Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



Monkmans acrylic painting The Triumph of Mischief is the central subject of this investigation which includes its relationship to other paintings and objects in the installation The Triumph of Mischief. By applying Mieke Bal's narratology theory, the principles of carnivals as proposed by Mikhail Bahktin, the four dichotomies underlying Western movies, Monkman's appropriation of older art work, his use of various binary opposites and his inclusion of iconographic details from various art history epochs are explained. Investigating the painting from a postcolonial and postmodern theoretical angle demonstrates that several iconic images from Western art history are decolonized by mocking and undermining their intentions. Through the insertion of Native Americans and the leadership of a third gender indigenous person, Monkman reappropriates the land for Native cultures and reintroduces the acceptance of a gender spectrum. By comparison and contrast I show that Monkman ridicules iconographic conventions established since the Renaissance regarding gender roles. In a similar fashion he derides visual traditions pertaining to Lewis Henry Morgan's theory of cultural evolution and other epistemologies based on ethnocentric ideologies. iv Particular targets are the academic fields of anthropology and art history, including specific artists such as George Catlin and Albert Bierstadt, museums and other institutions. My examination supports a postmodern reading of The Triumph of Mischief and establish that Monkman critiques both overtly and covertly several universalist meta-narratives such as Western civilization, the Myth of the Empty West, the Myth of the Vanishing Race, stereotypes regarding Native Americans, Western movies and the Catholic Church.'



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Buick, Kirsten

Second Committee Member

Fry, Aaron


postcolonialism, postmodernism, carnivalesque, stereotypes regarding Native Americans, Native American, gender spectrum