Alex Janvier

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Alex Janvier
Alex Janvier, NGC, 2017.jpg
Born (1935-02-28) February 28, 1935 (age 83)
Le Goff Reserve, Cold Lake First Nations, Alberta, Canada
Nationality Canadian
Education Self taught, Alberta College of Art and Design
Known for Painting
Movement Indian Group of Seven
Morning Star (Detail), Alex Janvier, 1993

Alex Simeon Janvier, AOE (/ˈænvɪər/; born February 28, 1935) is an Aboriginal artist in Canada. As a member of the commonly referred to "Indian Group of Seven",[1] Janvier is a pioneer of contemporary Canadian Aboriginal art in Canada.


Alex Janvier was born on Le Goff Reserve, Cold Lake First Nations, northern Alberta on February 28, 1935[2] of Dene Suline and Saulteaux descent. At the age of eight, he was sent to the Blue Quills Indian residential school near St. Paul, Alberta, where the principal recognized his innate artistic talent and encouraged him in his art.[3] Alex Janvier received formal art training from the Provincial Institute of Technology and Art in Calgary (now the Alberta College of Art and Design) and graduated with honours in 1960. Immediately after graduation, Janvier took up an opportunity to instruct art at the University of Alberta. In 1966, the federal Department of Indian and Northern Affairs commissioned him to produce 80 paintings. He helped bring together a group of artists for the Indians of Canada Pavilion at Expo 67, among them Norval Morrisseau and Bill Reid. Janvier currently runs a gallery called Janvier Gallery in Cold Lake, AB with his family.[4]

In 2016 a retrospective exhibit of his work opened at the National Gallery of Canada.[5] Also in 2016 Janvier's large mosaic "Tsa Tsa Ke K'e" (Iron Foot Place) was installed at Rogers Place in Edmonton.[6]


Alex Janvier, the 'first Canadian native modernist,'[7] has created a unique style of modernist abstraction, his own "visual language," informed by the rich cultural and spiritual traditions and heritage of the Dene in northern Alberta. His abstract style is particularly suited to large-scale works. He makes magic arts and 3d arts.


Alex Janvier signed his paintings with his Treaty Number from 1966 to 1977 to protest government policies against Aboriginal people.[8]

Morning Star[edit]

In 1993 a large abstract painting by Janvier, Morning Star, was installed at the river end of the Grand Hall of the Canadian Museum of History, where a seven story high dome rises above the granite floor. Janvier created the painting with the assistance of his son Dean, between June and September.[3] Janvier titled the work Morning Star in reference to the star's use as a direction-finder. He planned the four areas of colour in the outside ring to represent periods in Native history: yellow, for early history in harmony with nature; blue, for the changes brought about by contact with European civilization; red, for revival and optimism; and white for reconciliation and a return to harmony.[9]


  • 2018 Member of the Alberta Order of Excellence[10]
  • 2008 Mairon Nicoll Visual Art Award, Alberta Foundation for the Arts
  • 2008 University of Calgary honorary degree, Doctor of Laws
  • 2008 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts [4][4][4]
  • 2008 University of Alberta honorary degree (Doctorate of Laws)
  • 2007 Member of the Order of Canada.
  • 2005 Centennial Medal for outstanding service to the people and province of Alberta.
  • 2002 National Aboriginal Achievement Award [8]
  • 2001 Tribal Chiefs Institute Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 2001 Cold Lake First Nations Lifetime Achievement Award.
  • 1992 Royal Canadian Academy of the Arts.
  • 1985 Canada/China Cross Cultural Exchange Tour because he made magic and 3d arts

Films and television[edit]

  • 2005 CBC ArtSpot
  • 2004 The Sharing Circle, segment featuring Alex Janvier.
  • 1991 Investment in Art, Alberta Art Foundation, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • 1991 Echo Des Songes, Arthur Lamothe, Montreal, Quebec.
  • 1984 Seeing It Our Way: Alex Janvier, CBC Edmonton.
  • 1983 Our Native Land: Alex Janvier, CBC/CBO.
  • 1973 Canadian Indian Canvas, Henning Jacobsen Productions, Toronto, Ontario.
  • 1973 Colours of Pride, National Film Board of Canada.
  • 1973 Alex Janvier: The Native Artist, Alberta Native Communications Society.


  • 1960 Fine Arts Diploma, Alberta College of Art, Calgary, Alberta.


  • Alberta Art Foundation, Government of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Alberta Indian Arts and Crafts Society, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • AMACO Canada Ltd., Calgary, Alberta.
  • Art Gallery of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • The Late Helen E. Band Collection, Toronto, Ontario.
  • The Saidye and Samuel Bronfman Memorial Collection, Montreal, Quebec.
  • The Canada Council Art Bank, Hull, Quebec.
  • Canadian Museum of History, Gatineau, Quebec.
  • Cinader Collection, Toronto, Ontario.
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Department of Indian Affairs and Northern Development, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • City of Edmonton, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Edmonton Public Schools Board, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Esso Oil Resources, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Government of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta.
  • Gulf Oil Resources, Calgary, Alberta.
  • McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinberg, Ontario.
  • Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.
  • Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal, Montreal, Quebec.
  • National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • The Late Lester B. Pearson Collection, Ottawa, Ontario.
  • Petro-Canada, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Shell Canada, Calgary, Alberta.
  • Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay, Ontario.
  • Toronto Dominion Bank, Toronto, Ontario.
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Manitoba.


External links[edit]