National Gallery of Art acquires “I See Red: Target” by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith

The National Gallery of Art has announced the acquisition of “I See Red: Target” (1992) by Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, the first painting by a Native American artist to enter the collection. Smith, an enrolled Salish member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Nation in Montana, is one of the most highly respected artists of the past 40 years. An impressive 11-foot-tall mixed-media work on canvas, “I See Red: Target” addresses both local and national conversations around the commercial branding of Indigenous American identity through Smith’s deftly layered assemblage of printed ephemera and painterly touches.

“I See Red: Target” (1992), made in a significant year for the artist, belongs to an ongoing series begun in response to the quincentenary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas. The painting is currently on view in the East Building Pop art galleries, installed among works by Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol – artists who have also incorporated recognizable imagery into their signature styles. Smith makes clear reference to Johns’ Target (1958), displayed across the room, in her title and in the topmost element of “I See Red: Target.” She has said the work is both a nod to Johns’ famous Target and a riff on art history, taking a well-known image and “flipping” it to present a view of Native America. Like another nearby work in the gallery, Warhol’s “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” (Rauschenberg Family) (1962), Smith’s work makes use of the grid, repetition, photographic elements, and painterly effects to create a memorable image-field. In contrast to Warhol, Smith humanizes her subject.

Smith grew up on the Flathead Reservation in Montana. She holds a BA in art education from Framingham State College (now Framingham State University) in Massachusetts, and an MA in visual arts from the University of New Mexico. In addition, Smith has been awarded honorary doctorates from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Massachusetts College of Art, and the University of New Mexico for her work and outreach to a wide spectrum of audiences. Smith’s roles as artist, teacher, curator, and activist have resulted in hundreds of exhibitions over the course of 40 years, featuring both her work and that of other artists, across the United States and in Europe. A prolific artist, Smith’s works often include imagery and objects from everyday life, past and present, and invite close reading to challenge received notions and cultural signs referencing Native Americans.

“I See Red: Target” (1992) by Smith joins 24 works – either photographs or works on paper – by Native American artists currently in the Gallery’s permanent collection. Other artists represented include Sally Larsen, Victor Masayesva Jr and Kay WalkingStick. The gallery mounted the exhibition “Contemporary American Indian Painting (1953)”, featuring 115 paintings by 59 Native American artists.

The National Gallery of Art and its Sculpture Garden are on the National Mall between 3rd and 9th Streets at Constitution Avenue NW. For information, 202-737-4215 or www.nga.gov

Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, “I See Red: Target,” 1992, mixed media on canvas, overall (three parts): 134 by 42 inches, National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased with funds from Emily and Mitchell Rales.

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