Stylistically, Scholder’s Indians took cues from the work of painters that he had studied with Thiebaud. Perhaps most important among these was
. Edward Lucie-Smith, the British writer and art critic, wrote
in a 1993 catalogue essay for a survey of Scholder’s work that for both artists, “the image itself seems to be in a state of transition, slipping from one mood or state to another.” Indeed, Scholder’s depictions of American Indians vacillate between the perception of tradition and the reality of contemporary society.
“…[M]y work startled many people because I, part-Indian, treated the Indian differently, not as the ‘noble savage’ endlessly portrayed by White painters, and also because my technique was non-Indian,” Scholder wrote. “I felt it to be a compliment when I was told that I had destroyed the traditional style of Indian art, for I was doing what I thought had to be done.”
The artist worked on his “Indian Series” for over a decade, juxtaposing artifacts of “white society” with portraits of tribal life as he saw it. Some, like Indian with a Beer Can from 1969, address the scourge of alcoholism that continues to afflict many Native communities today.