Art Showcase

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The Art of Mort Künstler / The American Spirit / The Old West

Here you will find a pictorial chronicle of the drama and excitement of American History. These paintings give the viewer an insight into the tumultuous life of this young nation that mere words cannot achieve.

Brave Warrior

Mort Künstler's Comments
The third painting I did in 1979 on Plains Indians charging on horseback was Brave Warrior. For an artist, it is challenging to take the same subject matter, especially when intrigued by it, and make several completely different paintings. In Brave WarriorI used a very low eye level to give the warrior a heroic look and came in close for a more detailed focus. I completed the painting just in time for m one-man show at Hammer Galleries in New York City on October 22, 1979. The painting was still wet when it was hung for the opening night preview, and it was sold that night.

Everything the warrior wears of carries is made from hide, hair, wood or bone. He is adorned with the eagle feather, which is a mark of bravery. His small, round shield is of particular interest. Decorated with a picture of a buffalo calf, it would have been made of two or three layers of buffalo hide. It could not spare the warrior from bullets, but it could sometimes deflect stone-tipped arrows like those clutched by the rider beside him in this scene. The quirt tied to the warrior's right wrist was probably also made from buffalo hide. His bridle would have been made of woven horsehair.

The long, curved staff he carries is a coup stick. The ancient practice of touching an enemy with a stick, instead of killing him, demonstrated a warrior's bravery and deadliness. The name attached to the practice is French, because in early contacts with these tribes French observers noted the practice of striking the enemy with the staff and called the hits "coups" or blows. Around the campfire, warriors entertained each other and competed for higher status in the tribe by reciting their deeds of bravery. Recalling the number of times they had slain or struck an enemy was called "counting coup."

Date Created: 1979


All illustrations by Mort Künstler. Text by Michael Aubrecht, Dee Brown, Henry Steele Commager, Rod Gragg, Mort Künstler, Edward Lengel, James McPherson, and James I. Robertson, Jr. - Copyright © 2001-2020. All Rights Reserved. No part of the contents of this web site may be reproduced or utilized in any form by any means without written consent of the artist.