Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Norval Morrisseau Cree Syllabics' Signature Study (Part I)

Miskwaabik Animikii/Copper Thunderbird (Anishnaabe/English)
Signature of Norval Morrisseau in Cree syllabics
/Click on image in order to analyze execution of Norval Morrisseau's signature/
Note: Norval Morrisseau's wife Harriet Kakegamic (Cree) taught him how to translate his Anishinaabek name Copper Thunderbird into Cree syllabics*.
* A syllabic writing system developed by Methodist missionary James Evans in the 1840s.
Norval Morrisseau's signature in this posting taken from an acrylic painting on masonite (detail size approx. 3"x3"): "Wasakajak", 14"x24", © 1977 Norval Morrisseau /Private Collection/


newmanarts said...

Analysis from an artist’s point of view

Spirit Walker with all due respect, how do we know we are even analyzing a real signature? 1977 is the most popular time period for the works under scrutiny.
I think many people, not just artists, could duplicate this signature. That is why tracing a piece to the artist is the only real proof. For all these paintings that have the same style, (it seems like we are talking thousands,) there would have to be a connection. In fact there should be hundreds of connections! I have now seen these lesser paintings showing up on lots of little gallery and internet sites, ebay etc. with no connection to Norval Morrisseau. This is not proof of authenticity, just good distribution by someone!

I don't know where you were in the 1970s but I went to Pollack shows in Toronto and worked up north before coming south again. I was among woodland painters. I assure you Norval Morrisseau has no connection to these paintings, and they weren't even done in the 1970s, is my best guess. Anyone can put any date on the back of a fresh painting.

Any one who knew Morrisseau’s work in the 1970s knows it didn't look like this, even when apprentices worked on them! If they did, they would have pictures of themselves with those paintings and Norval Morrisseau. The definitive coffee table book by Sinclair & Pollock doesn’t have anything close to these and it covers that period extensively.

Spirit Walker, obviously you are attached to these paintings you are emotionally attached, so I hesitate to be too hard in criticizing their quality, so I won’t. I can say as a painter I know why Norval had no trouble identifying these paintings, because they were not his in feel,nor style. There are many good woodalands artists who paint in a style closer to Norval then these ones! The compositions are wrong, the colours are wrong, even the way objects go on and off the canvas are wrong. No doubt in the artist’s eye. The birds are tear drops, the people have turbins, the creatures are all fierce, and swirling off the canvas a lot of the time. Norval Morrisseau had a more contained composition with more originality in each form, not the same creatures over and over. The faces are flat, Morrisseau’s have a flow to them, not chunky lumps for faces. That doesn’t mean they have no artist worth, just that they are not Norval Morrisseaus

Spirit Walker, investigating the Ojibwa history, learning about Norval and his wife, this has been done for many years by many people and I know you are learning but you must open your eyes to the possibility of what these paintings really are. I hope I have brought you to some of the artistic truth about these paintings. I think it is what you seek. It is not grounded in the false science of handwriting or paint chip analysis. So though I find your squared off Morrisseau signature appealing the true signature of an artist is not the name on the front or back f the painting but his painting style, his life print, not thumb print.

It can’t be faked. -HVK.

Anonymous said...

Bravo, well said. Herbert thank you for this articulate narrative for it resounds 360* in the direct direction that any and all blog web sites and postings should absorb.

Hugh said...

I think herbert has a point, and the artist's eye is one of the ways that art can pass or fail the authenticity test. When there is no scientific proof, no physical proof (documentation from the 70's and 80's) then this is an important observation. BLINK, as Malcolm Gladwell wrote, that quick impression, that catches so much, and puts it all together in the blink of an eye.
Thank you for joining us herbert, a new eye is always welcome.

This may sway even the Immobile SpiritWalker!

Just be,

Anonymous said...

In Response to KRG BLOG and the malicious attack on SpiritWalker's Racial Profiling.

What are the RACIAL backgrounds of all the members of The Norval Morrisseau Heritage Society?
If they are not Aboriginal Indian then they too have no credibility either and should be booted off the commitee for masquerading as the way have they authenticated any of their 1700 pieces yet? Answer:NO!

KRG...take your foot out of your hypocritical mouth...your not Aboriginal

Anonymous said...

lol:pen name

Let me see...paint chip analysis,signature analysis,cree sylabic analysis,colour wheel analysis,canvas cloth analysis,brush stroke analysis,imagery analysis and character myth representation analysis to mention a few.
And you they keep asking for proof?
Lets face it you people are threatened by higher quality paintings that Morrisseau made and are very pissed off at buying the ugly pieces he made in light of the stuff from the 70'

Anonymous said...

Since you asked: Who is blogger Spirit Walker? Here's a brief Q&A: How long has he admired the artist?


