Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Masterpieces of Norval Morrisseau I

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MAKER'S WATCH - 60"x 84", © 1979 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/
/Click on image to enlarge/
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36 comments:

Anonymous said...

Masterpiece!

Thunderbear-Canadian Art Gallery
eBay vendor:thunderbear888
Michael R.Moniz

Anonymous said...

Thunderbear-Canadian Art Gallery
eBay vendor:thunderbear888
Michael R.Moniz

C.T. give me answers to this...

Now that the Globe and Mail article of April 23/05 has revealed
the controversy concerning fakes and the government invest-
igation of the business practices of Kinsman Robinson Galleries,
many other facts are coming to light.
Allegations by Don Robinson of fake Morrisseaus first appeared
in a National Post article on May 18/01. In that article Don Rob-
inson declared that Morrisseau had identified 23 paintings as
fakes.
A collector brought the paintings to Robinson for appraisal.
Don Robinson complimented the collector on his collection, and
cautioned him to ensure that it was well insured. Instead Rob-
inson caused the May 18 article to appear, without consulting
the collector. In the article Robinson said he was suspicious
for some time, yet two weeks earlier he was complimentary of
the pieces.
In the article Robinson indicated that he purchased a few
paintings from the same source. In fact, he purchased 28
canvasses, in auctions held from September 29,1999 to
March 8,2000. He also purchased a single painting by another
native artist, which he deemed fake and returned for credit. A
statement from the auctioneer indicates that Robinson never
attempted to return any of the Morrisseaus. The statement
further advises that Robinson bid on 40-60 other paintings,
while actively encouraging others at the auction to purchase
the Morrisseau paintings. Statements also reveal that Robinson
was concerned about the number of paintings being auctioned
as he was not selling them as quickly as he was buying them.
Don Robinson sought the source of the paintings being auc-
tioned and tried to convince him to sell only to Don Robinson.
The consignor refused. The consignor indicated that he had
collected over 500 pieces since 1980, when he first met Mor-
risseau at a friend's house in Thunder Bay, and had a chance
to watch him work. The consignor noted that Don Robinson had
re-sold over 50 paintings that had been owned by the consignor
and sold by him to others.
The consignor also pointed out a piece Battle for Life featured
in the Globe and Mail on April 10, 1999 came from his collec-
tion. He also notes a piece that hangs in the prime minister's
office as being from his collection. "I'm sure you get the point"
he says.
Following this article the collector, whose pieces were alleged
fakes, requested, through his lawyer, a copy of Norval Morris-
seau's affidavit. Don Robinson has consistently refused to
provide it.
In order to prove legitimacy to their pieces the collector, along
with others, including Toronto galleries who had pronounced
the pieces genuine, commissioned a report on the signatures,
(in English 'Norval Morrisseau') on the front and back of the
paintings. Document Examination Consultants Inc. were prov-
ided letters and pictures of paintings from Morrisseau and con-
cluded that the signatures able to be read were, in their expert
opinion, by the hand of Norval Morrisseau. This can be con-
sidered solid evidence of the legitimacy of the pieces.
The next affidavit from Morrisseau was March 14,2003,directed
at Maslak-McLeod Gallery's web site and alleging four pieces
to be fakes. For example, the piece Self-Portrait,Copper Thun-
derbird called a fake in the affidavit, was consigned by the
Mayor of Red Lake,Ontario who acquired it from Norval Morris-
seau himself, according to Joe McLeod.
On April 24,2003 following issuance of a catalogue The Devel-
opment of the Woodland School of Art, Morrisseau signed an-
other affidavit pointing out alleged fakes in the catalogue. It is
extremely important to note the contents of this affidavit. Six
pieces alleged to be fakes in the affidavit of May 18,2001 (Nat-
ional Post article) were no longer deemed to be fake. Battle
for Life referred to earlier as the masthead of the Globe and
Mail article (April 10,1999) accompanied by an interview with
Morrisseau is alleged fake by Morrisseau some 14 years later.
How can anyone take these affidavits seriously?
