George Morrison

George Morrison (1919–2000) (Ojibwe) was a founding figure of Native American modernism. Primarily a painter and sculptor, his work drew from and expanded the 19th- and 20th-century traditions often associated with emerging European and American visuality.

Morrison’s recent exhibitions include Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison, a traveling exhibition organized by Minnesota Museum of American Art (2013–2015), and Native Modernism: the Art of George Morrison and Allan Houser at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian (2004–2005). Group exhibitions include Stretching the Canvas: Eight Decades of Native Painting at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York (2019–2022); Art for a New Understanding: Native Voices, 1950s to Now, at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas (2018–2019); and the Museum of Contemporary Native Arts, Santa Fe (2019). He was honored in a White House ceremony when his Red Totem (1980) was a part of the 1997 exhibition, Twentieth Century American Sculpture at The White House: Honoring Native America. In 2022, the United States Postal Service honored Morrison with a series of commemorative stamps featuring five works from Morrison’s horizon series, which were inspired by his views of Lake Superior. He served as a professor in the departments of Studio Arts and American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota. 

A member of the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Morrison was born on the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota’s Chippewa City, and from 1983 until his passing lived and worked at his studio home, which he called Red Rock, in Grand Portage, Minnesota. 

Pilgrimage, 1945
oil on canvas
20 x 24 inches
Dream of Calamity, 1947
oil on canvas
24 x 38 inches
Untitled, 1962
oil on canvas
36 x 72 inches
private collection
New England Landscape, c. 1965/1967
wood collage, found and prepared wood
120 x 48 x 2 5/8 in
Collection Detroit Institute of Arts
Witch Tree, 1981
acrylic on canvas
36 x 30 inches
Collection General Mills
Lake Superior Landscape, 1981
acrylic on canvas
30 x 60 inches
Collection Minneapolis Institute of Art
Untitled (Lake Superior Landscape), 1986
Acrylic on canvas
48 x 48 inches
Collection Minnesota Museum of American Art
Spirit Path. New Day. Red Rock Variation: Lake Superior Landscape, 1990
acrylic and pastel on paper
20 x 30 inches
Collection Minnesota Museum of American Art
Untitled, 1995
color pencil on paper
17 x 15 inches
private collection
Untitled, 1995
gouache on paper
18 x 24 inches
Untitled, 1960
gouache on paper
17.5 x 23 inches
Three Surrealist Forms—Automatic, 1984
color pencil, ink, wash on paper
10.5 x 7.75 inches