Andy Warhol | Cowboys and Indians: Andipa, London

9 - 27 May 2004

Unbeknown to many Andy Warhol admirers, the iconic artist had a life-long affinity with the American West, and the Hollywood mythologisation of it. Warhol’s 1986 Cowboys and Indians series portrays a variety of images, representing the real history of the West, as well as the constructed Hollywood fiction of cowboys and Indians. Warhol makes calculated juxtapositions between fictional Hollywood characters such as Annie Oakley and John Wayne with real and influential historical figures, such as Geronimo and Teddy Roosevelt. There is undeniable tension between the mythical fantasy of the sensationalised Wild West heroes, and the reality of the exploitation of Native Americans at the hands of colonisers.

Warhol’s fascinated with the Wild West can be traced back to his childhood. As a child growing up in the ‘30s and 40’s in America, he would have undoubtedly been inundated with Western films, and all the macho heroes and Native American villains associated with them. This was the last major series Warhol created before his unexpected death in 1987 and it seems rather poetical that its subject was that of a lifelong obsession. His life ended where it started. In adulthood, Warhol was so obsessed with the Western films that he directed two himself. ‘Horse’ (1965) and ‘Lonesome Cowboys’ (1968) were both parodies of the genre, exploring homosexuality within cowboy culture. They act as a testament to Warhol’s fascination with Western movies, but simultaneously mock it, showing Warhol’s critique of the macho culture it cultivates. However, the Hollywood Western films were problematic in their lack of social consciousness. They presented a glamourised void of reality, and never reflected the most important themes of authority and victimisation.

For more information on any of the artworks featured and to buy original Andy Warhol prints, contact Andipa Editions.