It is evident that Morrisseau often changes his mind as to what
is real or fake.
On May 7,1994, Karl Comete witnessed the following at Kinsman
Robinson Gallery and has detailed it in a statement: "A man ask-
ed Morrisseau to autograph a photo of a painting he recently
purchased from the gallery. Morrisseau loudly denied it was
his work. Robinson rushed over, reassured the man and
guaranteed the work's authenticity. The tension was palpable
to all present as Morrisseau, unpersuaded, proclaimed he
would sign the photograph only to 'save your [Robinson's]ass'".
Mr.Comete also points out that Robinson has said that Morrisseau
paintings do not have faded English signatures on the back. Mr.
Comete advises that he purchased a painting directly from Rob-
inson in 1993 with exactly that type of signature. Also of note,
Mr.Comete points out that for a self-professed expert, Mr. Robin-
son's statements about Morrisseau's syllabic signatures as being
'not quite right' are quite surprising. Morrisseau's signature is
often different, being tailored to the painting, Mr.Comete points
out. A painting The Storyteller The Artist and His Grandfather
published in The Art of Norval Morrisseau is missing the third
syllabic letter. In a 1991 article in Artpost Robinson states that:
"Morrisseau has always signed his paintings and drawings with
his Indian name in Ojibwa syllabics". Morrisseau did not use
syllabics until the early 1960s. Before then he signed the back
of the work, or initialed the front. In addition, the syllabics are
Cree, not Ojibway. Don Robinson is a relative newcomer to
the Morrisseau marketplace.
On August 18,1999 Kinsman Robinson Galleries appraised two
Morrisseau canvasses for Matt Fountain. The appraisal clearly
states under Provenance "Kahn Country Auctions,Pickering;
Private Collector,Thunder Bay". On October 30,2001, 5 months
after the National Post article, Kinsman Robinson Galleries ap-
praised two Morrisseau canvasses for Jonas Plis, also pur-
chased at Kahn Country Auctions. Recently, a further affidavit
allegedly from Morrisseau dated March 5,2005 alleged fakes
were being sold on a Toronto gallery website. Once again, the
affidavit conflicted with earlier affidavits as to what was real
and what was what Morrisseau called fake.
To summarize: affidavits from Mr.Morrisseau put forward by
Robinson/Milrad are entirely unreliable. While, as the recent
Globe and Mail article suggests, Mr.Morrisseau may be saner
than ever, he cannot be taken seriously as able to identify his
entire body of work, said to be as much as 9000 pieces. On
the other hand, serious collectors and reputable, long-term gal-
leries have provided both appraisals and forensic evidence to
support the legitimacy of the work. As the Globe and Mail ar-
ticle points out, much of his life was spent under the influence
of drugs and alcohol. To expect anyone to remember details
of their life in such an existence would be unrealistic. Lawyer
Milrad, in the Globe and Mail article of April 23,2005 remains
convinced that forged Morrisseaus are being produced. He has
presented no credible evidence of any kind. Lawyer Milrad is
further quoted who exactly is supposed to authenticate if it
can't be Morrisseau and a committee formed on his behalf.
The affidavits from Morrisseau put forth by lawyer Milrad clearly
tell us that Morrisseau cannot be relied on. Ever since the
National Post article of May 18,2001 in which Don Robinson
revealed that he was fooled, he has put forth affidavits from
Norval Morrisseau, never giving his own opinion. Realizing
from the evidence at hand that neither Don Robinson nor Norval
Morrisseau are capable to authenticate Morrisseau paintings,
each of us must rely on those people who over the course of
many years have proven themselves trustworthy and capable.
As Joseph McLeod pointed out in the Globe and Mail article,
there are many non-commercial, academic types fully capable
to judge the validity of a Morrisseau painting. As to Kinsman Rob-
inson Galleries being the exclusive representative of Norval
Morrisseau, we note that Mr.Morrisseau has not painted for
several years. There are many galleries dealing with Morris-
seau's work, several of them for periods of time longer than
Kinsman Robinson. Should, in the years to come, there be clear
and compelling evidence for a need to form a committee to id-
entify Morrisseau's work then surely those who have been
party to the events described herein should have nothing
to do with its formation or membership.

