Lot # 214
Fall 2016 - 4th Session Live auction
William Ronald (Bill) Reid
1920 - 1998 Canadian
bronze sculpture with brown patina
signed, editioned 7/9, dated 1984 and inscribed with the foundry mark of Tallix Foundry, New York
44 x 25 x 19 in 111.8 x 63.5 x 48.3cm
Elizabeth Nichol's Equinox Gallery, Vancouver
Peter and Joanne Brown Collection, Vancouver, acquired from the above in 1986
Doris Shadbolt and Claude Lévi~Strauss, Bill Reid: A Retrospective
Exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery, 1974, the 1971 gold cast reproduced page 2
Doris Shadbolt, Bill Reid, 1986, the 1971 gold cast reproduced pages 136 and 137, the 1982 boxwood carving reproduced pages 138 and 139, and the 1984 large bronze entitled Chief of the Undersea World reproduced page 55
Karen Duffek, Bill Reid: Beyond the Essential Form, UBC Museum of Anthropology, 1986, the 1984 large bronze and the 1982 boxwood carving reproduced page 22 and the 1971 gold cast reproduced pages 34 and 49
Karen Duffek and Charlotte Townsend~Gault, editors, Bill Reid and Beyond, 2004, the clay model for the large bronze reproduced page 41, the large bronze reproduced figure 15 and the boxwood carving reproduced figure 16, unpaginated
Daina Augaitis et al., Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, 2006, pages 25 and 46, the bronze sculpture from this edition reproduced page 43
Vancouver Art Gallery, Raven Travelling: Two Centuries of Haida Art, June 10 - September 17, 2006, a bronze sculpture from this edition, catalogue #29
This bronze casting is one of a series of carvings and sculptures, created in different sizes and materials, through which the Haida artist Bill Reid envisioned the killer whale, a creature inhabiting both natural and mythological worlds. The Haida word for killer whale - sgaana - means both “killer whale” and supernatural “power.” In the mythological narratives of the Haida, killer whales were creatures of the ocean and also of the World Below, the realm where whales were chiefs of sea beings. Of all the Ocean People, killer whales were the most powerful because they controlled the food resources of the sea. The Haida knew of more than 50 supernatural killer whale chiefs. Each was associated with specific geographical features of the waters around Haida Gwaii, including islands, reefs, or such prominent landmarks as Rose Spit. There, beneath the surface, the Ocean People lived in towns in the manner of humans. Killer whale representations in paintings and sculptures are often crest images, symbolizing inherited family privileges and revealing the links between human and animal worlds.
This sculpture was created as an intermediate stage in the production of one of Reid’s best-known monumental works, the 5.5 metre (18-foot) bronze killer whale commissioned by the Vancouver Aquarium in 1984. In both instances, the breaching whale combines naturalism with stylized forms. Haida conventions are particularly evident in the form of the head, the face in the blowhole, and the two-dimensional images cast in shallow relief on the dorsal fin and body.
The progenitor for Reid’s bronze killer whale sculptures is his three-dimensional whale, cast in gold in 1971 using the lost-wax process, that appears to leap from the lid of an engraved gold box (in the collection of the Royal BC Museum). Reid further interpreted this subject in jewellery, drawings and prints, and in 1982 carved a small killer whale of boxwood that became the inspiration for his subsequent bronzes. Assisted in the studio by Jim Hart and George Rammell, Reid created the bronze sculpture shown here by scaling up the boxwood model in clay and then plaster, adjusting its proportions and two-dimensional motifs to the larger size. The edition of 9 was then cast at the Tallix Foundry in New York, where the monumental version was also made.
During his lifetime Reid achieved international acclaim as both a jeweller and a sculptor, playing a pivotal role in rebuilding an understanding of Haida art and bringing it to world attention. In numerous works he sought to fuse Haida expressive forms with the conventions of western modernism. Pieces such as the 1970 boxwood carving The Raven Discovering Mankind in a Clamshell find inspiration in western sculptural traditions, as well as the more freely sculptural and narrative works created by late-nineteenth-century Haida argillite carvers. Major monumental works in his oeuvre include the six totem poles carved with Doug Cranmer at the University of British Columbia (1958 - 1962); the house frontal pole at the Skidegate band council office (1978); The Raven and the First Men, a yellow-cedar sculpture at the UBC Museum of Anthropology (1980); the bronze killer whale, Chief of the Undersea World, outside the Vancouver Aquarium (1984); the plaster cast for it in the Canadian Museum of Civilization; and The Spirit of Haida Gwaii, a six-metre bronze sculpture at the Canadian embassy in Washington, DC (1991). The Jade Canoe, a second casting of the bronze, was completed for the Vancouver International Airport in 1996. A Haida masterwork, Reid’s Killer Whale is arguably his finest pure expression of a form of singular intensity.
Please note: the base of this work measures 4 x 26 x 18 inches.
All prices are in Canadian Dollars.
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