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Fritz Scholder’s Power Portraits Are In Demand as Interest Grows in Modern Native American Art

3 min read  ·  30 May 2024

Fritz Scholder (detail) Dartmouth Portrait #3 (1973). Copyright the Estate of Fritz Scholder, image courtesy of Bonhams

Fritz Scholder (1937-2005), a painter best known for his bold subversion of Native American stereotypes, has seen a 123% increase in his HENI Score over the past three months. The sentiment score is based on media coverage, auction results and exhibitions.

The artist’s work often blends irony and cultural critique, painted in vivid colors and Expressionist and Pop-art inspired compositions. His ability to challenge stereotypes about Native American imagery while navigating the complexities of identity has struck a chord with curators and collectors.


Scholder’s works have seen exceptional results at auction recently: Indian with Umbrella (1970) sold for $330,200, more than four times its low estimate at Sotheby's, New York, on May 14, 2024. His work Dartmouth Portrait #3, (1973) sold for $254,500, 150% above its low estimate at Bonhams, Los Angeles, on April 30, 2024.


Scholder’s profile was boosted by the US touring exhibition "Action/Abstraction Redefined", which placed Modern Native American art within mid-20th-century movements, such as Abstract Expressionism and Color Field painting. The show, which was launched in 2018, was presented by the Saint Louis Museum of Art in 2023. The art museum purchased Scholder’s New Mexico #45(1966) for an undisclosed sum, the first post-war painting by a Native American artist to join its collection.

Galleries including Larsen Gallery, Arizona, and Addison Rowe Gallery, Santa Fe, have offered Scholder’s work. Price points have ranged from $500 to six-figure sums up to $200,000.


Born in Minnesota, Scholder was part Luseino, a California Mission tribe, but he did not grow up in a Native American community. As a young artist he studied with the artist Wayne Thiebaud in Sacramento. Scholder received a MFA in 1964, the year he sold the first of several paintings to the US Bureau of Indian Affairs. A prolific artist who exhibited internationally, Scholder was a controversial and influential figure. Posters of his paintings were popular in the 1970s among Native people across America.

To find out more about Fritz Scholder and to keep up with news about the artist, follow his HENI News Dashboard

At a glance: Fritz Scholder's Dashboard. Copyright HENI News