Russell Means, American Indian Activist and Subject of Warhol Series, Is Dead at 72

Andy Warhol, 'The American Indian (Russell Means),' 1976
Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery
Andy Warhol, 'The American Indian (Russell Means),' 1976
Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery
Andy Warhol, 'The American Indian (Russell Means),' 1976
Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery
Andy Warhol, 'The American Indian (Russell Means),' 1976
Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery
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Andy Warhol, 'The American Indian (Russell Means),' 1976
Courtesy Skarstedt Gallery

Russell Means, an American Indian of the Oglala Sioux who made a name for himself combating injustices against Native Americans, died today at the age of 72. As it happens, Andy Warhol’s portraits of the late activist are currently on view as the first show at Skarstedt’s new gallery in London.

When the London exhibition, “Andy Warhol: The American Indian Paintings and Drawings,” opened on Oct. 10, during Frieze Week, it was just one of many events vying for the attention of fair goers. Now it is likely to gain considerably more attention.

As one of the most celebrated Indians since Sitting Bull, Mr. Means attracted much media coverage for events he organized for the American Indian Movement. He was also the strapping actor who appeared in Hollywood films like The Last of the Mohicans and ran for the governorship of New Mexico. While these theatrical, attention-grabbing pursuits were scorned by some Native Americans, he was just the kind of glamorous, charismatic subject that could inspire a fellow self promoter like Andy Warhol.

Perhaps you’ll agree, these portraits are the result of a match made in silkscreen heaven.

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