Robert ColescottAmerican (Oakland, California, 1925 - 2009, Tucson, Arizona)
End of the Trail
With an attitude that is both satirical and brash, Colescott uses punchy colors and loose brushwork to parody a famous early-twentieth-century sculpture by James Fraser, which shows a defeated Native American warrior on an exhausted horse. Here, the slouching Native American subject has been transformed into a grinning, dark-skinned figure wearing a pair of white briefs and torn sneakers. A cloudy sky of unnatural colors makes up the shallow background.
Colescott's painting is dry, brushy, gaudy in color, and a little crude. During the 1970s, he used humor and irony to address American social issues by replacing selected individuals in historical works of art with black figures. These paintings were unapologetic in their bold manipulation of historical settings and skin color, and they raised important questions about the absence of African Americans in art history.