Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Honouring Eddy Cobiness

- Eddy Cobiness (1933-1996)

"Birds in the Sky", © Eddy Cobiness Estate
/Click on image to Enlarge/


Eddy “Doc” Cobiness was born and raised in Warroad, Minnesota in 1933. After a career in the U.S. army in the late 1950s, where he was a Golden Glove boxer, and stint as a pulp-cutter and fisherman, he began to concentrate on painting.

Eddy Cobiness’s gentle, flowing lines helped define contemporary Canadian native art. He was a treaty Ojibway Indian and he had a large studio in Buffalo Point on the shore of the Lake of the Woods, but was forced to moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba in 1974 because of ill health. He suffered a heart attack in 1994 and had severe diabetes. In September of 1995, Cobiness slipped in his bathroom and broke his hip. Complications from surgery eventually led to his death on January 1st, 1996. Eddy Cobiness left his wife Helen of 34 years and eight children. He was buried on January 5th, 1996 near his studio in Buffalo Point, Manitoba.

Self-taught painter and graphic designer Eddy Cobiness was known for appending his treaty number '47' to most of his works. He began by illustrating realistic village scenes, then initiated a more abstract phase of work, continuing with depictions of provincial wildlife influenced by celebrated Woodland artist
Benjamin Chee Chee. Cobiness worked in oil and acrylic, watercolour, pen and ink, and coloured pencil.

In 1973 seven Canadian native artists gave birth to the Professional National Indian Artists Inc. also known as the Indian Group of Seven. The Group consisted of Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray (murdered in Sioux Lookout in 1978), Jackson Beardy (died of a heart attack in 1984), Norval Morrisseau (died in 2007), Eddy Cobiness, Alex Janvier and Joseph Sanchez.

That year Jackson Beardy, Alex Janvier, and Daphne Odjig had been involved in an exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery called Treaty Numbers 23, 287, 1171 a reference to the numbers given to their respective bands when treaties had been signed with the Canadian government. The show had been a success and as a follow up, the idea came to formalize a group of native artists that would spread the word about Canadian Woodland (Anishnaabe) Art Movement and to assist younger native artists.

Eddy Cobiness frequently painted stylized images of animals, and was known for being able to capture the essence of various creatures with just a few deft strokes, a style that came to be known as “the flowing art of Eddy Cobiness”.

Cobiness’s work has been collected by Queen Elizabeth II, former Prime Minister Jacques Chrétien, and actor Charlton Heston and is in the collections of the following institutions: Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Québec; Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Ottawa, Ontario; Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario; McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario...

Source: Text: "Winnipeg Free Press" - an article dated January 3, 1996: "Gentle, flowing lines helped to define Canadian native art" by Tony Davis /Staff Reporter/and other sources. Image: Bearclaw Gallery, Edmonton, Alberta.

For additional information about Eddy Cobiness you may visit "Wikipedia" and "Native Art In Canada" websites.--

* The watercolour painting on paper in this post: "Birds in the Sky", 22"x30", © Eddy Cobiness Estate /Private Collection/

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