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i u a pi pu pa ti tu ta ki ku ka gi gu ga mi mu ma ni nu na si su sa li lu la ji ju ja vi vu va ri ru ra qi qu qa ngi ngu nga lhi lhu lha

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Robert Charles Davidson

Haida

(1946)

First Name: Robert

Last Name: Davidson

Full Name: Robert Charles Davidson

Alternative Names: G̲uud San Glans, meaning “Eagle of the Dawn" in the Haida language

Date of birth: 4 November, 1946

Place of birth: Hydaburg, Alaska

Community / Heritage: Haida and Tlingit

Sex: Male

Website: https://www.robertdavidson.ca

Art Media: Acrylic, serigraph, aluminum, silkscreen, lithograph, wood, gold, silver, argillite, bronze.

Bio:

Robert Davidson is a leading figure in the revival of Haida art and culture. He was born in Hydaburg, Alaska in 1946 to Claude and Vivian Davidson. He is of Haida and Tlingit descent, and his Haida name is G̲uud San Glans, which means "Eagle of the Dawn." 

Davidson grew up in an artistic family. His father, Claude Davidson, and grandfather, Robert Davidson Sr., were respected carvers in Masset. His grandmother, Florence Davidson, was a memoirist and artist who created traditional basketry and button-blankets. His great-grandfather was Charles Edenshaw, a Haida artist known for his wood and argillite carvings, jewellery, and paintings.

In 1947, Davidson’s family moved to Masset on Haida Gwaii, where he lived until moving to Vancouver to complete his education at Point Grey Secondary School in 1965. There, he would learn the fundamentals of silkscreening.

In 1966, he met Bill Reid, who became both a friend and teacher. In 1967, Davidson enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art to study with Reid, learning the essentials of drawing and design. Through Reid, Davidson met Wilson Duff, an anthropologist, and Bill Holm, an artist, who deepened Davidson’s knowledge ofthe Haida people and their art.

In 1969, Davidson carved and raised a totem pole in Massett, in Haida Gwaii. It was the first totem pole raised in the area since the 1880s. In 1977, Davidson and his apprentices carved the Charles Edenshaw Memorial Longhouse, a memorial to his great-grandfather. Unfortunately, this building is no longer extant, having been burned down. 

In 1984, Davidson carved a Talking Stick for Pope John Paul II to commemorate the papal visit to Vancouver. The following year, Davidson carved three totem poles for the Pepsi Co. International Sculpture Garden. In 1986, he was commissioned to create a painting for Expo ’86 in Vancouver.

Davidson became known internationally as a jeweller, printmaker, painter and carver of totem poles. He had received many honours and awards for his accomplishments, including an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts from the University of Victoria, British Columbia in 1992, and the Order of Canada in 1996. Davidson has held many exhibitions across Canada and the world. His works are collected worldwide and are held in such institutions as the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Canada; the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, Canada; the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, Canada and the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, USA.

Davidson currently lives and works in White Rock near Vancouver and in Massett, Haida Gwaii.

Exhibitions

  • 1992: “Robert Davidson — Recollections”, Arthur Ross Gallery, University of Philadelphia, United States
  • 1993: “Eagle of The Dawn”, Opened at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver British Columbia, Canada; Closed at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec, Canada
  • 1998: “Expanding The Circle”, The Art of guud san glans”, Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College, Portland Orlando, United States
  • 2004: “Robert Davidson:  The Abstract Edge”, Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver BC. Opened in Vancouver, traveled across Canada and closed at the National Gallery of Canada in 2007
  • 2006: Group Exhibition “Raven Travelling — Two Centuries of Haida Art”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2006: The Abstract Edge McCord Museum, travelling exhibition
  • 2009: Group Exhibition “Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast”, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg Ontario, Canada. Opened in Kleinberg, traveled within Canada and to Switzerland, closed Fall 2010
  • 2010: “Eagle Transforming: The Prints of Robert Davidson”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Traveled within Canada and US, closed September, 2011
  • 2010: Group Exhibition “Haida Art — Mapping an Ancient Language”, McCord Museum, Montreal, Quebec, Opened in Montreal, traveled within Canada, closed July, 2011
  • 2010: Group Exhibition “Visions of British Columbia: A Landscape Manual”, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2011: Solo exhibition “The Art of Robert Davidson”, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington, United States
  • 2014: Solo exhibition — “Abstract Impulse”, National Museum of the North American Indian, New York, NY, United States
  • 2014: Solo exhibition — “Abstract Impulse”, Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • 2015: “Robert Davidson: Progression of Form”, Gordon Smith Gallery, North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Collections

