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Wed, Mar 20, 2024 08:00PM EDT
Lot 39

George Morrison Pen and Ink Line Drawing 1972

Estimate: $6,000 - $12,000

Bid Increments

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$0 $25
$300 $50
$1,000 $100
$3,000 $200
$5,000 $500
$10,000 $1,000
$20,000 $2,000
$50,000 $5,000
$100,000 $10,000
$500,000 $25,000
$1,000,000 $50,000
$10,000,000 $100,000

George Morrison (Ojibwe, 1919-2000). Black ink on Strathmore paper depicting a horizon comprised of thousands of lines, 1972. A thread of lines runs through the center of the composition - connecting the upper and lower halves of the drawing - creating a continuous weaving passage. Signed and dated along the lower left. A tag from the Walker Art Center is affixed to the verso.

Provenance: Private Minnesota Collection.

Exhibition: George Morrison Drawings Dates: 15 April - 27 May 1973; Heard Museum Phoenix, Dates: 23 June - 5 August 1973; Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth Dates: 10 November - 5 January 1974.

Lot Essay:
Regarded as the founding figure of Native American modernism and among the top American abstract expressionist painters is George Morrison. Also highly regarded as a master collage artist, he assembled large collages of found driftwood and woodcut in framed, puzzle-like forms. In the 1940s, he was formally trained at the Minneapolis College of Art and in the 1950s at the Art Students League in New York before receiving a Fulbright to study in France. Taking his place as part of the modern art movement in New York in the 1950s after World War II, he was friends with Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning, regularly exhibiting with de Kooning, Philip Guston, Hans Hofmann, and Franz Kline. Morrison helped bring the New York Modern Art movement to Minnesota, where he was based and worked with pure form via Abstract Expressionism. Later in his career, in the mid-1970s, Morrison shifted to a new theme and started to really explore his heritage when he and his family built a home with an art studio on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation on Lake Superior, naming it Red Rock.

Rather than portraying an overt depiction of identity, Morrison was in the process of exploring his identity so he looked to nature, stating “in this search for my own identity, I seek the power of the rock, the magic of the water, the religion of the tree, the color of the wind and the enigma of the horizon.” Translating nature into paintings was Morrison’s way to navigate learning and absorption, and in turn produce self-expression. His token theme was the horizon, taking on dynamic form as colors or shapes in the eternal motion of nature. His inspiration was provided by Lake Superior, observing and documenting the temporary sight of the revered sky meeting landscape that he beheld in the moment.

In an interview with Philip Larson conducted for the 1973 Walker exhibition Morrison stated that these drawings were "laid out with precise straight and curved lines, all the same distance apart, and the whole surface is evenly textured. There is an effect of shallow cubist depth made with overlapping lines, and a sense of indefinite space extending outwards from all four sides...I sometimes deliberately create a passage going up diagonally from the bottom left to top right. That it is going through is very obvious - a passage of lines that becomes immersed in other lines, weaving in and out." This ink weaving is clearly evident with the central vertical passage in this work, creating a connection between the top quarter of the painting into the lower half.

Sight; height: 23 1/8 in x wide: 23 1/8 in. Framed; height: 25 1/4 in x width: 25 1/4 in.


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