Martin Grelle (born 1954) Warriors 40 1/8 x 60 1/8in (Painted in 1996.)

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Lot 28
Martin Grelle
(born 1954)
Warriors 40 1/8 x 60 1/8in

US$ 200,000 - 300,000
£ 150,000 - 220,000
Martin Grelle (born 1954)
signed with the artist's device and dated 'Martin Grelle © 96 CA' (lower right and on the stretcher bar)
oil on linen
40 1/8 x 60 1/8in
Painted in 1996.


  • Martin Grelle lives on a ranch outside of Clifton, Texas, just a few miles from where he was born and raised. "His studio sits in the picturesque Meridian Creek Valley, surrounded by the oak & cedar-covered hills of Bosque County, just a short distance from his home."1 Interested in art from a young age, Grelle met Cowboy Artists of America (CAA) artists James Boren and Melvin Warren in high school because they lived and worked in his hometown. Boren, in particular, was a strong influence and mentor to the young artist, and instrumental in helping him mount his first one-man show at a local gallery shortly after graduating from high school, in 1973.

    In 1995, Grelle became a member of the CAA, and that same year he was asked to participate in the first Prix de West Invitational at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. In his over 40-year career, Grelle has exhibited widely in galleries and at important Western art shows, and has had 30 one-man exhibitions. He was awarded the Prix de West Purchase Award and the Nona Jean Hulsey Rumsey Buyers' Choice Award each twice, the CA People's Choice Award in 2002, the CA Ray Swanson Award in 2008, the CA Buyer's Choice Award in 2011 and 2012, the CA Silver Award for Water Solubles in 2012, and many others. Grelle actively participates in major invitational exhibitions as well, including The Masters at the Autry Museum and the Quest for the West at the Eiteljorg Museum in Indianapolis. He was awarded the Legacy Award for his impact on western art by The Briscoe Museum, San Antonio in 2012, and had a retrospective of his work, along with Cowboy Artist artist Herb Mignery, at the Gilcrease Museum's Rendezvous Show in 2013.

    Grelle regularly teaches workshops (with fellow Cowboy Artist Bruce Greene) and gives demonstrations and critiques to aspiring art students. He served on the board of directors for the CAA twice, was President 2014-2015, and was Chairman of CAA 50th Anniversary Events during 2015. Grelle is also involved with The Joe Beeler Foundation, founded by the CAA to coincide with their mentoring program, which provides scholarship opportunities for artists seeking to improve their skills.

    "Grelle often refers to his historic paintings as 'period pieces'. In them, he depicts small slices of Western and Native American history, which he has carefully researched to make sure that each detail is authentic, both literally and spiritually. For Grelle, the research leads directly to telling a story on canvas."2 In Warriors, Grelle's careful attention to detail and symbolism abound, as three Plains Indian warriors ride across a painterly mountain landscape.

    Despite a calm pace, the warriors are prepared for battle. Red paint, across the figure's eyes and used to mark the horses, represents war, blood, strength, energy and power. The horses are spiritually prepared for battle – white circles around their eyes and nostrils enhance their sense of sight and smell, and enable them to detect danger more readily. Red handprints on the flanks of the lead horses show that they have successfully accomplished combat missions already. A white snake symbol for medicine zigzagging down the right horse's front leg helps with speed, stealth and strength, and white spot marks nearby are prayers that hail will fall on the enemy. The red bars painted across the front horses' legs may represent the number of war parties the horse and rider have been in together.

    The rich symbolism of the scene continues in the figures' dress and adornments: each warrior has a decorated war shield, intentionally small so as not to limit his range of motion when battling on horseback; the men wear a feather headdress and hair ornaments, and are dressed in fringed and bead-decorated buckskin leggings and shirt. In Warriors, Grelle reminds us at once of the often violent side to Native American tribal life, while also focusing attention on the rich imagery and beauty of Plains Indian decoration.

    2 M. Duty, Cowboy Artists of America, Shelton, The Greenwich Workshop, 2002, p. 50.
Martin Grelle (born 1954) Warriors 40 1/8 x 60 1/8in (Painted in 1996.)
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