Anonymous said...

Thunderbear-Canadian Art Gallery
eBay vendor:thunderbear888
Michael R.Moniz
SKYPE ID:michaelrockefellor

Did you write this C.T?

I, like many would be intrested in knowing the origins of this work and it's history. I hope TB888 will shed some light and names associated with it ,to simply state that it came from a "private" collection would be a joke and an insult to those who seek the truth.
Spirit Walker, how can you be sure this is authentic? are you aware of the origin of this work?there are countless items in circulation that are very good works, but not authentic. have you personally inspected the work? I doubt anyone could conclude a works authenticity from a picture.
please don't take my questions as an accusation of any kind, just as blunt direct questions.
bravo for the blog..

Spirit Walker said...

Paintings of this quality do not necessarily need provenance.

All of the elements on this painting and "Spiritual power" that emanates from it give indication that it cannot be anyone else's work rather than of the Master himself - Norval Morrisseau.

Megweetch

Anonymous said...

I guess that is where the debate begins - does it need provenance or not. I guess for some it does and others it does not - they are taken by the beauty and power of the painting (as I am) and accept it as a Morrisseau without any knowledge of where it came from but knowledge/expertise of Morrisseau's paintings.

Lets not argue provenance of paintings. I would just be really interested in knowing how there is such a huge mass of paintings from the 70's that seem to be questioned (by some and it would appear that the number questiong are out numbered by those supporting) and that do not have much of a story behind them. Does anyone have insight in to where they came from without naming names? Can anyone share anything?

Anonymous said...

Spirit Walker,

As a Morrisseau connoisseur and collector, I have come to know the staff at KRG over the years.

I have followed the so-called "government investigation of the business practices of Kinsman Robinson Galleries."

I can tell you at first hand this complaint was filed with the Competition Bureau and fairly quickly dropped because it was found to have "no merit."

To be fair, any other version simply is not based on factual information.

Respectfully,
BJL, Oakville

Spirit Walker said...

To "BJL"...

Please, do not direct that statment to me because I have not posted the comment that you are reffering to... I am just the one who is providing platform for communication and I cannot stand behind words that I have not written.

Thanks!

Spirit Walker said...

There is huge mass of the paintings from the 1970s because we are deling here with Norval Morrisseau - the most prolific artist in human history.

Media mentioned that they are looking for 10,000 paintings to register. I believe that he painted more than 20,000 paintings which would make him more prolific than Pablo Picasso who painted/drawn 13,500 paintings and images.

Proving the above statement of mine could take someone's lifetime.

Paintings originate from Manitoba and Ontario where he spent large amount of time in that period.

For any other questions and clarifications you may contact me at spiritwalker2008@gmail.com

Megweetch

Bryant Ross said...

I agree that the above is a beautiful painting. Probably the best that I have seen in this style. Unfortunatly it is not Morriseau's style. I do not see how a painting of this stature does not have provenance or how it can be said that it does not need it.

Anonymous said...

Who would believe Bryant - believe it or not a large number of people. I still am not stating that these paintings are fake Morrisseau but I wonder if 'others' were involved in their creation creating a school of Morrisseau (still with merit as a Morrisseau). Provenance is important in the art world and he raises a good question - how could a piece like this - of the size and a masterpiece as claimed here - just appear without anyone knowing the origin. Or perhaps the origin is known but being hidden for what ever reason.

Anonymous said...

I concur with spirit walker on this one. B. R. should stick to dealing with pieces that Gabe supplies. How you have been in business as long as you have astounds me after reading the last statement.

