S is for Stephen Mopope

Helbing Collection A-Z is a continuing feature of our blog. Each week, I will highlight an item or items from our Helbing Collection of Native American Arts and Crafts.

Stephen Mopope (1898–1974) was a Kiowa painter, dancer, and flute player who was born on the Kiowa Reservation in Oklahoma Territory. His relatives, including his great-uncles Silver Horn and Fort Marion ledger artist Ohettoint, recognized his artistic talent at an early age and taught him traditional Kiowa painting techniques. He was the most prolific member of the Kiowa Five. The Kiowa Five reached international acclaim for their artwork and considered significant in the development of Native American painting, bridging the era of Ledger Art to flatstyle Southern Plains painting. While not the first Native Americans to be successful in the international fine art world, their career proved inspirational to many Native artists in the 20th century.

We are fortunate to have one of Stephen Mopope paintings in the collection. Cleora wrote, “This painting of three Kiowa dancers was done by Steve Mopope, one of the famous Kiowa painters. The Kiowa artists have painted many beautiful pictures, both in Oklahoma and Washington, D.C. Their Indian pictures are very expensive because of the fine line work which they do.”

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