Collection Summary

Creator: Nieto, John
Title: Richard Merrill Gift of Prints of John Nieto (Native American Painter)
Accession: MSS 2009-01
Description: 5 prints and 2 books
Photograph Collection: View 0 digitized photographs
Digitized Content: 0 objects
Use Restrictions: There are no restrictions.

Collection Description & Arrangement

Biographical & Historical Information

John Nieto was born in Denver, Colorado, and raised in Roswell, New Mexico, near the Apache reservation. After high school, Nieto's wanderlust took him first to the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, to study Fine Art, and then to France. Nieto immersed himself in Paris' artistic milieu and studied the work of Ingres, David, and Picasso. He was particularly drawn to the French Fauve painters like Henri Matisse, who were known for their bold use of color. Nieto's experience in France clarified his artistic goals and eventually inspired his return to New Mexico. He remembers a moment of revelation on a Paris subway in 1969; a vision that drew him out of the metro crowds and to an Apache ceremonial in his native Southwest. That vision formed in the Paris subway became Nieto's focus: "I'm going to paint my culture and do it eloquently. I want to make a statement about the universality of man."

Nieto has explored a wide variety of media including sculpture, charcoal, lithography, and etching, but his first love remains painting. Although he sees art as an intellectual challenge, he prefers to paint intuitively and believes that "art is not mere technical representation, but communication of feelings, emotions, values and culture." His images of Native American figures and western wildlife grab the viewer with their striking immediacy, bright colors, and strong linear forms.

An artist of international acclaim, Nieto has shown work in Europe, Japan, Latin America, Africa, and the United States. In 1994, he received New Mexico's prestigious Governor's Award for achievement in the arts. Nieto currently lives and works in Corrales, New Mexico, on the banks of the Rio Grande.


Site contributors, "John Nieto," National Museum of Wildlife Art (accessed Decvember 4, 2015)

Acquisition Information

Date Received 2009
Donor Information Professor Richard Merrill gave this collection of five prints to the University of Virginia Law School Library in April of 2009.

Content List


  • Portrait of a Native-American Indian (with white feather).  AP35/45
  • Portrait of General Custer.  AP 35/45
  • Portrait of a Native American Indian (with blue eyelid).  AP35/45
  • Portrait of a Native American Indian (with blue feathers).  AP35/45
  • Portrait of a Native American Indian (with green forehead).  AP 35-45


  • John Nieto.  Tokyo, Japan, Axis Publications, 1989. (Commemoration of the John Nieto Exhibition at the Axis Gallery, Tokyo).
  • John Nieto Retrospective.  Salt Lake City, Utah, Utah Museum of Fine Arts, The University of Utah, 1993. 

Associated People

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Preferred Citation
Unless otherwise stated, digital materials in our collections are available for use under a Creative Commons BY 4.0 License (CC-BY-4.0). For Use and Citation guidelines, see Special Collections Use Policy.