Anonymous said...

Thunderbear-Canadian Art Gallery
eBay vendor:thunderbear888
Michael R.Moniz
SKYPE ID: michaelrockefellor
email:bluenova999@rogers.com

"Unfortunatly it is not Morriseau's style."

The above quotation came from Bryant Ross.

What makes you think the "Style is not Morrisseau Mr.Ross?
Please answer this question in as much detail as possible and with your experience in this art genre to back up your judgement.So that we may better understand your reasons behind the above quoted statement.Thank you

Anonymous said...

Point fingers at Bryant (who is most likely still sleeping at this time) but why not answer some questions as well. What is the provenance of the pieces you are selling? Have you ever answered that?

Anonymous said...

(in my opinion)It is astounding that anyone would buy from Bryant Ross. All his paintings are in fact totally different and of a different style..poor. The only reason why he is in business is because of Gabe his continuous "other" supplier. I can see why Ross would believe the above is a fake. I guess since being around Morrisseau's much LONGER THAT BRYANT ROSS ( late 70's), I can distinguish the difference. SRD

Anonymous said...

here..here srd. I, like yourself, have dealt and loved Norvals work since the 70"s I think you are on point with that statement regarding b.r. m.g.

Anonymous said...

HELLO - any body have an answer. SRD and MG can attack Bryant but nobody seems to have any comments on where this mass of 70's paintings came from or why none seem to have provenance. Why? Do not attack me - I own four of these paintings (1976 - 1978) as well as a couple purchased at galleries with provenance. I, as a collector and fan of Morrisseau, would just like some light shed on where these paintings came from but no answers.....

Anonymous said...

( In my opinion)Where did the mass of continuous paintings come from? Simple, directly from Morrisseau himself in the 70's. What kind of provenance will you get when he was destitute at the time? These paintings exchanged hands many times..The reason no provenance then is because Gabe/ROSS/Kinsmen weren't around back then to dictate the market. Where does/did Gabe get his continuous flow of paintings? One day his walls are full of paintings then emptied, then filled up again. Who is/were painting these? WHERE DID "THEY" COME FROM? Any answer to this? ANYONE? SRD

Anonymous said...

SRD - thanks! Not sure why it took so long for someone to say that. He seemed to paint a lot during these years!

Out of interest - anyone that had direct experience with Morrisseau please respond...how long would it take him to complete a piece similar to the one shown in the blog below that Michael Moniz has included?

Anonymous said...

Aside from all that... I love this piece. It looks VERY much like one of Norval's works. It's well known that Norval often bartered paintings for items... Some which he was known to consume and woudl not likely advertise... When he bartered, he often destroyed provenance...

Anonymous said...

GG in ON States the following.

I casually knew Norval between 1968and 1972 or so, it was a brief and strange friendship of sorts ,often complicated by his over indulgance.
frauds always infuriated Norval even during these early years, and most certainly evident in his final years.( Toronto Sun article Nov 07?
I never saw Norval again after 72/73, but during those meetings I did witness several "outbursts" over the same topic we discuss here. I will not respond in this blog to specifics regarding personal details of my brief "friendship" with Norval,
but I must admit that I have a bad feeling about most of the works in question here.
kind regards to all.

Anonymous said...

I met Norval for the first time in 1978 in Vancouver. A prof at UBC secured a small apt. for him on campus with hopes he would teach a class. Norval was never clear when I pressed him for info on that subject. I was a framer with u frame it on davie st. at the time. a few of us used to meet for drinks at the ambassador hotel after work and it was there where I had the opportunity to meet him socially for the first time. We had done framing for him in the past but that was it. Getting back to that particular evening, he invited us back to his apt at UBC. With beer in hand we went to Norvals apt. When I walked into his apt. there must have been 60 canvases, all different sizes nailed to the walls of the apt. I can remember bottles and paints strewen all around the place. I will never forget how he lit up when he explained the process in which he painted each piece. I cherish that evening with the master and will always remember it. As to where all the paintings from the 70"s come from I would have to say Norval Morrisseau. M.G.

