Category Archives: WInnipeg Art Gallery

Picasso’s Grandmother is Canadian

In 1986 when the curators of the Picasso Museum in Antibes France decided to paint a memorial artwork to honour Picasso, a Canadian woman was chosen as one of four artists from around the world to help create the memorial. Her name was Daphne Odjig.  

Daphne died last year at age 97 after a remarkable career.  She was  dubbed  Picasso’s Grandmother by fellow indigenous artist Norval Morrisseau. Daphne discovered the paintings of Picasso in the 1950s and carefully studied and analyzed his work. Picasso upon seeing Daphne’s work at an exhibition called her  ‘a remarkable artist’. 


Tribute to Picasso by Daphne Odjig

Daphne is sometimes referred to as the Grandmother of Indigenous Art.    Joseph Sanchez says Daphne was indeed a ‘grandmother’ figure to many indigenous artists. “Her energy guided us,” he says.  She also gave indigenous artists financial support by buying their paintings for her gallery.

friends rejoicing by daphne odjigI always end my Picasso tours at the Winnipeg Art Gallery by going to look at Daphne’s painting Friends Rejoicing in our collection and tell my tour participants about Canada’s Grandmother Picasso. 

Other posts…….

The Song My Paddle Sings

An Award Winner Inspires Teens

A Different View of the World

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A Slightly Tipsy Bullfighter

cavalier faun 1956 picassoHe’s toasting us with a cocktail.  This interesting plate is part of the current Picasso exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  It is titled Cavalier Faun. The creature on the horse is a mythical faun, half goat and half human.  If you look closely you can see his horns.  One of the participants on a tour I led said the faces around the edge depict the crowd seated around the bull fighting ring. 

the cavalier faun picassoWith his drink glass tilted jauntily in one hand the faun isn’t as serious a picador as one might expect to see at a bullfight. His eyes are looking at us the viewers, rather than straight ahead to see where the horse is going. One gallery visitor on a tour I was leading said the line at the bottom of the horse makes it look almost like a toy rocking horse. They thought the horse looked a little bull legged. 

The design The Cavalier Faun served Picasso well.  He used it on many plain white earthenware plates and also on a series of gold medallions. 

le banderillo by picassoPicasso was born in Spain and attended many bullfights.  His fascination with the sport is evidenced in other works currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery like the lino cut above called Le Banderilla. 

Other posts………..

Picasso Not Really a Family Man

Picasso Acrostic

I’m Shattered

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Picasso’s Hidden Message

“Are there any hidden messages in the paintings?”  I was starting a tour with some elementary school students at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  I told them we would be like detectives or explorers looking for interesting details in the art.  One girl put up her hand to ask if I knew of  any hidden or secret messages in the paintings.  Luckily I had an idea where we could find one.  

woman in a hat with flowers dora maar 1944

Women in a Hat With Flowers by Picasso 1944

As we viewed this painting Picasso made of his lover Dora Maar I asked the children if they could find Dora’s name hidden in the painting. It didn’t take them long to pick out the four letters.  Check out the arrows. 

letter D woman in a hat with flowers dora maar 1945

The upper case D

letter o woman in a hat with flowers dora maar 1946

The letter o

letter rwoman in a hat with flowers dora maar 1947

The cursive r

letter a woman in a hat with flowers dora maar 1948

The letter A two ways- a lower case backwards one to the right or an uppercase sideways one to the left

The children thought it was very cool Picasso hid Dora’s name in his painting of her.  It got them searching for hidden messages in every piece of art. The intense looking that inspired helped them discover lots of other interesting things about the artwork they viewed. 

Other posts……..

What in the World is That?

Plants That Talked to Me

Two Artists -Me and My Grandson

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Filed under Art, Education, WInnipeg Art Gallery

Nostalgic Tour

They were from Shanghai and Beijing and Shenzhen and Kunming and many other places I have visited.  I had the pleasure of taking a Chinese community group of Winnipeg residents on a tour of the Picasso exhibit at the Winnipeg Art Gallery last week.  I lived in Hong Kong for six years and so it was interesting to find out where people in the group came from and to compare notes about their home cities.  I had visited most of them. 

chinese tour group at wagIt was my first tour with a translator and so I had to give information in small bits and then wait while it was translated into Mandarin. Hearing Mandarin spoken again, and talking with the tour participants about places that I had come to know, made me nostalgic.  It was a nice feeling though. I’m not sorry I live in Canada now but chatting with my tour participants from China brought back fond memories of the time I spent in Asia. 

