Amon Carter print details

American Indian Symbols

Marsden Hartley (1877-1943)

Object Details

  • Date


  • Object Type


  • Medium

    Oil on canvas

  • Dimensions

    39 1/4 x 39 1/4 in.

  • Inscriptions


    u.c. in graphite on wood plaque attached to stretcher: MARSDEN HARTLEY \ EST NO 223C C-10856

    [removed] label in ink: TR 7101

    [removed] printed label: APG 5441

    [removed] printed label: APG 14669D

    [removed] printed label: [H & A logo] HIRSCHL & ADLER \ Galleries inc. \ 21 East 70th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021 \ ARTIST: Marsden Hartley [typewritten] \ NUMBER: APG 5441 [typewritten] \ TITLE: American Indian Symbols [typewritten and underlined] \ MEDIUM: oil on canvas [typewritten] \ SIZE: 39 x 39 in. [typewritten] \ DATE:

    [removed] printed label: [H & A logo] HIRSCHL & ADL [torn] \ Galleries inc. \ 21 East 70th Street, New York, N.Y. [torn] \ [torn]: Marsden Hartley \ [torn]MBER: APG 11345D [typewritten] \ TITLE: Ame[torn]an Indi[torn] [typewritten and underlined] \ M[torn] Oil [torn] [typewritten]

    [removed] printed label: [H & A logo] Hirschl & Adler \ Galleries, Inc. \ 21 East 70th Street, New York, N.Y. 10021 \ ARTIST: Marsden Hartley \ (1877-1943) \ NUMBER: APG 14669D \ TITLE: American Indian Symbols [underlined] \ MEDIUM: Oil on canvas \ SIZE: 39 x 39 inches \ DATE:

    [removed] printed label: M "Pop Art & the Amer. Tradition" [typewritten] \ April 8 - May 9, 1965 [typewritten] \ Hartley AMERICAN INDIAN SYMBOLS [typewritten] \ Le[n]t by John Brady, Jr. \ Des Moines, Iowa [typewritten] \ MILWAUKEE ART CENTER \ 750 N. LINCOLN MEMORIAL DRIVE, MILWAUKEE 2, WISCONSIN

    [removed] label in ink: Collection Pa[torn] \ American \ Indian \ Symbols

  • Credit Line

    Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, Texas

  • Accession Number


  • Copyright

    Public domain

Object Description

While living in Berlin, Germany, in 1914, Hartley developed a progressive style in a series he called his “Amerika” paintings—abstract compositions incorporating American Indian motifs. Using chiefs’ blankets, headdresses, shields, and tipis, the artist reinterpreted them in brightly colored rhythmic patterns. The shape of the centralized tipi in this work from the series, repeated on each side of the canvas, centers the recurring designs in the image, including the wheel-like stars at the top.

Hartley created this work for a German audience fascinated by the pageantry of Wild West shows and American Indian culture. The black-and-white checked banner on the right side of the canvas refers to the German military. A few months after the artist finished this painting, Germany declared war on Russia and World War I began.

Additional details

Location: Off view
See more by Marsden Hartley


Educator Resources
  • How do artists use simple geometric shapes to make complex compositions?

    What role does symmetry play in a work of art?

    What is a symbol, and why might an artist incorporate symbols in a work of art?

    How have representations of Black, Indigenous, people of color, and other marginalized communities changed over time?

  • Grades Pre-K–1

    Activity 1
    Have students fold a sheet of paper in half and practice drawing shapes on one side. Then have students unfold the sheet and practice creating symmetry on the other half.

    Activity 2
    Read the book And to Name Just a Few: Red, Yellow, Green, Blue by Laurie Rosenwald. Point out how the artist has used red, white, and blue in his painting. Ask students what other objects they know of that are these three colors and have them sketch these objects in the appropriate colors.

    All Levels

    Have students think of all the symbols that are significant in their everyday lives and create a portrait of themselves incorporating these symbols.

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