Thunderbird by Norval Morrisseau

Acrylic on Canvas
54 × 48.5 inches
137.16 × 123.19 cm
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About the Work

A mythical thunderbird rises iconically from a yellow sun shape below and into another above the bird on a light sky blue ground. Depicted in Morrisseau's pictographic style, thick black lines articulate the body and wings of the bird in a variety of organic shapes on this 4.5 feet vertical canvas. The shapes are filled with bright colors, blue, mauve, red, orange. Morrisseau was 19 when he became unwell and, in order to recover, was given the name Copper Thunderbird in an Anishiniaabe renaming ceremony. Performed by a medicine woman, the ceremony gave energy and new life to the young Morrisseau who recovered and used his new name from that moment on. The thunderbird is a powerful being depicted often with outspread wings with which it creates thunder. Morrisseau was known for his pictographic style of black outline and solid bright colous with which he interpreted the stories and culture of his people, the Anishinaabe. His work is included in the collections of many Canadian museums including the Art Gallery of Ontario, National Gallery of Canada, McMichael Canadian Collection and the Royal Ontario Museum. He has been credited as the father of the Woodland School, a group of indigenous painters who adopted and expanded the artist's style. Morrisseau was appointed Member, Order of Canada in 1978.

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