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Biography & Autobiography Artists, Architects, Photographers

A.Y. Jackson

The Life of a Landscape Painter

by (author) Wayne Larsen

Dundurn Press
Initial publish date
Sep 2009
Artists, Architects, Photographers, Canadian, General
  • eBook

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2009
    List Price

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Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974) is a name that instantly conjures up images of our rugged northern landscape and the controversial Group of Seven. This is the first-ever full-length biography of one of Canada’s most beloved characters, and the first to examine in one book the artist, outdoorsman, soldier, teacher, debater, writer, and outspoken defender of modern art.
Jackson spent nearly seventy years travelling Canada on a lifelong quest to, rendering his impressions of its diverse character on canvas and promoting a vibrant, uniquely Canadian style of painting. From southern Alberta to Ellesmere Island, from Newfoundland to Northern British Columbia, he covered more ground than any other artist – scoffing at harsh weather and hostile criticism along the way.
A.Y. Jackson takes readers on a journey through Jackson’s struggles and triumphs, from his childhood in Victorian-era Montreal through his final years as a living legend of Canadian art who thought nothing of camping in a tent on Baffin Island at age 82.

About the author

Wayne Larsen is a Montreal artist, editor, and writer whose work has appeared in a wide variety of publications. Currently, he teaches graduate-level journalism at Concordia University and is the author of A.Y. Jackson: The Life of a Landscape Painter and James Wilson Morrice: Painter of Light and Shadow. He lives in Verdun, Quebec.

Wayne Larsen's profile page


  • Winner, Dewey Diva Pick

Editorial Reviews

Montreal journalist Wayne Larsen gives a detailed account of the bachelor's painter's life. The text is helpfully broken up by headings and the book is beautifully illustrated with a wealth of Jackson's vibrant, now-iconic works.

Winnipeg Free Press

What emerges is a portrait of the artist as a man of grit and perseverance, hard working, humorous and down to earth.

Literary Review of Canada, The

A.Y. Jackson, Life of a Landscape Painter, by Montrealer Wayne Larsen (Dundurn, 266 pages, $60), immediately takes its place among the best books about a Canadian artist. Larson has written a highly readable account of a life chock full of incidents.

Montreal Gazette

The first full-length history of a Canadian icon? So it would seem, and an elegant one that teats the painter's life and works with reverence. Unlike most biographies this one is presented in digestible segments that allow the reader's eye to flit from canvas to canvas without sacrificing the artist's life tale.

Globe & Mail, The

Through anecdotes and excerpts from Jackson’s writings, Larsen portrays the public man as good-humoured and outgoing but the private man remains opaque.

Canada’s History magazine

... a feast for the eyes and an intimate look at Jackson's life, detailing how the maverick outdoorsman rose from an impoverished childhood to become the de facto leader of the Group of Seven.

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