Morrison, George (1919–2000) By Morris, Kate
George Morrison was a Native American (Chippewa) painter who played an active role in the formation of Abstract Expressionism. Morrison attended the Art Students League in New York City from 1943–1946, and was considered a member of the New York School, exhibiting alongside Franz Kline, Willem de Kooning, Ad Reinhardt, Louise Bourgeois, Mark Rothko, and others. Morrison’s paintings rarely contained overtly Indian signifiers, yet his early interest in nature and the unconscious, as well as his engagement with Surrealist practices such as automatism, made him an ally of modern primitivism. His experimentation with non-figural and biomorphic forms led him to develop a mature style of abstraction that combined color field and gestural approaches: he is best known for large-scale paintings, drawings, and wood collages that convey rhythmic and tactile sensations of the urban and natural environments. From 1970 to 1983 Morrison was a member of the faculty of Studio Arts at the University of Minnesota, and from 1983 until his death in 2000 he lived and worked on the Grand Portage Indian Reservation on the shore of Lake Superior. In 2004, Morrison was one of two artists featured in the inaugural exhibition of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian.