Stephen Mopope, American (Ka’igwu), 1898–1974 

Publisher: C. Szwedzicki, Villa les Chenes, Au Piol, Nice, France

Art and craft became a source of economic development for Plains cultures in the early 20th century. A group of young Plains artists from Oklahoma, who came to be known as the “Kiowa Five,” became international celebrities in the 1920s and 1930s. This print is based on a watercolor by Stephen Mopope, the oldest and most prolific of the Kiowa Five painters.

Kiowa Warrior on Horseback, number 15 from the portfolio Kiowa Indian Art: Watercolor Paintings in Color by the Indians of Oklahoma

  • Published 1929
  • Pochoir print
  • 14 15/16 × 11 1/2 in.

Hood Museum of Art, Dartmouth College: Transferred from the Dartmouth College Library; 2008.1.15

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The Kiowa Five were inspired by historic Plains painting, like images on buffalo hides and tipis as well as ledger art. Their images were generally made up of single or grouped figures in dramatic poses. They celebrated nostalgic social scenes of Kiowa life and the spectacle of Native American dances and ritual. Their painting style typically includes solid color fields, a limited background, a flat perspective, and an emphasis on detail.

As the Kiowa Five became nationally and internationally known, a national Indian Fine Arts movement took root in the West, combining the new styles from the Southwest (see, for example, works by Tonita Vigil Peña and Velino Shije Herrera) and the Plains. The Indian Fine Arts movement was driven by European American tastes and ideas about what “Indian art” and representations of “Indians” should look like. Museums and art schools encouraged young artists to produce “authentic” paintings inspired by hide painting and ledger art. These young artists, who had not known life before the reservation, became successful in the international art market by producing romantic depictions of a generalized Native American lifestyle. These images soon evolved into the iconic stereotypes of the American Indian that continue to appear in American popular culture today.

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Search the Plains region of the Hood Museum of Art’s collection database to see other works by the Kiowa Five.


Plains: Economics