Vancouver Art Gallery collection of First Nations art gets a boost

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      The Vancouver Art Gallery now has the most significant collection in the world of works by famed First Nations artist Robert Davidson.

      Thirteen pieces have been added to VAG holdings of work by the artist, whose Haida name Guud San Glans means Eagle of The Dawn, with a donation from the collection of aboriginal artworks from the late George Gund III of San Francisco.

      In a news release Wednesday (October 14), the art gallery announced that it has acquired the Gund collection of 37 historical and contemporary pieces from various artists.

      The Gund collection is currently on exhibit at the art gallery until January 31, 2016.

      Thirteen, including eight masks, of the 37 pieces are by Davidson, whose numerous awards include the Order of British Columbia, and the Order of Canada.

      Davidson, who is of Haida and Tlingit descent, is a master carver of totem poles and masks. He is also a painter, printmaker, and jeweler.

      In its news release, the VAG noted that First Nations art are typically found in museums of history and anthropology rather than in art museums.

      The art gallery stated that it wants to remedy this situation by building up its collection of Native art.

      “The Gund collection greatly enhances our ability to show the history of art making in this part of the world while also providing an important counterbalance to the Euro-Canadian narratives of art making already in the collection,” gallery director Kathleen Bartels explained in the news release.

      Bartels added: “It is an honour for the Vancouver Art Gallery to acquire this distinguished collection of First Nations art and to make it accessible to Gallery visitors. We are grateful to Mr. Gund III and his executors, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, for their assistance in securing this remarkable bequest.”