Geronimo 384 is a screenprint from the Cowboys and Indians series. In this series, Warhol explores the Old West as an All-American collective history. Geronimo 384 depicts the prominent Native American leader of the Apache tribe and medicine man of the same name. He was highly regarded in the community but was largely taken advantage of when serving as a prisoner of war, where tourists pay to harass him or take a piece of his clothing. Since then, Geronimo’s history has been largely erased, being subbed for a caricature that has been featured across media and often portrayed by white actors. Warhol’s work creates a commentary on mass media and the way in which contrived imagery can affect how we understand our history. Images of Geronimo, Annie Oakley and Mother and Child are based on characters in the Hollywood adaptation of our history and do not truly represent the roles that these real individuals historically played.
GERONIMO 384 AS PART OF ANDY WARHOL’S LARGER BODY OF WORK
Warhol interspersed recognizable portraits of well-known American heroes– John Wayne, Annie Oakley, Teddy Roosevelt, and General George Custer–with less familiar Native American images and motifs in his ironic commentary on Americans’ collective mythologizing of the historic West. Rather than portraying Native Americans within their historical landscape, or Cowboys in their veritable forms, Warhol chose to portray a popular, romanticized version of the American West. The West that he chose to represent is familiar to everyone and can be seen in novels, films, TV series. Warhol’s Cowboys and Indians Suite is an ahistorical representation that mirrors a popular interpretation of the American West.