George Morrison (artist)

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George Morrison
Shoulder-high portrait of a man in his seventies, with gray hair, wearing glasses a striped shirt and a vest made of patchwork suitings
Chippewa City, Cook County, Minnesota
Died2000 (aged 80–81)
OccupationAbstract Expressionist Painter and Sculptor
Spouse(s)Hazel Belvo

George Morrison (1919 – April 17, 2000) was an American landscape painter and sculptor. His Indian name was Wah Wah Teh Go Nay Ga Bo (Standing In the Northern Lights).[1]

He is well known for wood collage sculptures and for the landscape paintings he preferred.[citation needed]

Early life and education[edit]

Morrison is of Chippewa ancestry. He was born in 1919 on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation near Chippewa City, Cook County, Minnesota. He attended Grand Marais High School, graduating in 1938, and then the Minnesota School of Art, now the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, graduating in 1943.[1]

Having been chosen to receive the Van Derlip Traveling Scholarship, Morrison studied at the Art Students League from 1943 to 1946 in New York City, where he became part of a circle of abstract expressionists.[citation needed]

In 1952 after receiving a Fulbright scholarship he studied in Paris and Antibes,[1] and at the University of Aix-Marseilles. In 1953 he was awarded a John Hay Whitney Fellowship.

Later life[edit]

He lived in Duluth, Minnesota for years and then moved back to New York City in 1954 where he became acquainted with prominent American expressionists: Willem de Kooning, Franz Kline and Jackson Pollock.[1]

He then taught in Minneapolis, Duluth, Dayton, Ohio, Ithaca (Cornell University), Pennsylvania (Penn State), and New York City.[1]

From 1963-1970 Morrison taught at the Rhode Island School of Design.[1]

In 1969 he was awarded an Honorary Master of Fine Arts at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design.

Beginning in 1970 he taught American Indian studies and art at the University of Minnesota until he retired in 1983.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He lived in a renovated church in Saint Paul, Minnesota with his son Briand and his wife, Hazel Belvo,[1] another Minnesota artist, who taught at Minneapolis College of Art and Design and Saint Paul Academy and is known for her series of pieces based on the Witch Tree.[citation needed]

During the mid-1970s, they acquired land near Grand Portage, Minnesota on Lake Superior, which they named Red Rock.[1] This became their home and studio.[1] He and Belvo divorced in 1991 but remained friends. Morrison suffered some life-threatening illnesses but kept on working until he died at Red Rock in April 2000.[1]

Selected solo exhibitions[edit]

Title:Untitled [sepia version]Date created:1987Artists/Makers:George Morrison, Minnesota Chippewa [Grand Portage, Minnesota], 1919-2000Series:Horizons seriesEdition:23/35Place:Minnesota; USA (inferred)Format/Object name:PrintMedia/Materials:Paper, inkTechniques:Lithographed, woodcut/woodblock printedCollection History/Provenance:Formerly in the collection of Terrence D. Curley; donated to NMAI in 2001 in memory of Olga M. Waisanen (1927-1995).Dimensions:189.3 x 65 cmCatalog number:25/9064


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Riddle, Mason (January 30, 2010). "An appreciation of George Morrison, a brilliant local artist who hung out with Jackson Pollock, who taught at Cornell and RISD, and who happened to be Native". Twin Cities Daily Planet. Retrieved January 30, 2010.


Further reading[edit]

  • W. Jackson Rushing III, Modern Spirit: The Art of George Morrison. Norman: University of Oklahoma, 2013. ISBN 978-0-806-14393-4.

External links[edit]