About the Author

Anne Newlands

Anne Newlands

Books by this Author

Canadian Art

From Its Beginnings to 2000
edition:Hardcover
tagged : canadian
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Clarence Gagnon

Clarence Gagnon

An Introduction to His Life and Art
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
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Emily Carr

Emily Carr

An Introduction to Her Life and Art
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson

The Group of Seven and Tom Thomson

An Introduction
edition:Hardcover
also available: Paperback
tagged : canadian
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Excerpt

Excerpt

They Form the Group of Seven

On a winter evening in 1920, several of the Studio Building artists, along with Frank Johnston, gathered at Lawren Harris's house to discuss their plans for a group exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto. They wondered what they should call themselves. While the artists shared certain ideals about a new approach to Canadian painting, there was no single theme that united their work. The only thing which could be said about all of them was that they were seven artists. Hence, the Group of Seven.

A.Y. Jackson described the Group's organization as "a loose one, no officers, no bylaws and no fees." It was so loose, in fact, that Jackson himself was informed of his membership only upon his return to the city after a sketching trip. Once the Group was formed, the artists' lives continued much as before -- they met for lunch now and then, took sketching trips and, a few times a year, discussed exhibition plans.

The cover of the Group of Seven's first exhibition catalogue was designed by Franklin Carmichael. Its graphic simplicity echoed the directness of the artists' statement that appeared inside. Written by Harris, it stressed that Canada, to be a real home for its people, must have its own art, free from the traditions of Europe. Despite earlier criticism in the press, most of the reviews of the exhibition were positive: Canada at last seemed ready to support its artists.

While the first exhibition displayed a variety of subjects, including street scenes and portraits, the artists generally shared the belief that the northern Canadian landscape represented the spirit of the country. In March Storm, Georgian Bay, Jackson aimed to capture the wild and rugged excitement of the North in a manner that was equally untamed.

At first glance, we cannot imagine a less inviting place -- the cold snow clouds descend toward the horizon, blocking out the late-winter light. The trees in the distance, shaped like the jagged edge of a saw, are bent by the fierce wind, while the water has turned a chilly dark green. Jackson has applied his paint with swift, bold brush strokes, conveying the strength and energy of nature and revealing a new kind of beauty in the bitter climate.

 

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