M said...

Why is it that Morrisseau did not sign paintings in the 60's, 80's, and 90's with the black paint on the back?
Why is it that the 70's paintings with very good provenance have not been signed on the back with black paint?
Why do the 70's paintings with good provenance look "different" from the ones signed on the back with black paint?
It makes you wonder.
M

Anonymous said...

GG in ON again

I sould also point out that Norval had many periods in the 70s in which his "illness" simply prevented him from painting anything. sometimes for periods in excess of 6 months.
comments in this blog would lead us to believe that he must have painted 5 to 8 thousand works during this time? it is simply not possible, as many of the well known works from this period took in some case weeks to complete.
I ask, how can this be?
regards to all.

Anonymous said...

One thing I neglected to mention is that when I asked him how long it took to finish the the 60 or so pieces he laughed and said it could be 2 days or 2 weeks depending on if he needed the money or not....M.G.

Anonymous said...

final post here from GG in ON

as this blog appears to be limited in content, other than slander and silence, I feel I can no longer participate here in good faith.
as I feel legitamate comments and questions are attacked by the "silent" few who claim to seek the truth.
The same few are unresponsive to the truley important questions regarding authenticity.

I thank you for the space to post my few thoughts, and wish all of you a pleaseant good bye.

Anonymous said...

I dont understand GG's last comment and why he has a problem. By sharing personal stories about Norval we will all understand his life better. I know I would like to hear more about his time with Norval. It was well before my time and I feel it would give a good foundation of his earlier days...MG

Anonymous said...

Question - why has no one questioned the early painting of three loons? Says something...

To those that have had personal experiences with Norval himself - thanks for sharing your thoughts openly. Silence seems to be the problem here. Would love to hear from some of the key players but if I was them i would not include any comments on this blog (at least that can be traced directly back)

Anonymous said...

how was my previous question regarding Norval's room at UBC "provoking" ( it was not posted twice?
if you want the truth, you/we need to see through the fraud.
or are you a participant?
many now think so.

Spirit Walker said...

Anonymous posted this:

---regarding the posting above by
MG. could you please share with us the following.

1- in which building did Norval live while at UBC? what floor?

2- what color were the walls in his apt?
3- what was the view from the window?

-----------------------

Let the public know if I was wrog by deleting this comment

Anonymous said...

people are asking for stories behind Norval Morrisseau's life and no sooner there allegations of fraud and lack of integrity. It was 30 years ago and for anybody to remember the view, what building etc. is absurd. The point I was trying to make was that he worked on more than one piece at a time. In hindsight I should not have shared this encounter. MG

Anonymous said...

thank you for reposting my original question
the question was not meant to provoke, but rather to get confirmation of comments made by people who claim to have known Norval.
I think this is important here as we do get both good and bad info here?
thank you again for re-posting

" faith almost restored"

Anonymous said...

many posts,
again my questions are not that hard to remember, these should be very clear to anyone who was in the room?

thank you again

Anonymous said...

I think the question was fair? it would validate the point MG was attempting to make.
I would like to invite everyone in the Toronto area to perhaps meet at a pub? one night a month, or a few times a year to discuss Morrisseau.
I know not all could make it, any takers.
debate is always easier when ideas can be debated in person?
just a thought and an invite?
thanks

Spirit Walker said...

What about "Norval Morrisseau Blog" Chat Room that I had created?

Does anyone want to talk?

Anonymous said...

how do you chat in the Norval Morrisseau blog? I think I say you mention something about Skype by i have no idea what this is!eq

Spirit Walker said...

If anyone does not know how to use "Skype" for communication they can contact me at spiritwalker2008@gmail.com and I will explain the the particulars...