Charles Edenshaw was recognized in his time as an outstanding Haida artist and remains an iconic figure in Northwest Coast art. Working in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries (1829-1920), he was an exceptional carver of wood, silver and argillite, combining traditional Haida design with an innovative and elegant personal style, and raising Northwest Coast art to new heights of sophistication. First seen at the Vancouver Art Gallery, the exhibition Charles Edenshaw at the National Gallery of Canada marks the first major survey of Edenshaw’s work, featuring over 200 pieces in all media from public and private collections from around the world, thus presenting the full range of objects that he created during his lifetime, from traditional objects that he made for family members to elaborately carved model poles, platters and other objects produced for trade with Europeans.
Examining his remarkable aesthetic achievements, the exhibition focuses on four predominant themes: his advancement of traditional formline design; his ability to animate Haida stories in his carving; his interest in new materials and visual ideas that led to innovative cultural hybrids; and, finally, his deep-seated belief in Haida traditions, which gave him the agility and fortitude to thrive as a Haida artist during oppressive colonial rule.
National Gallery of Canada Website