Robert Davidson RCA

Northwest Coast Native Artist Robert Davidson RCA from Haida Nation

Haida Nation

Robert Davidson is one of Canada’s most respected and important contemporary artists. A renowned Haida master carver of totem poles and masks who works in a variety of other media as a printmaker, painter and jeweler. He is also a leading figure in the renaissance of Haida art and culture. Robert Davidson is best known as an impeccable craftsman whose creative and personal interpretations of traditional Haida form is unparalleled.

Robert Charles Davidson was born November 4, 1946 in Hydaburg Alaska. His Haida name is Guud San Glans/Eagle of The Dawn. He moved with his family to the Massett on Haida Gwai (Queen Charlotte Islands) in 1947 and lived there until 1965 when he moved to Vancouver to complete his education at Point Grey Secondary School. It was there that he first learned the fundamentals of silk-screening.

In 1966 he met Bill Reid and soon after, began an eighteen month apprenticeship that launched his career as an artist. Through Reid, he met anthropologist Wilson Duff, artist Bill Holm, and learned much about the Haida people and their art. In 1967 he enrolled in the Vancouver School of Art, a place he credits for developing his drawing and design skills.

Robert Davidson was surrounded by fine carving from an early age as both his father, Claude Davidson and grandfather, Robert Davidson Sr. were respected carvers in Massett. His great grandfather was the famed Haida carver Charles Edenshaw. Robert began carving at the age of 13 when his father insisted that he carry on the family artistic tradition. Since that time, he has continued to explore the carved form in a variety of traditional and non-traditional media including bronze and aluminum. He became the consummate Haida artist whose strong rhythms and personal style is recognized and sought-after the world over.

For more than fifty years, Robert Davidson has worked as an artist and has produced an internationally acclaimed body of work. His work is found in a number of important private and public collections including the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec, the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles and the Artists for Kids Gallery in North Vancouver. He has also received many honours for his accomplishments.

In 1995 he received the National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his contribution to First Nations art and culture. He holds honorary degrees from the University of Victoria, Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas and the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vancouver. He has received the Order of British Columbia and in 1996 was awarded the prestigious Order of Canada.

In 2010, British Columbia’s most prestigious award – the Audain Foundation for the Visual Arts “Lifetime Achievement in the Visual Arts” (now in its 7th year) was presented to Robert Davidson at the Vancouver Art Gallery on May 12th. In addition, Robert was the winner of the 2010 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.

In 2011, Robert received the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts Award in Visual and Media Art. RCA is a honourary organization of over 790 established professional artists and designers across Canada. Members are nominated and elected by their peers, since 1880, and come to represent Canada’s most distinguished artists.

In 2022, Robert was awarded the Order of Canada for his continued excellence as an artist and as an
an advocate of Haida culture. The Order of Canada is the highest level of distinction in the Canadian Honours System. Any Canadian may be appointed a Member (CM), Officer (OC), or Companion (CC) of the Order in recognition of outstanding achievements or exemplary contributions in any sector of Canadian society.

Works by this Artist (Present + Past + Public)

Present Works

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  • Meeting at the Centre

    Robert Davidson RCA

    Price upon request

    Artist Proof

    Epoxy Powder-Coated Aluminum, Wood Base

  • Two Working Together Hled sda sGwaansang (Bow & Arrow)

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$2,500.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 49

    2022

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on Custom Framing, please contact the gallery)

  • Occupied [Framed]

    Robert Davidson RCA

    Price upon request

    Serigraph, Edition 12 of 88

    2007

    Framed

    Occupied was first a doodle for a thank-you card. I also couldn’t pronounce the plural ‘octopi.’ When you look at the map of Haida Gwaii there are red parts to indicate reserve land that we can occupy and it adds up to less than 0.1 percent. We have been corralled onto this tiny piece of land. There was a time when we needed to sign in and sign out to leave the reserve. And we had no rights to natural resources. When it was all taken away from us, 90 percent of the population died and the survivors’ children were kidnapped and taken to residential schools. Then we became wards of the state and we were labelled as lazy. We look at the photographs – fortunately they photographed all the villages before all this devastation – and they are lined with many totem poles. The totem poles were not created by lazy people.” – Robert Davidson

  • Fisherman’s Delight

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$1,800.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 81

    2022

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on Custom Framing, please contact the gallery)

    “I went fishing with Reg and his friend Tom Wylie last summer. I was really taken because they were charged with excitement. They kept handing me a rod but I was just happy to watch because they were really interesting… When we went to the river to fish we were excited to know that we had replenished the food supply. Reg has constantly replenished the halibut and salmon supply for freezers in the village because he feels the need and so few people own boats.

