Monday, January 23, 2012

Spotlight on The Group Of Seven

Algoma Sketch II - Lawren Harris

It is almost impossible to think of the Canadian art scene and not immediately have the Group Of Seven come to mind. Iconic images of the Canadian landscape form the backdrop to this incredibly successful group of artists that changed the face of art and Canadian's place in it. In fact, the Group of Seven heralded Canada's first National art scene via the creativity from seven Canadian painters that are still cherished to this day. And who were the first members of this distinguished group? None other than Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer and Frederick Varley.

Autumn Foliage - Tom Thomson
The founding gentlemen of the Group of Seven began to meet around 1913 in Toronto, Ontario. Another artist by the name of Tom Thomson joined these original members in discussing their painting and art theories. They began to meet at a studio in Rosedale and travelled throughout Ontario sketching landscapes. Algonquin Park, Algoma and the Muskoka region were favourite locations and inspired the vast majority of the artist's brushes. Sadly in 1917, Thomson died in a mysterious accident doing one of the things that he loved best: canoeing in Algonquin Park.

The White Pine - A.J. Casson
While this loss, along with the disruption from World War I, temporarily prevented the group from moving forward, the artists were not deterred. They reunited after the war and by 1920 officially labelled themselves as the "Group of Seven" and launched their first public exhibition. With the unwavering support from the National Gallery, these fresh new artists challenged the art scene of the day, introducing hitherto unfashionable landscape scenes. It was also at this time that Frank Johnston left the group, to be replaced by A.J. Casson.

Northern Tundra - Franklin Carmichael
Over the next decade, the Group of Seven gained in strength and breadth. They expanded their inspiration area, moving into landscapes across Canada from British Columbia to Quebec, Nova Scotia and even the Arctic. Their influence permeated the Canadian art scene and drew attention from other artists such as Emily Carr, Edwin Holgate and LeMoine Fitzgerald. By 1932, the members felt that it was no longer necessary to continue as a group and formerly disbanded. A new group, called the Canadian Group of Painters, was formed encompassing a wider range of artists, but still maintained the Group of Seven's original appeal and skill.

The Red Maple - A.Y. Jackson
Over the 13 years that the Group of Seven existed, this collection of intrepid artists challenged a fledgling art scene of a new nation. Where landscapes had previously been disparaged by Canadians, these forward thinking painters rebelled against the conservative art scene that previously had its focus on imitating other art styles. They took the Canadian landscape and pushed it into a revered spot, where nature was the ultimate canvas. Their influence to the Canadian art scene was so complete, that today they are considered the pinnacle of the Canadian image and examples of their paintings can be found in almost every art gallery across the country.

A September Gale Georgian Bay - Arthur Lismur
This coming weekend, Budding Artists will be taking an indepth look at the style and colours that helped to define these landscape artists as distinctly Canadian. Join us Saturday January 28th at 10am or 1pm for 90 minutes of art history, games, and fun at the Western Fair Farmer's Market, as we focus on the distinctly Canadian style from our Master Artists of the week: the Group of Seven.

Call today to book your child's spot!

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