  • The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • The Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • The Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • American Museum of Natural History, Manhattan, New York City, United States
  • The Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Los Angeles, California, United States
  • Canadian Museum of Civilization, Hull, Quebec, Canada
  • Seattle Art Museum, Washington, United States
  • Museum of Anthropology UBC, Vancouver, British, Columbia, Canada
  • Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada
  • Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada
  • Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture, Seattle, Washington, United States
  • Vancouver Airport Authority, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • Appleby College, Oakville, Ontario, Canada
  • PepsiCo World Headquarters, International Sculpture Park, Purchase, New York, United States
  • Elvis Costello Collection
  • The McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, Canada
  • The Eric Milliren & Steven Muchnick Collection

Articles

Awards

  • 1992: Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts, University of Victoria, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1994: Doctor of Laws Degree, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1995: National Aboriginal Achievement Award (now Inspire Award) for Art and Culture, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 1995: Certificate of Merit, City of Vancouver Book Award for ‘Eagle Transforming: The Art of Robert Davidson’, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1995: Interpretation Canada Award of Merit
  • 1995: Order of British Columbia, British Columbia, Canada
  • 1996: Order of Canada
  • 1997: Honorary Doctor of Arts Degree, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, United States
  • 1998: Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, Emily Carr Institute of Art & Design, Vancouver,  British Columbia, Canada
  • 2002: Received the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, Rideau Hall (officially Government House), Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2004: Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, University of Northern British Columbia, Prince George, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2005: Vancouver Arts Award—Visual Arts Vancouver, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2007: Honorary Doctor of Letters Degree, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2007: British Columbia Aboriginal Art Lifetime Achievement Award, British Columbia Achievement Foundation, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2008: City of Surrey’s Civic Treasure Award, Surrey, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2010: The Governor General’s Award in visual and media arts, Rideau Hall, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
  • 2010: Audain Prize for Lifetime Achievement, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
  • 2012: Received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • Member of Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

Artwork

Title Last Sold At Auction
BROKE BEAK RAVEN 2017-06 (June 2017)
RAVEN STEALING THE MOON 2017-12 (December 2017)
BAIT BOX DESIGN 2015-10 (October 2015)
BEAVER 2019-10 (October 2019)
BUTTERFLIES 2017-11 (November 2017)
DOGFISH MOTHER 2015-10 (October 2015)
FIVE VIEWS, BUTTERFLY 2015-10 (October 2015)
FROG 2019-10 (October 2019)
HALIBUT, HALIBUT, HALIBUT 2015-11 (November 2015)
KILLER WHALE; EAGLE 2019-04 (April 2019)
REFLECTIONS 2017-10 (October 2017)
SEVEN RAVENS 2010-10 (October 2010)
SISTERS OF THE UNDERWORLD 2018-12 (December 2018)
SPIRIT HELPERS HELPER 2018-12 (December 2018)
THUNDERBIRD 2015-11 (November 2015)
UNTITLED (HAIDA MOON’S) 2018-02 (February 2018)

Recent Auction Results

BEAVER
Estimate: 400 — 500
Sold: Oct 2019 — Sold For: $360
FROG
Estimate: 1,000 — 1,500
Sold: Oct 2019 — Sold For: $2,700
KILLER WHALE; EAGLE
Estimate: 200 — 300
Sold: Apr 2019 — Sold For: $360
SPIRIT HELPERS HELPER
Estimate: 1,000 — 1,500
Sold: Dec 2018 — Sold For: $1,440
SISTERS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Estimate: 2,000 — 2,500
Sold: Dec 2018 — Sold For: $2,160
UNTITLED (HAIDA MOON’S)
Estimate: 400 — 500
Sold: Feb 2018 — Sold For: $450

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