    The focus point in this piece of art is a Spring Salmon depicted with the face of Humanity. Traditionally, the native societies were established around fishing, hunting, and gathering. The most valuable resource was salmon. For thousands of years, salmon was the primary food source for the people on the Canadian Northwest Coast. As a result of overfishing came a time of scarcity. Salmon perished and humanity depended heavily on its return. Salmon is a powerful symbol of regeneration, prosperity, and renewal for the Haida people.
    ⠀⁠ ⁠⁠⁠ ⁠
    ⁠In the bottom right corner of this painting, Kuugan Jaad (also known as Mouse Woman) comes into sight. She is a character in many Haida legends. Mouse Woman is a supernatural being. She is the mother of Raven according to the mythology. She often appears in stories as a helper or advisor to those who are on a journey or to those who have crossed (or are about to cross) to another dimension (Spirit World or the unknown). She is highly respected as she offers great wisdom to restore order and balance. According to mythology, Mouse Woman can change shapes. She can be a big eyed mouse and change into a tiny human grandmother. However, in art, her appearance is mostly abstract.⁠
    ⠀⁠ ⁠⁠⁠ ⁠
    When I’m creating a design, sometimes subconsciously Kuugan Jaad just appears in the art piece. Her form arises automatically during the creative process. It is striking because she is known to lend a helping hand to story characters in our legends.“ ~ Robert Davidson

  • Swallow Sculpture

    Robert Davidson RCA

    Price upon request

    Epoxy Powder-Coated Aluminum

    Granite Base

    Limited Edition 2 of 7

  • Sk’ug sdang (Two Dog Salmon)

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$1,500.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 97

    2021

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on Custom Framing, please contact the gallery)

  • (Untitled) “Bird in the Air”

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$2,100.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 72

    2016

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on Custom Framing, please contact the gallery)

    Bird-in-the-Air appears in one of two places in stories told by Charles Edenshaw. That is the only reference to it, ‘Bird-in-the-Air,’ and I really liked it. And the Bird in the Air that Edenshaw did has the likeness of Eagle, so that is why I gave it the likeness of Eagle.” – Robert Davidson

  • Put Your Complaints ‘Ere

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$1,200.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 67

    2002

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on Custom Framing, please contact the gallery)

    “One day I took a tour into Vancouver to sell some work and I stopped at a number of galleries and shops that I like to frequent. It was a day where everyone seemed to be complaining and I got the idea to create a work of art that people could complain to, or have a one-way conversation – a giant ear, something that would absorb the negativity. I thought, ‘Every home or office needs one.’ I am almost deaf in one ear and I wonder if it is about that too.” – Robert Davidson

  • Supernatural Beings

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$1,800.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 79

    2019

    Unframed

    (For inquiries on custom framing, please contact the gallery)

    Supernatural Beings is one of two designs that I did based on a discussion with artist/weaver Cheryl Samuel about pushing the design possibilities for robes and aprons. I received feedback from the weavers that it could not be done but also interest from some who were willing to try.” – Robert Davidson

  • Supernatural Beings [Framed]

    Robert Davidson RCA

    CA$2,500.00

    Serigraph, Edition of 79

    2019

    Framed

    Supernatural Beings is one of two designs that I did based on a discussion with artist/weaver Cheryl Samuel about pushing the design possibilities for robes and aprons. I received feedback from the weavers that it could not be done but also interest from some who were willing to try.” – Robert Davidson

Past Works

The artist’s Past Works at our Gallery have now sold; however, a custom order may be possible if the artist is available and accepting commissions.