Born in 1937 in Breckenridge, Minnesota, Fritz Scholder became a prominent Indian portrait, figure, and genre painter in Arizona. His father was part Indian, and Fritz Scholder chose to focus his art work on this part of his lineage and to express both an appreciation and disdain for Indian customs, traditions, and daily existence.
In his work, he frequently showed the harsh, realistic side of Indians' lives and deaths including the affects of alcohol and other dissipations, but some of his depictions are humorous such as Indians on horseback carrying umbrellas. His brush-work is generally swift, and the tone often sombre and surreal. A major influence on his work was the contemporary British artist, Francis Bacon, from whom Scholder adapted ironic distortions into his canvases.
In a "New York Times" interview, August 12, 2001, Scholder said that in spite of the death-related items with which he surrounds himself, "I consider myself a natural optimist which might be surprising, because I like the dark side of things. That's simply because of intellectual curiosity. I celebrate each day. I truly wake up happy every morning."
Fritz Scholder died February 10, 2005 at age 67 in Scottsdale.