has not yet purchased a Native American artwork”.

Jaune Quickly See Smith’s “I See Red: Aim” – 1992 (National Gallery of Art, Washington)

Gallery spokeswoman Anabeth Guthrie said that while Smith’s work is the first Native American painting to be acquired, the museum owns two dozen works on paper by indigenous artists.

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The 3.3 meter high mixed media painting explores racism through the commercial branding of indigenous American identity through Smith’s compilation of ephemera and painterly touches.

“They are Indians who are used as mascots. It’s about Indians being used as goods, ”said Smith.

“I see Red: Target” is part of a series about the 500th anniversary of the arrival of Christopher Columbus in America. Smith responded to the appropriation of Native American names by sports teams, particularly the Washington Redskins.

Historical photographs of Indians and red stripes make up the body of the piece. Newspaper clippings, the Char-Koosta News (the official publication of the Flathead Reservation where Smith grew up), a comic book cover, cloth, and a pennant cover the work.

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The piece was created in 1992.

“(Racism) still happens to Black Lives Matter,” she said. “It’s been 25 years and I was like, ‘Oh, this is going to be out of date.'”

“I See Red: Target” can be seen in the East Building’s pop art galleries, including works by Johns and Warhol, who have also incorporated recognizable imagery into their signature styles.

Like another work in the gallery, Warhol’s Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, Smith’s piece uses lattice, repetition, photographic elements, and painterly effects.

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Smith’s roles as an artist, teacher, curator, and activist have resulted in hundreds of exhibitions over four decades. Her work can be found in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the New Mexico Museum of Art, and the Albuquerque Museum.

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