Other posts………

Dancing in Shangri-La

Ai Wei Wei

Stick Stick Men

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A Scary Story

joe talirunili

A new display of Inuit artwork on the mezzanine level of the Winnipeg Gallery includes this popular piece called Migration by Joe Talirunili. It tells the story of a harrowing time in Joe’s childhood. I found many different versions of the story on the internet but here is my compilation. Joe and his family and some friends were going back home on their sleds after a celebration on an island in Hudson’s Bay.   The ice under them began to break up and they were trapped on an ice floe. They had to work fast before the ice floe broke up further, but they managed to use the wood from their sleds and some seal skins to make a boat that got them to shore.  The shoreline was made up of very steep rock and so they secured their boat with a rope and waited.  The wind blew incredibly hard for almost a week making it too dangerous for them to leave.  They nearly starved to death before the weather let up and they were able to find their way home. Some people lost their lives at various points in the tragic story.  Joe made some thirty carvings of this adventure all called Migration. One of Joe’s Migration sculptures was featured on a Canadian stamp in 1976 the year he died, and in 2006 another sold at auction for $278,000 the highest price ever for a single Inuit artwork. 

Other posts about Inuit artists………

Getting to Know Oviloo

Transferring the Real to the Unreal

Falling in Love


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Picasso – Not Really a Family Man

seated woman 1926-1927

Seated Woman by Pablo Picasso 1927

It has been suggested that this work by Pablo Picasso currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is actually a portrait of the great artist’s family. Version 2If you look closely you can see the three intertwining heads of Picasso, his wife Olga and their son Paulo.


By Pablo Picasso – Agence Photographique de la Réunion des Musées Nationaux

Picasso also painted this portrait of his wife. She was Olga Khokhlova a ballet dancer from Russia. Picasso met her when he designed the costumes and sets for a ballet she was performing in Paris. 


Portrait of Paulo by Pablo Picasso -1923

Picasso and Olga’s son Paulo was born in 1921.

seated woman 1926-1927

Seated Woman by Pablo Picasso 1927

Interestingly the painting of his family currently at the Winnipeg Art Gallery was made the same year Picasso began having an affair with a seventeen year old girl, Marie-Thérèse Walter. As he was painting a portrait of the people in his family intertwined together…. he was in the process of breaking his family apart.  

Version 2

Lithograph of Marie Therese – 1928 Pablo Picasso – currently on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Olga left him when she found out about Marie but stayed married to Picasso till her death in 1955, largely because it was the only way she could continue to force him to provide her with financial support.   Sadly Paulo, who was Olga and Picasso’s son, became an alcoholic and died in 1975.  Paulo’s children remember going begging at their grandfather’s door for food and money and being turned away. 

Seated Woman by Pablo Picasso 1927

Seated Woman may be a family portrait but it is not a happy one. Picasso wasn’t really a family man. 

Other posts……..

I’m Shattered

Who’s Twiggy

Picasso Acrostic 

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Build Your Own

The roof is one of my favorite places to take children when they visit the Winnipeg Art Gallery.  They love the idea of being on the very top of the building.  The roof top is closed in winter but lately the beautiful weather has meant we can be outside again.  The signature work on the roof top is this inukshuk sculpture by Manasie Akpaliapik. The children and I look at it carefully and marvel at how the artist got all those uniquely shaped pieces of rock to balance.  I use illustrations to discuss the different kinds of inukshuks built by the Inuit and the purpose of each one.  Then I let some of the children try on the snow goggles that you might have used if you were an explorer in the Arctic searching for an inukshuk.  The goggles which prevent snow blindness are a work of art themselves.  After that it’s time to let the children use baskets of blocks to create inukshuks of their own.  They come up with all kinds of interesting designs.  They gain a real appreciation for artist Manasie Akpaliapik’s work as they try to balance the pieces in their own inukshuk. Last week I was marveling at just how creative all our young visitors to the gallery are, so I decided to take a few photos of their inukshuks.  If you’ve never been on the Winnipeg Art Gallery roof top be sure to go up there on your next visit.  If you let me know you are coming I can join you with our baskets of blocks. 

Other posts……

Portraits in Plasticene

What’s a Portscape?

Love My Job


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