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How the West was Won

© the estate of Donald G. Rodney. Photo credit: Tate

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Rodney made this work when he was still a student and it is one of his first political works. Referencing the 1962 Hollywood film of the same title, he has challenged the traditional American portrayal of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in the colonisation of the American West. Whereas the film depicted the colonisation as a brave and exciting struggle, Rodney’s painting suggests a less heroic and more crudely violent narrative. The phrase painted around the figure on the left ‘The only good Indian is a dead Indian’ is a saying attributed to the United States Army General Philip Sheridan in 1869.

Tate Britain



How the West was Won




acrylic paint on canvas


H 120 x W 121.5 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by the Donald Rodney Estate 2007

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Tate Britain

Millbank, London, Greater London SW1P 4RG England

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