Fritz Scholder was born 1937 in Breckenridge, Missouri. In 1957, Scholder’s family settled in Sacramento, California where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at Sacramento State University. Painter, Wayne Thiebaud introduced Scholder to the Pop art movement in Sacramento and also arranged his first solo exhibition. After graduating from S.S.U., Scholder taught public school in Sacramento and in 1961, he won a scholarship to the Southwest Indian Art Project at the University of Arizona, where he earned a Master of Fine Arts degree. He taught painting and art history at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico from 1964 to 1969. From early on in his career, Scholder received support from the Rockefeller, Whitney and Ford Foundations.
After spending five years teaching in Santa Fe, Scholder retired from teaching to paint full-time and for the next few years, he traveled in North Africa and Europe. To his artistic activities, he added sculpture and printmaking, creating mixed-media constructions, etchings, bronzes, monotypes and lithographs. He produces his works in series, which included Indians, cats, dogs, women, landscapes, dreams, butterflies, the Empire State Building and ancient Egypt.
Scholder has served as guest artist or artist- in-residence at American University, the Idyllwild School of Music and the Arts, the Oklahoma Arts Institute, Santa Fe Institute of Fine Arts and Dartmouth College. He has received grants from arts organizations in France and Germany and from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
Some eleven books have been published about Fritz Scholder and his work and he was the subject of two documentaries for public television. During a single year, exhibitions of his work were seen in Japan, China, France, Germany, and at the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg, Russia.