Museum Minute: T.C. Cannon

Apr 3, 2020

Tommy Wayne Cannon, or more commonly known as T.C. Cannon, was Native American artist of the 20th century. He was an enrolled member of the Kiowa Tribe. Karen McWhorter, the curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, said he played an important role in the development of contemporary Native art.

“Whereas traditional Native art is characterized by stylized forms and flattened shapes, Cannon concentrated on Native themes, but integrated modern influences drawn from artists we know well like Vincent Van Gogh,” said McWhorter.

Cannon often included decorative backgrounds. And he combined irony with modern techniques, said McWhorter.

“He was a storyteller. His work is personal and political. It’s multifaceted. It was influenced by his own personal story as a Native person, his own sense of identities, his experience of Native people in the contemporary world, America’s troubled history, social cultural turbulence, politics and even the Vietnam War in which he served,” she said.