Robert Davidson (artist)

Robert Charles Davidson, CM, OBC (born 4 November 1946 in Hydaburg, Alaska), is a Canadian artist of Haida heritage. Davidson's Haida name is G̲uud San Glans, which means "Eagle of the Dawn". He is a leading figure in the renaissance of Haida art and culture.

Robert Charles Davidson
Born4 November 1946 (1946-11-04) (age 73)
NationalityHaida people, Canadian
Known forcarving, printmaking, painting, jewellery

Life and work

Davidson is known internationally as a carver of totem poles and masks, printmaker, painter and jeweller. He lives near Vancouver, working out of a studio on Semiahmoo First Nation land and making annual return visits to Haida Gwaii.

His parents are Claude and Vivian Davidson. Through Claude, he is the grandson of the Haida artist and memoirist Florence Davidson. He is a member of the Eagle moiety, Ts'ał'lanas lineage. His younger brother and former apprentice, Reg Davidson, is also a Haida carver.

In infancy, Robert Davidson moved with his family to the Haida village of Masset, British Columbia, on Haida Gwaii (Queen Charlotte Islands). For high school, he moved to Vancouver to attend Point Grey Secondary School in 1965. In 1966 he became apprenticed to the master Haida carver Bill Reid. In 1967 he began studies at the Vancouver School of Art. In 1969 he carved and raised the first totem pole on Haida Gwaii in approximately ninety years.

His works are included in the collections of the National Gallery of Canada, the Canadian Museum of Civilization and the Vancouver Art Gallery.[1] His style, which engages with both Haida and Western art history, has been described as "contemporary-traditional", reflecting an overlap of "community-based and outsider-orientated" artistic projects.[2]

A significant solo exhibition of his work, Robert Davidson: The Abstract Edge, was organized by the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia (UBC) for viewing at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 2007.

Awards and recognition

If we look at the world in the form of a circle, let us look at what is on the inside of the circle as experience, culture and knowledge: Let us look at this as the past. What is outside of the circle is yet to be experienced. But in order to expand the circle we must know what is inside the circle.

guud san glans, Robert Davidson[12]


  1. "Eight remarkable Canadians win Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts from the Canada Council for the Arts". news release. Canada Council for the Arts. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  2. Berlo, Janet C.; Phillips, Ruth B. (1998). Native North American Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 210.
  3. "Honorary degree recipients". University of Victoria. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  4. "Honorary degree recipients". Simon Fraser University. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  5. "1995 Recipient: Robert Davidson – White Rock". Order of British Columbia. Province of British Columbia. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  6. "Mr. Robert Davidson". Laureates. Indspire. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  7. "Order of Canada Robert Davidson, C.M., O.B.C., D.F.A.(Hon)". Honours. Governor General of Canada, Archives. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  8. "Honorary Degrees Conferred by UBC". University of British Columbia. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  9. "ABORIGINAL ARTISTS RECEIVE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS". news release. BC Achievement Foundation. Retrieved 14 September 2013.
  10. "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on 26 May 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.
  11. "Haida artist Davidson wins B.C.'s Audain Prize". CBC News. Retrieved 21 March 2017.
  12. "Robert Davidson, Eagle of the Dawn Artist Ltd". Eagle of the Dawn Artist Ltd. Retrieved 14 September 2013.


  • Blackman, Margaret B. (1982; rev. ed., 1992) During My Time: Florence Edenshaw Davidson, a Haida Woman. Seattle: University of Washington Press.
  • Jensen, Doreen, and Polly Sargent (1986) Robes of Power: Totem Poles on Cloth. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.
  • Macnair, Peter L., Alan L. Hoover, and Kevin Neary (1984) The Legacy: Tradition and Innovation in Northwest Coast Indian Art. Vancouver, B.C.: Douglas & McIntyre.
  • Stewart, Hilary (1993). Looking at Totem Poles. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 0-295-97259-9.
  • Robert Davidson lands lifetime achievement award By Alex Browne, Arts Reporter, Peace Arch News, 12 June 2007
  • Rhyne, Charles, Robert Davidson, and Susan Fillin-Yeh (1998) Expanding the Circle: The Art of Guud San Glans, Robert Davidson. Portland, Ore: Douglas F. Cooley Memorial Art Gallery, Reed College.
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