Robert Davidson is one of the most decorated Canadian artists today. He has received such prestigious awards as the Order of Canada, the Order of British Columbia, and the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Aboriginal Achievement Foundation, and was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
He was born in Hydaburg, Alaska in 1946, and was raised in the village of Masset on Haida Gwaii (the Queen Charlotte Islands). From childhood, he was a natural and gifted designer, learning traditional Haida form from his father and grandfather. After completing high school he embarked on a full-time career as a Northwest Coast artist. The scope of his work has spanned all traditional materials and scale. He is at ease with graphics, precious metals, argillite, and wood. His later work has also included works in aluminum and bronze.
His 1993 exhibition, “Eagle of the Dawn”, at the Vancouver Art Gallery was the largest solo exhibition of any Northwest Coast artist, and spanned four decades of artistic achievement. In 2004, his solo exhibition, “The Abstract Edge” premiered at the Museum of Anthropology at UBC and then also toured nationally. This exhibition unveiled a contemporary direction and focused strictly on his personal interpretation of Haida design. His work has been a necessary part of all major exhibitions and publications of contemporary Northwest Coast art. With the release of “Four Decades: An Innocent Gesture”, there are now five publications on his art and career. In addition, Robert has initiated many projects and events dedicated to the preservation of Haida language, culture, and ceremony, as well as his ceaseless support of the art.
Spirit Wrestler Gallery, 2009. Artist photo courtesy Ulli Steltzer.
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