Thursday, December 06, 2007

Native Art Painter Norval Morrisseau Dies At Age 75

On a sadder note, Native art painter Norval Morrisseau passed away at age 75. For those of you who do not know who he is, see the video of his Canadian Museum Civilization art or the article on Woodlands Native art.

The following is the announcement on CBC News;

Norval Morrisseau, one of Canada's foremost aboriginal artists and the founder of an entire art movement, has died.

The Ojibwa shaman and self-taught artist who grew up in northwestern Ontario passed away in the early hours of Tuesday morning in Toronto General Hospital after years of suffering from advanced Parkinson's disease. He was 75.

Known as one of the greatest painters ”native or otherwise” that Canada has ever produced, Morrisseau painted for more than 50 years and gained an international reputation as one of Canada's most original master artists.

In 1989, he had the distinction of being the lone Canadian painter invited to Paris's Museum of Modern Art for the "Magicians of the Earth" exhibition. The French dubbed him the "Picasso of the North."

A member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art since 1970, Morrisseau was known for taking traditional icons that had been expressed in his native culture in rock art and birch bark scrolls, then translating those images into the Western media of easel painting and printmaking.

He became celebrated as the founder of what became commonly called the Woodland style, or school of painting, giving way to a revitalization of Anishnabe iconography. His works, filled with striking colour, inspired generations of Canadian and American native artists as well as imitators, spawning an entire industry of fake reproductions.

In 1978, Morrisseau became a member of the Order of Canada. He also received honorary doctorates from Montreal's McGill University and McMaster University in Hamilton. The Assembly of First Nations presented him with its highest honour in 1995, a presentation of an eagle feather.

In his final months battling Parkinson's disease, the artist was confined to a wheelchair in a residence in Nanaimo, B.C. He was unable to paint due to his poor health.

"Norval Morrisseau's courageous and often controversial approach to his work was instrumental in encouraging First Nations people to know their spirituality, history and culture in order to better understand themselves," Assembly of First Nations National Chief Phil Fontaine said Tuesday in a statement.


Raven said...

For more information and discussion on Norval Morrisseau, you are invited to visit:

Raven Thunderbird

Anonymous said...

Norval Morrisseau is originally from eastern Canada, not the west coast. He resided on the west coast for the last two decades . He is eastern woodlands, he is Ojibwa, he is "Anishnaabe." from northern Ontario! He is proudly Canadian!

He created the whole Anishnaabe art movement. His work can be seen at


Anonymous said...

Interesting website where the art speaks for itself.