Bob Boyer: His Life's Work
The Blanket Paintings: The Rise of Boyer's Artistic Career
For best viewing, this page requires the Adobe Flash Player plug-in. Download here.
[Installation photos of blanket paintings, view of prairie landscape, detail of blanket “Self-Portrait as Twins”]
Narrator: Bob Boyer is remembered for his unusual choice of using blankets as a foundation for his work. Although according to Ann there was a less artistic reason behind it.
Ann Boyer: A lot of people know Bob - Bob the artist and that’s not the Bob I know. A lot of people will look at his art and they’ll say, “Oh this was a pivotal point in your career Bob.” This piece whatever it’s called. And I go, “No, the pivotal point in his career was when he realized he couldn’t cut a 45 degree angle to save his life.”
[Interview footage of Carment Robertson, Assistant Professor, Department of Visual Arts, University of Regina, followed by cut-away to detail of “A Small Pox Issue”]
Carmen Robertson: I guess one of the most powerful paintings for me was, “Small Pox Issue.” And of course it is such a pivotal work in changing the direction of his career, with the colours are so sensuous. They pull you in and then bring you close and then your repelled at the same time. So something that is seductive visually. But then the background the heaviness, the weight of those issues really repel you at the same time. I think that is a really interesting dynamic in a lot of Bob’s work but especially in that first blanket statement.
[Interview footage of Lee-Ann Martin, Curator, Contemporary Canadian Aboriginal Art, Canadian Museum of Civilization, former Head Curator, MacKenzie Art Gallery, interspersed with image of “Trains-N-Boats-N-Plains: The Nina, the Santa Maria and a Pinto”, detail of “Sundance Shield”, “Portrait of the Artist as a Storm”]
Lee-Ann Martin: I got to know Bob during the time he was doing his blankets and I really feel that he was …he was trying to really essentialize the northern plains deigns - the beadwork, the quillwork. But he didn’t want to replicate it, you know at all because very many of the designs are personal and familial and he didn’t want to do that. But he really wanted to abstract them and to elevate them. So that people could really appreciate in the design. In his own art I think he really took liberty with colours so he may have been based upon- inspired by traditional northern plains designs. But he took his own artistic liberty and so you could see that really developing which was thoroughly contemporary and Bob was so unique when he began painting his blankets. Of course the medium itself, the blanket- from his very first painting which was “A Small Pox Issue” the curators and critics went wild over his work .
[Interview footage of Karen Duffek, Curator, Museum of Antrhopology, University of British Columbia, installation photo of “Bob Boyer: A Blanket Statement”]
Karen Duffek: When we were working on the Bob Boyer show, at MOA at the Museum of Anthropology. We were kind of debating about the title and so I suggested we call it “ Bob Boyer Blanket Statement.”… and he liked that idea and he was thinking should we call it “Bob Boyer Blankety, blank statement!“...laughs..
[Interview footage with Gerald McMaster, Curator of Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, cutaway to “On the Road to Melfort” and “Powwow on Thunder Mountain”, footage of powwow dancers, cutaway “To the End of Time”, Hewey, Dewey and Lewey Wannabee: A Re-appropriation of Mis-appropriated Appropriation (formerly Huey, Dewey and Louie Wannabee)”
Gerald McMaster: It was early on in the early 80’s he came across this idea of painting on blankets you know and up until then he was a realist. He painted realistic scenes, but he used some traditional materials often in his works, but he slowly started to move to move towards this abstract way of painting. I felt that with his, with the combined interest in the powwow regalia, because pow wow regalia has got these abstract designs on it you know…and you know being Plains the abstract seem to be something was a typical sensibility for our ancestors and I felt that was probably the inspiration Bob had you know. When he was beading...and doing beadwork, your really largely doing these abstract designs on beads and so that then I think he then managed to push that onto his paintings and then all of a sudden you saw these large abstract designs appearing on the blankets, that was one thing. I think the second thing that he was interested in was kinda a more historical angle in which First Nations were during the colonial period, which blankets were used as a medium for delivering disease, infested blankets to First Nations as a …kinda that hidden enemy you know. I think the, his art has managed to be of interest now, of course the next thing we begin to ask is to what extent is Bob’s art gonna be known outside the prairies because it’s quite local, you know…Time will tell, you know to what extent now we will know more about Bob outside Saskatchewan, outside the prairies.
Size: 19.5 MB
Credits: Video produced by Blue Hill Productions