Friday, January 9, 2015

Who is Norval Morrisseau /Copper Thunderbird/?

~ By the Smithsonian Institution: "The Greatest Indigenous Artist Of The World That Has Ever Lived!"

Norval Morrisseau, R.C.A., C.M., LL.D., D.Litt., R.S.C.
(March 14th, 1931 - December 4th, 2007)
"Portrait of Norval Morrisseau," a Monumental Sculpture*
by © Susan Murar; Photography by Lucinda Jones

~ Click on image to Enter Susan Murar's website

Portrait (White clay): 8' x 3'-6" x 2'-2" (Height x Width x Depth)
Staff (White clay): 3'-10" x 1'-10" x 10" (Height x Width x Depth)
/The portrait has not yet been cast into bronze/
* It is time that an individual, cultural agency, or Canadian art museum step forward to "acquire" this 1st 3D and monumental portrait of Ojibwa artist Norval Morrisseau - to "present" it to this and future generations "to build bridges between the peoples of the earth and heal the divisions between hearts". It is time to find a public space, a home for it in Canada where all people will be able to view it and learn more about this great Ojibway artist, Norval Morrisseau.
A member of The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (R.C.A.) since 1970, Norval Morrisseau is the most original and important artist that Canada has produced. He is the celebrated founder of the Woodland Indian School of Art (today called the Anishnaabe art), which revitalized Anishnaabe iconography, traditionally incised on rocks and Midewiwin birchbark scrolls.

A self-taught painter, Norval Morrisseau created an innovative visual vocabulary which was initially criticized in the Native community for its disclosure of traditional spiritual knowledge, previously passed down orally. He acquired his knowledge from his grandfather, Moses ("Potan") Nanakonagos, who taught him about Midewiwin scrolls which provided him with a source of powerful images and meanings. His visions come to life on birch bark, paper and canvas. His powerful way of using images and colours effect the viewers in ways that are not immediately apparent...

In 1962 Morrisseau was the first Aboriginal artist to have work shown in a contemporary art gallery (the Pollock Gallery in Toronto), where his bright, stylized images of Windigos, spirit guides, and animals were so well received that he sold all the paintings at the opening night. His colourful, figurative images delineated with heavy black/blue formlines, were characteristically signed with the Cree syllabic spelling of "Copper Thunderbird", the name Medicine woman gave to him aiding his recovery from sickness in his youth.

Norval Morrisseau completed many commissions during his career, including the mural for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo '67. He was presented with the Order of Canada (O.C.) in 1978, and in 1980 honourary doctorates from McGill and McMaster Universities. In 1989 he was invited, as the only Canadian painter, to exibit at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris to mark the bicentennial of the French Revolution. In 1995 he was awarded with the Eagle Feather (the highest honour awarded by the the Assembly of First Nations). In 1996 he was appointed Grand Shaman of the Ojibway and in 2005 he was elected to the ranks of The Royal Society of Canada (R.S.C.).

His work now hangs in all of the most prestigious museums in Canada and around the world. The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa had in 2006 a major retrospective of his works: "Norval Morrisseau - Shaman Artist" - the first solo exhibition featuring a First Nations artist in its 126-year history.

Morrisseau, who had been living in Nanaimo, British Columbia, died at General Hospital in Toronto on December 4th, 2007.

Source: An unofficial Website of Norval Morrisseau


"The longer you stand in front of any of his creations, the more you are drawn into his world. A sense of enlightenments experienced as time stands still and you are taken to a place only he could describe."

George Lépine
Assinaboine - Manitoba



1970 Appointed a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Art (RCAA)
1978 Order of Canada
1980 Honorary Doctorate of Laws Degree
McMaster University, Hamilton Ontario
1995 Eagle Feather from the Assembly of First Nations, Ottawa

Selected solo/group exhibitions:

1962-64 Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

1964 Red Door Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1965 Galerie Agnes Lefort, Montreal, Quebec
Images Du Folklore Indien – Norval Morrisseau, An Ojibway Artist
Hart House Gallery, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario

1966 Galerie Cartier (Co-sponsored by Pollock Gallery), Montreal, Quebec

1967 Musée du Quebec, Quebec City, Quebec
Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
La Galerie Cartier, Montreal, Quebec

1968 Art Gallery of Newport (Sponsored by Galerie Cartier), Newport, Rhode Island, USA

1969 Norval Morrisseau: Peintre indien du Grand Nord Canadien
Gallerie Saint-Paul, Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France
1972 Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

1974 Beau-xi Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

1975 Shayne Gallery, Montreal, Quebec
Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Gallery 115, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1976 Pollock Gallery Toronto, Ontario
Oakville Centennial Gairloch Galleries, Oakville, Ontario
CONTEMPORARY NATIVE ART OF CANADA - THE WOODLAND INDIANS @ Royal Ontario Museum Ethnology Department, Toronto, Ontario; Canada House Gallery, London, England and Aula LuisenSchule, Lahr, Germany

1977 The Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau, Copper Thunderbird – Man Who Became a Thunderbird
Graphic Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia

1978 First Canadian Place, Toronto, Ontario

1979 Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Oakville Centennial, Gairloch Galleries, Oakville, Ontario
The Gallery Stratford, Stratford, Ontario
Cardigan-Milne Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba

1980 Canadian Galleries, Edmonton, Alberta
Bayard Gallery, New York, N.Y, USA

1981 Pollock Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Anthony’s Gallery, Toronto, Ontario; Vancouver, British Columbia
Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre and Centre for Indian Art
Thunder Bay, Ontario

