Greul, Charles B. (1923 - )

Culture/Community

Canadian

Biography

A Canadian printmaker who produced images that drew on and appropriated Northwest Coast First Nations art styles. His most popular work was a series of black ink silkscreened images of crest motifs on rice paper. These images were also available in a series of postcard booklets. Greul was not Indigenous. Historically, the first use of silkscreening by a Northwest Coast artist was in 1949, when Kwakwaka’wakw artist Ellen Neel had her designs screened onto cloth scarves. Soon after, Greul began to market his silkscreen designs on rice paper. His designs were mass distributed through the Hudson’s Bay Company retail stores in the 1950s. He was one of the first artists to make Northwest Coast-style designs available commercially in the mid 20th century. His work sold quite well to a public largely unknowledgeable about Northwest Coast art, but eager to buy “Indian” images. Greul’s work reflects his lack of training in the art’s forms and cultural meanings. It was partly in reaction to Greul’s works that some Indigenous Northwest Coast artists decided to begin producing silkscreen prints of their own, hoping to create a better understanding and appreciation of their inherited art styles and forms, to develop a market for Northwest Coast art, and to assert their cultural rights to such art practices.