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’.
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.
I 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.