Friday, March 18, 2011

An Indian and a Soldier in Vienna, Austria

Andrea Herrera was in Intro to American Indian Studies, a course I taught at the University of Illinois in its American Indian Studies program. She was in the class in Fall 2010.

Today (March 18th) Andrea sent me the photo shown here. She's in Vienna, Austria this semester. I'm uploading the photo, with her permission. Thanks, Andrea!

It is striking! Many questions come to mind... Obvious ones like... Who painted it? Why? What building is it on? How big is it? When was it put there?

Andrea said the building has other paintings on it, too, and that many of them are also stereotypical.

How to make sense of the painting? Is this a common image that comes to the mind of an Austrian when he/she thinks "United States" or "America"? 

I wonder what sorts of images of Indians I'd find in children's books by Austrian authors/illustrators?

6 comments:

Marjorie said...

Sadly, I suspect the artist thought they were creating an image showing friendship and unity... I can't speak for Austria but here in the UK the stereotypical cowboys and indians notion is still very apparent in many images for children. Contemporary stories featuring Native Americans are shamefully few and far between...

Cheryl said...

Unfortunately, not unlike the images that still show up on greeting cards here.

Rosanne Parry said...

When I lived in Germany I found a great fascination there with the American west. It seems to be fed by the German romantic ideal. So on the one hand they have a highly romanticized view of cowboys and indians. On the other hand, many of them are quite well read in contemporary and classical western literature and history. Many of their art museums have extensive collections of Native American art.
I think the mural suggests an affection for American values, but it's audience is probably much more sophisticated in it's understanding of our history than you would guess from this painting alone.

Polenth said...

I think he may be a sheriff rather than a solider, due to the star badges. He's not your typical stereotyped sheriff - that would be Woody from Toy Story - but I have seen something like it. Playmobil has a sheriff like that. The Playmobil sets also have Indians, all in feathered headdresses.

Looking online, the Playmobil site in America doesn't appear to have the cowboys or Indians, but they were widely available in Europe (it's a German company).

Jean Mendoza said...

It wasn't long ago that Playmobil "Indians" were available in the US though -- teepees and totem poles together.

Anonymous said...

I lived in Spain in the 80's and noticed this fascination with the "Wild West." In fact, we went to a "circus" where a man dressed as Wild Bill Hickock shot balloons with his shot gun. Joining him on stage were a group of "Indians" from the "Grand Rodeo of Idaho" who were white girls dressed in feathers and buckskin and they were..hula-hooping. Yes. Hula Hooping. The Spaniards ate it up though.