Andy Warhol’s print Annie Oakley (F. & S. II. 378) from his Cowboys And Indians series (1986) is a portrait of the famous American exhibition shooter and sharpshooter who starred in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show. The series encapsulates America’s romanticised vision of the American West in popular culture, as it is depicted literature, film, and television.
Warhol makes a political comment on the way in which mass-produced and idealised images of national history in popular culture can alter and sometimes be a detriment to the understanding of that history. Appropriating a highly recognisable image of Oakley, Warhol’s portrait is stripped of its historical context through the use of luminous colours and removal of the original image’s background. The image shows Oakley ready for a performance, donning a hat and adorned with a multitude of medals, thus focusing on her fame rather than her person or historical significance.
Produced by the screen print process and rendered in a kaleidoscope of colour, Warhol draws attention to the fabricated and mass-produced nature of Oakley’s public image that has come to be symbolic of the American West. In Warhol’s renowned Pop Art style, Oakley is depicted here as a legendary pop culture icon, rather than as a historical figure.