Over many years though he started his blog mid-November last year. He came to our attention when he first approached KRG seeking advice as a fledgling collector a number of years ago. Is he of Native descent?

Being aborigibal does not give one an automatic DEGREE in Art and Credibility because you are Indian.Catherine the Great of Russia was russia's most famous and influential Queen and she wasn't even Russian...she was GERMAN!She learned to be Russian...she became more Russian than her colleagues.There are many unschooled indians who are nothing more than high School dropouts and can barely read or write....maybe they should be the ones we ask to descipher

Nope—though he would probably prefer that you were left with that impression—Eastern European, Croatian to be exact. He arrived in North America as an adult. Has he ever had any connection to Norval Morrisseau? Nope, no direct contact with the artist that we've ever heard about.

A false statement based on Opinion accusation.These people cannot possibly tell you what your every move has been with Morrisseau nor anyone else for that matter...irrelevant.

Does he work in the Arts, as his profile indicates? Nope, he's an engineer. (Once indicated before he changed his profile.) There is a Native American performer named SpiritWalker who resides in New Mexico (, but he's not the one commenting on Morrisseau. So where does this "Spirit Walker" get his expertise? Damned if I know.

Self-taught enthusiast...some of the most famouse men in history have always been self-taught masters.Norval Morrisseau for Harry S.Trueman president of the United States of America never went to university to get a degree but stuck his ass in libraries at a young age and learned things himself...Abraham Lincoln was another example of this.

Norval attracted many admirers during his lifetime; it seems no different in death. (Blog Master: Mozete li podnositi istinu?)

irrelevant comment...I guess new comers to the art now that Morrisseau is dead should not be allowed to become future experts?

Anonymous said...


I am beginning to suspect that your are not being genuine. You constantly post that posts without identification would not be allowed. Yet look at today's offerings.

In regards to the KRG blog posting, I don't see it as racially profiling you at all. I think they are letting you know that they know who you are and want to make sure that nobody thinks you are someone different.

I understand if you find this annoying but I don't think they meant any harm by it. It is rather clear to me that they were not suggesting that one had to be indian - that's only coming from the anonymous poster above. I think their point is this: SW is not indian but is actually Croatian. Just in case you thought otherwise.

In regards to being indian - remember that Norval himself said that we are all indian and that it was the indian in us that he tried to reach with his art. I think (an opinion) Norval would agree that our race has little to do with much but would concede that it does colour our realities because we are "cultured" from different perspectives. Evidence would be that there appears to be only one indian on the NMHS... Of course, maybe Norval was being rather specific when he said "Never trust and indian."

In regards to the NMHS, why the attack on them? Just because they don't agree to your timetable (anonymous poster) doesn't mean they haven't already compiled information on fakes. What they think will eventually be made public. I suspect they will clear up much - I just don't know if owners of some paintings will be happy about their findings.

As for the paintings, Norval has reportedly said they were fakes. If that was so, then you must prove him a liar. So far, this has not been accomplished. And yes, I am sure he didn't remember every single painting he ever made - but I am sure he would recognise his own art immediately. Just like most of us can recognise our own writings and signatures...

As for SW's educational background, the other anonymous poster is correct in saying that there are many self taught enthusiasts BUT that does not mean that EVERY self taught enthusiast is an expert either.

I see that this blog is disintegrating now into nonsense.

It is evident that this is because SW is allowing anonymous posts for some unexplained reason - a complete 180 degree change in his policy overnight.

What nerve has KRG hit? It seemed to me only a direct comment on your blog. At least they acknowledged you!


Robert T.

Hugh said...


Everyone of note, especially these days, gets found out. People want to know who you are. You are in the public eye. Where ever you go, the sheep are sure to follow. If you were Catherine the Great in this day and age you would have to work the media! Notoriety, ain't it a hassle.


What the hell does your comment mean anyways? Too cryptic for me. I don't even know if you like or dislike the paintings in question! How does your list apply?

Looking forward to understanding. The Enlightenment's on but nobody's home.

P.S. you certainly made me lol!

Anonymous said...

So let me get this straight. We have possibly 2 people on the Morrisseau payroll that monitor this board. They are threatening to sue for "damages". Robert, the Morrisseau/Gabe camp has obviously hired you to muffle any comments you feel are not appropriate for your liking. Quite funny. Maybe you should be going after the numerous galleries that are selling the fake 70's paintings? Or is that too much of an undertaking? OR are these all real? AKA

Anonymous said...

TO the above post..I assume by mentioning my name you are making the allegation that I work for Kinsman Robinson and or Gabe Vadas and or some "Morrisseau camp?"

That is simply another false statement. Perhaps you should read all my posts than you may actually know what you are talking about.

As for KR reading this blog - I think that is quite evident from their postings of today...

