​Buffalo Contemplating His Own Mortality

#23 ​Buffalo Contemplating His Own Mortality

John Nieto
American, born 1936

​Buffalo Contemplating His Own Mortality, 1990

Painted wood, and buffalo skull, 48" high

Gift of S. J. and Jessie Eccles Quinney Foundation, NEHMA


John Nieto’s sculpture Buffalo Contemplating His Own Mortality is located inside the S. J. and Jessie E. Quinney Natural Resources Library. Nieto’s most common subjects are Native American figures and the wildlife of western America. While the artist works in a variety of art media, he is best known for his paintings featuring intense primary colors and expressionistic brushstrokes. The three-dimensional wooden sculpture Buffalo Contemplating His Own Mortality depicts a mighty American bison gazing down at a real bison skull. It is from a group of works in which Nieto paints flat silhouettes of animals such as coyotes, wolves, and bison with gestural patchworks of bright colors. Collectively, these works memorialize the “old west” and also ask us to contemplate the “new west.”