Artwork by Norval Morrisseau,  Untitled (Moose Pair)

Norval Morrisseau
Untitled (Moose Pair)

acrylic on paper
signed in syllabics lower centre
32 x 79 ins ( 81.3 x 200.7 cms )

Auction Estimate: $30,000.00$25,000.00 - $30,000.00

Price Realized $35,400.00
Sale date: September 24th 2020

Purchased directly from the artist
Yellow Door Gallery, Winnipeg (circa 1968)
Private Collection, Winnipeg
Mayberry Fine Art, Winnipeg
Private Collection, Toronto
Carmen Robertson, “Norval Morrisseau: Life and Work” [online publication], Art Canada Institute, Toronto, 2016, page 9
Groundbreaking artist Norval Morrisseau worked beyond European- based conventions and drew from Anishnaabe cultural traditions to develop his powerful and unique artistic vision. The moose carried important symbolic associations for Morrisseau. The Glenbow Museum noted that Morrisseau drew inspiration from the traditional story of a dream of an Ojibwa named Luke Onanakongos (Jo-Go Way):

“In dreams of my youth, my spirit dwelled inside a huge moose, and I was protected from hardships of this earth. In middle life, the moose discharged my spirit from his body and it became one with my earthly self. The moose told me to purify myself spiritually and I did this for a time. Finally, in my old age, I rebelled and left forever the dream that pulled me toward that era.”

Well-known as a proficient colourist, Morrisseau opted here for subtle, earthy tones that evoke traditional Anishnaabe materials of birch bark and tanned hides. The artist often demonstrated a visual preference for balanced, symmetrical compositions by depicting two facing figures. This pictorial structure infuses the work with an iconic and transcendent quality. The outlines of the two animals connect at only a few points, creating visual tension in an image unified by flowing, rhythmic curves. Norval Morrisseau was the formative figure of the Woodland School, a group of Indigenous painters who carried forward his lasting artistic influence.

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Norval Morrisseau
(1931 - 2007) RCA, Order of Canada

Born in 1931 at Sandy Point Reserve, Ontario, Morrisseau was a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts since 1970. Norval Morrisseau was the celebrated founder of the Woodland School, which revitalized Anishnabe iconography, traditionally incised on rocks and Midewiwin birchbark scrolls. A self-taught painter, printmaker, and illustrator, Morrisseau created an innovative vocabulary which was initially criticized in the Native community for its disclosure of traditional spiritual knowledge. His colourful, figurative images delineated with heavy black form lines and x-ray articulations, were characteristically signed with the syllabic spelling of Copper Thunderbird, the name Morrisseau’s grandfather gave him. Morrisseau completed many commissions during his career including the mural for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 1978 and, in 1980, received honourary doctorates from both McGill and McMaster universities. In 1995 Morrisseau was honoured by the Assembly of First Nations.