Robert Davidson


November 4, 1946

Hydaberg, Alaska

Robert Davidson belongs to the Eagle clan. He comes from a family of acclaimed Haida artists, including his father, Claude Davidson, his great grandfather, Charles Edenshaw, and his brother, Reg Davidson. He was born in Alaska, but raised in Massett, Haida Gwaii. Robert works in cedar, gold, silver, argillite, bronze, and silkscreen. In 1959, he carved argillite totem poles with his father and grandfather. Between 1966-69, he apprenticed with Bill Reid, and from 1967-68 studied at the Vancouver School of Art. In 1969, Robert carved and raised a 40-foot totem pole in Masset, which was the first to be raised since 1871. In 1977, Robert and his apprentices carved a memorial to his great grandfather for the Charles Edenshaw Memorial Longhouse in Old Masset. This building would later burn down. In 1984, Robert carved a talking stick for Pope John Paul II to commemorate his visit to Vancouver. In 1985, he carved three totem poles for the Pepsi Co. International Sculpture Garden, and in 1986 he was commissioned to create a painting for Expo ’86 in Vancouver. In 1992, Robert was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Victoria, BC. In 1993, there was a major retrospective of Robert’s works at the Vancouver Art Gallery, which then travelled on to the Museum of Civilization in Hull, Quebec. In May of 1996, Robert was awarded the Order of Canada. In 2004, Robert had another solo show, at Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology titled The Abstract Edge. Publications include: Robert Davidson, Haida Printmaker (1979); Robert Davidson, Eagle of the Dawn by Hilary Stewart (1993); Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast by Ian M. Thom (2009); and Four Decades: An Innocent Gesture by Robert Davidson (2009). In 2019, Robert was featured in the landmark publication Understanding Northwest Coast Indigenous Jewelry by author Alex Dawkins.