Are you paid by the "blog master" or the supposed "fakes" conspiracy team?

DO you hear yourselves? Ridiculous.

SW, I think I've provided you only with sound advice and I've also tried to dissuade people from saying things that can get them into trouble. I will not take ANY responsibility if they get sued by Kinsman Robinson.

I am offended. I may not believe everything that is posted and I may not agree with other interpretations but I am not here on behalf of Kinsman Robinson. I have only started considering that these paintings may not be genuine because the supposed "evidence" some keep promising never appears and all that does is personal attacks and statements which appear now to be legal issues for some.

Grow up. At least sign a fictitious name so people know who to address. Somethign other than MG.

Robert T.

Anonymous said...

Robert NOBODY spend this much time on a "blog", unless you have an agenda. I just don't see a poster posting after each posting, but YOU. Are you a professional dealer? An Associate? What do you care about "evidence"? NOBODY fights as hard as you and for what reason? State your agenda? Mine is a collector of the "fake 1970's" paintings...AKA
P.S. your wrong on the M.G postings..I am not him/her..lousy detective work! LOL

Anonymous said...

Question - why has no one posted any remarks on KRGs blog related to their comments on Spirit Walker?

Anonymous said...

LOL (assuming that's your chosen ID):

I will provide you a taste of logic and show you how you make statements which actually support KR.

You state "Robert NOBODY spend (sic) this much time on a "blog", unless you have an agenda. I just don't see a poster posting after each posting, but YOU."

By your logic, you have confirmed that the Blogmaster has an AGENDA. Guess you must also. In fact, anybody who spends so much time on here must hav an agenda.

SO what's yours?

Secondly, you will see multiple posts from me because I post in spurts / I converse and respond to posts and I consistently sign my posts with the same identifier (as requested by SW) UNLIKE OTHERS ON THIS BOARD.

In regards to your questions:

NO - not a dealer. Not an associate.


Can I be any clearer?

As for what I care about evidence? Well that comes back to MY agenda:

Honouring the legacy of Norval Morrisseau and seeking the Truth.

Please be more respectful. If you continue to argue like a child then I shall treat you like one and ignore you.

Perhaps nobody cares about the truth here? That woudl explain why you find my posts annoying.

I won't be posting anymore today - I'm fed up with the childish antics of people like you who whine when your statements are demonstrated to be erroneous or inconclusive. If nobody here cared about the "evidene" then why the hell are they trying to argue and prove these paintings to be real?

You can talk out of both sides of your mouth but you will be incoherent.

Robert T.

Anonymous said...

Robert your a I typed a little bit too fast and erred on a couple of words?

"NOT IN ART BUSINESS".. then you spend HOURS posting nonsense, correcting spelling errors, creating weird "facts", and stating posters will get SUED? What type of life do you lead on the internet? One sentence states you are going o ignore me and the next states your going to stop posting here.. Is everything OK? I own some paintings, you don't? ..WHY ARE YOU POSTING? Are you one of the Kinsman Kops? TOO FUNNY! AKA.....LOL

Anonymous said...

Spirit Walker has not been completely hiding behind his user name. He has provided Skyp and email addresses numerous times through out this blog. He has encouraged people to contact him. If you are interested in knowing more about him including his name, background, interest in art and Norval Morrisseau and his knowledge you should contact him and then judge him.

I have talked to him numerous times and his intentions are good. Our views are slightly different as he is a firm believer in the 70's paintings and I still have questions about them (I some of them by the way!).

Spirit Walker - why don't you provide your email address and skyp address one more time...


Anonymous said...

KRG posted my comments on their board... They are reading this for sure..

Little Thunderbird

Anonymous said...

The point of view that Herbert has posted is as succinct a posting as anyone has made. I have been following the blog for months and have chosen not to participate until now.

There is a logic that he follows. Not emotional, not personal and not with an agenda. While the polarized camps debate individual paintings, the larger point is missed. I believe, as does Herbert, that the so called 70's paintings are obvious. What it comes down to is individuals must make up their own minds as to what is real and what is not.

If one thinks, as SW does, that the disputed 70's works are real, then that is his prerogative. The only time it really matters is when someone wants to purchase a painting, then the buyer should do their due diligence and make a decision based on the current facts.

Anonymous said...


Well said. Although that had been pointed out long ago on this blog and was ignored. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Robert T.

Anonymous said...

why does SW continue to ask people to contact him on skype?
it is because he can slander KRG and Ross and gabe. he will not do it here because he would be sued on the spot.
I know what is said on skype.
amazing. if you are within 100-200 feet of a skype user on the cell phone, a $10 baby monitor will pick up the conversation which can then be recorded on a portable recorder.
the game is almost over.
Have a great day.
V from TV