Russell Means

image for Russell Means
Exhibition Label
Born Porcupine, South Dakota
Born on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, Russell Means was Oglala Lakota Sioux. In 1968, he joined the American Indian Movement (AIM), a militant activist organization. When AIM occupied Wounded Knee, site of the infamous nineteenth-Century massacre of the Sioux, in 1973, Means was the organization’s spokesperson. The siege grew into a seventy-one day confrontation between armed AIM members and the federal authorities. Means left the group in 1988. Artist Bob Coronato wanted to honor Means, who agreed to sit for him as long as the portrait conveyed that “Indians are not the idea of old Hollywood westerns or to be thought of as ‘in the past’ but a people very much of today, and with a rich history.” The artist and Means decided to include the upside-down flag, a sign used by the Navy as a symbol of distress and that AIM often displayed during protests.
Nacido en Porcupine, Dakota del Sur
Nacido en la Reserva Pine Ridge de Dakota del Sur, Russell Means perteneció a la tribu Sioux Oglala Lakota. En 1968, se unió al Movimiento Indígena Estadounidense (AIM, por sus siglas en inglés), una organización activista militante. Cuando en 1973 la AIM ocupó Wounded Knee, lugar de la infame masacre de los sioux del siglo XIX, Means era el portavoz de la organización. El sitio escaló a una confrontación de setenta y un días entre miembros armados de la AIM y autoridades federales. Means abandonó el grupo en 1988. El artista Bob Coronato quería rendir homenaje a Means, quien accedió a posar para él siempre y cuando el retrato transmitiera que “los indígenas no se parecen a los de los westerns de Hollywood ni deben ser considerados gente ‘atrasada’, sino más bien gente muy actual y con una rica historia”. El artista y Means decidieron incluir la bandera al revés, un signo utilizado por la marina como símbolo de peligro y que la AIM solía usar en sus protestas.
Provenance
The artist; sold 2017 to NPG
Credit Line
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution;
Restrictions & Rights
© 2009 Bob Coronato
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National Portrait Gallery Collection
Exhibition
20th Century Americans: 2000 to Present
On View
NPG, South Gallery 341
2012
Object number
NPG.2017.81
Type
Painting
Culture
Russell Means: Native American\American Indian\Great Plains\Sioux\Oglala
Russell Means: Native American\American Indian\Great Plains\Sioux\Lakota
Artist
Bob Coronato
Sitter
Russell Means, 10 Nov 1939 - 22 Oct 2012
Topic
Costume\Jewelry
Indeterminable
Symbols & Motifs\Flag
Russell Means: Visual Arts\Artist
Russell Means: Male
Russell Means: Literature\Writer
Russell Means: Performing Arts\Performer\Actor
Russell Means: Society and Social Change\Reformer\Activist
Portrait
Place
United States\Wyoming\Crook\Hulett
Medium
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
Stretcher: 188 × 93 × 3.2 cm (74 × 36 5/8 × 1 1/4")
Frame: 192.1 × 96.8 × 5.7 cm (75 5/8 × 38 1/8 × 2 1/4")
National Portrait Gallery