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Canadian Art in the 1920's & 30's

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by

Michael Bida

on 7 May 2014

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Transcript of Canadian Art in the 1920's & 30's

The 20's
-A uniquely Canadian art movement came forth in the 20's, doing away with learned European styles and techniques
-A new, distinctively Canadian style was developed, one that became known for its typical abstracted landscapes
-The revered "Group of Seven" epitomise this new vision, and were keen to spread it throughout the country
-Another famous Canadian artist from this decade of productivity is Emily Carr, who had links to the Group of Seven
-Written work was also undergoing a sort of heyday, with "The Montréal Group" of poets bringing a new modernist approach and novels that would come to be Canadian classics being published.
Emily Carr
-Possibly the most well known of all Canadian artists to date
-Known primarily for her paintings of West Coast landscapes and Aboriginal life, her works have been said to carry a sense of constant motion and grandeur and are highly praised
-Painted in a style similar to the Group of Seven and, while never a member of the group, influenced and was influenced by them with close ties



The 20's
Written Work
The 20's
The Group of Seven


The 30's
-As all non-essential commodities did during the Great Depression, Art in general suffered a drop from the hyper-productivity of the 20's
-This being said, Art may be the societal aspect to have gone through the least significant decline in this turn of a decade, miles less noticeable than finance, per say
-A period of stagnation, a creative lull of sorts was experienced instead
-This is shown by the dissolution of the Group of Seven, the fall-out of several poetry publications including the "Canadian Mercury", Emily Carr's end to her painting career, generally the continuation or fading out of things started in the 20's
-Despite all this, the 30's were somewhat of a golden age for Art Déco architecture, and as a kind of display of the small population living in continued decadence many buildings were designed and constructed in this style



Canadian Art in the 1920's & 30's
-Original members include Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris , A. Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer , J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varle.
-An all male group formed officially in 1919 that toured Canada, spreading both their specific Canadian style and depictions of faraway places in Canada that people would not have seen otherwise
-Became something of national pride, as the group gained international acclaim and were considered noble for their contribution to 20's society
-Their artwork defines the aforementioned minimalist abstract landscape style; some of the most famous of their works will be shown in the next few slides:
The Group of Seven
"North Shore, Lake Superior" Lawren Stewart Harris
"Serenity, Lake of the Woods" Francis Hans Johnston
"Evening, Les Éboulements" Alexander Young Jackson
"Open Window" Frederick Horsman Varley
"A September Gale, Georgian Bay" Arthur Lismer
"Falls, Montréal River" James Edward Hervey MacDonald
Emily Carr
-Born in 1871, with the height of her career being the mid 20's to 30's
-Was one of the only female artists in the western world at the time and is considered "a darling of the women's movement" for living as a sort of starving artist in such a male-dominant, largely inartistic time
-Was a writer also, and has modern recognition such as several eponymous schools and pieces in galleries worldwide
-Examples of her riveting work in the slides to come:

The 20's
"Shoreline" Emily Carr
"Above the Gravel Pit" Emily Carr
"Vanquished" Emily Carr
"I think that one's art is a growth inside one. I do not think one can explain growth. It is silent and subtle. One does not keep digging up a plant to see how it grows."

-Emily Carr
-One could say that some Canadian written work was developing similarly to visual art, developing a more modernist approach focused on nature.
-The "Montréal Group" were poets installing this new abstract style into their work, with themes of landscape, realism, and metaphysical complexity
-The first of an acclaimed series of 16, the epic romantic novel "Jalna" was published in 1927 by female writer Mazo de la Roche

Comparison
1920's
1930's
-Group of Seven forms and tours Canada
-Emily Carr gains recognition
-Montréal group formed
-Novelists create many works that go on to become literary classics
-Progress in women's rights with Emily Carr and Mazo de la Roche becoming strong female figures in the Canadian art scene
-Canadian identity created within the arts, diverging from European styles to one uniquely Canadian and expressive of the land itself
-Dissolution of the Group of 7, Carr's retirement from painting, general lull in contrast to 20's, though this was hardy notable and painting could be considered to have broadened artistically
-A crash never did happen to art in an obvious way, it was just less productive and inventive than the 20's, with many of the great things just continuing through the two decades.
The Dominion Public Building in London, ON is a prime example of Art Déco 30's Canadian architecture
End
The Canadian Group of Painters
-As much as it may seem to have suffered, painted art really continued to thrive, just in a different way
-After the disbandment of the Group of Seven, several of its members started the "Canadian Group of Painters" (CGP), a group of 28 anglophone painters (male & female) in February, 1933
-All painted in a style similar to the Group of 7, and exhibited in Canada and the US
-Works by the group (mainly by ones prior Group of Seven members) achieved international recognition
-The CGP continued until 1967, to some extent
-Philosophy of the group was mainly to support and increase Canadian art, artists and expression
-the "Eastern Group of Painters" was another Canadian painting group, formed in 1938 in Montréal, created to counter the influence of the CGP, as many artists felt undermined by the CGP's near artistic monopoly
-The Eastern Group's ideology was quite the contrary to the CGP, to create art for art's sake, untied by any nationalist restrictions
-Planned to install variation and purpose to Canadian art
-Examples of work from each follows:


The 30's
CGP: "Radium Mine" A.Y. Jackson
Eastern: "Stormy Skies over Calumet" Goodridge Roberts
CGP: "Going to Work" Phillip Surrey
Eastern: "Group on Provincetown Beach" John Lyman
CGP: "Place Jaques Cartier" Adrien Hebert
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