1982 Robertson Gallery, Ottawa, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau
The New Man Gallery, London, Ontario
Nexus Art Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Moore Gallery Ltd., Hamilton, Ontario
Masters Gallery, Calgary, Alberta
Scarborough Public Library, Ontario
Legacy Art Gallery, Toronto, Ontario

1983 Art Imperial Gallery, Toronto, Ontario
Native American Centre for the Living Arts, Niagara Falls, N.Y., USA
Thunder Bay National Exhibition Centre and Centre for Indian Art
Thunder Bay, Ontario Norval Morrisseau: Recent Work

1984 Ontario North Now, Ontario Place, Toronto, Ontario
Library AA Gallery, Brampton, Ontario

1985 Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan
Two Worlds

1986 Native Business Summit, Toronto, Ontario
New Beginnings
The Gallery, First Canadian Place, Toronto, Ontario
The Shaman Art of Morrisseau and Marion
Ontario North Now, Ontario Place, Toronto, Ontario
The Birch Bark Sings

1987 Gulf Canada Gallery, Alberta
Southwest Museum, Los Angeles, California
A Celebration of Contemporary Native Art

1988 Sinclair Centre, Vancouver, British Columbia

1989 The Art Emporium, Vancouver, British Columbia
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Woodlands: Contemporary Art of the Anishnabe

1990 Kinsman Robinson Galleries Toronto, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau: The Shaman’s Return

1991 Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau
Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, Ontario

1992 Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
The Spirit Within: Early Paintings by Norval Morrisseau
Jenkins/Showler Galleries, Whiterock, British Columbia
Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, Ontario

1993 Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Art of the Anishnabe: Works from the Permanent Collection

1994 Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
Honouring First Nations – Norval Morrisseau
Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario

1997 Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau: Travels to the House of Invention
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Claiming Ourselves

1999 Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto, Ontario
Norval Morrisseau, Bridging the Past to the Future
Norval Morrisseau: New Works on Paper

2001 Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba, Brandon, Manitoba
Norval Morrisseau: The Red Lake Years

2002 Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Evolution: Four Decades of Work by Norval Morrisseau

2006 Steffich Fine Art, Salt Spring Island, BC
Norval Morrisseau : Pictorial Legends

2006 The National Gallery, Ottawa Canada
Norval Morrisseau, Shaman Artist

Selected collections:

Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, Ontario
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Ontario
Art Gallery of Windsor, Toronto, Ontario
Canada Council Art Bank, Ottawa, Ontario
Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce of Collection
Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa, Ontario
Citicorp of Canada Ltd., Toronto, Ontario
City Hall Collection, Toronto, Ontario
City of Toronto Collection, Toronto, Ontario
Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island
Constellation Hotel, Toronto, Ontario
Crown Life Insurance, Toronto, Ontario
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Gatineau, Quebec
Dodd’s Coal Mines, South Edmonton, Alberta
Etobicoke Board of Education, Etobicoke, Ontario
Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta
Government of Ontario Collection, Toronto, Ontario
Guardian Capital Group, Toronto, Ontario
Hart House Art Gallery, University of Toronto, Ontario
Humber College Collection, Toronto, Ontario
Imperial Oil of Canada, Toronto and Calgary
Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario
McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario
Manitoba Centennial Corporation, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal, Quebec
Montreal Trust Company Collection
Musée du Quebec, Quebec City, Quebec
National Gallery of Canada
Noranda Mines Collection, Toronto, Ontario
Noreen Energy Resources Ltd.
Northern Telecom, Toronto, Ontario
Oakville Centennial Gallery, Oakville, Ontario
Ondaatje Corporation, Toronto, Ontario
Ontario Centennial Committee Collection
Proctor and Gamble, Toronto, Ontario
Province of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba
Robertson Art Centre, Binghampton, NY
Ross Memorial Hospital, Lindway, Ontario
Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario
Seneca College, Toronto, Ontario
Simon Fraser Gallery, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia
The Toronto Star, Toronto, Ontario
Thunder bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario
Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba


1973 The Colours of Pride
Jacobsen, Henning Productions Ltd.
National Film Board of Canada and Indian and Northern Affairs

1974 The Paradox of Norval Morrisseau
Jacobsen, Henning Productions Ltd.; Duke Redbird (Director)
Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development

1982 Spirits Speaking Through: Canadian Woodland Artists
CBC Spectrum Series

1990 Shaman Never Die
Lamothe, Arthur (Director/Producer), Atelier Audio Visuelle, Montreal
The Originals (film) Norval Morrisseau
Znaimer, Moses; Jim Hanley, City TV, Toronto, Ontario

2004 Stories from the 7th Fire “Winter”
Coyes, Greg, animation based on art of Norval Morrisseau

2005 A Separate Reality: the Life and Times of Norval Morrisseau
Carvallo, Paul (Producer), for the Life and Times Canada’s Premiere Biography Series, CBC


1 - The Royal Canadian Academy of Arts is one of Canada’s most enduring cultural institutions is comprised of members in over twenty visual arts disciplines from across Canada.

2 - The Royal Society of Canada (The Canadian Academy of the Sciences and Humanities) is the senior national body of distinguished Canadian scientists and scholars. Its primary objective is to promote learning and research in the arts and sciences. The Society consists of approximately 1700 Fellows: men and women from across the country who are selected by their peers for outstanding contributions to the natural and social sciences and in the humanities.

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