Tag Archives: lawren harris

A New Favourite!

It was gone!  I was sad when I returned to my job at the Winnipeg Art Gallery after a holiday to find the most popular painting in our Group of Seven room was gone.

I loved Clouds by Lawren Harris. It is always a favorite with children on tours.  I usually ask kids to walk slowly around the Group of Seven exhibit room looking carefully at all the art pieces. Then I have them vote for their top two paintings.  Clouds was always a sure-fire winner. But now it was gone and had been replaced by Alfred Casson’s Morning Light. 

Morning Light- Mazinaw Lake 1968- Alfred Casson

Imagine my surprise when on my first Group of Seven tour after my holidays Morning Light was the hands down favorite of the kids just like Clouds had been. Some said Cassion’s painting seemed strangely familiar to them. It reminded one girl of a mountain she had seen on cruise in Costa Rica. Another told me there were rocks like the ones in Morning Light at her family cottage near Kenora. A boy said he’d seen cliff jumping on TV and he thought the cliffs in the painting would be fun to jump from. Another fellow pointed out the monster’s claw he could see in the cloud formation. Someone  thought the shadows on the lake and rocks looked a little scary. 
I still miss Lawren Harris’  Clouds but I’m not as sad anymore that it is gone.  Its absence and its replacement with the Casson painting means visitors at the gallery will be introduced to another great painting by a Group of Seven member; another great painting that stirs their imaginations and links them to personal memories.

Other posts……..

Love My Job

The Horizon Line

Autumn at the Art Gallery


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Filed under Art, winnipeg art gallery

Connections in the Globe and Mail

 Two articles in last Saturday’s Toronto Globe and Mail struck a chord with me. 

The first was about a new ballet that premieres today at the Art Gallery of Ontario called The Dreamers Ever Leave You.  The ballet choreographed by Robert Binet is inspired by the current Lawren Harris exhibit at the AGO called The Idea of  North orginally curated by American actor and comedian Steve Martin. Binet’s dancers will move between three different stages at the AGO and the audience will also have a chance to see the Harris paintings that inspired the ballet. 

We have quite a number of Lawren Harris paintings on display at the Winnipeg Art Gallery right now in our Group of Seven exhibit.  As I give kids tours of the gallery could I get them to come up with a dance to go along with one of our Harris paintings?

Another Saturday Globe and Mail article celebrated Sonja Bata who founded the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.  She and her husband Thomas were responsible for the success of the Bata Shoe empire which once owned some 1700 stores world wide. Sonja just celebrated her 90th birthday and her museum marked its 20th anniversary last year.  bata-shoe-museumI was drawn to the article about Sonja and her museum because Dave and I once had the pleasure of visiting the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto.  It was so surprisingly interesting! We discovered that shoes can be works of art too. 

Other posts…….

Almost Touching Justin Bieber’s Shoes

Two Very Different Members of the Group of Seven

A Good Understanding




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Filed under Art, Toronto, winnipeg art gallery

A Quick Dip Into the AGO

It looks like an overturned canoe! The Art Gallery of Ontario resembles a glass canoe that has been turned upside down. The facade of the building was designed by architect Frank Gehry and was completed in 2008. It has probably been nearly twenty years since we last visited the gallery. We managed to fit in about two and a half hours there Friday afternoon. It wasn’t nearly enough! 

We started with the Evan Penny exhibition. I had seen Penny’s work many years ago at the Mendel Art Gallery in Saskatoon. I remember being impressed with his life -like enormous faces that showed every blemish, age spot and hair in such realistic fashion.

I watched a video and read an illustrated story board that explained the multi-stage process Penny uses to create his work. He gets his ideas and images from live models, photographs and his imagination.

The next step is for Penny to make a clay model and then he uses rubber, resin, glass fibre and plaster to create a silicon covering which he moulds over the clay model. 

He removes the inner clay model and then paints the silicon figure. He sculpts and paints the eyes and ears and implants every hair one by one onto his figures. Implanting the hair alone can take hundreds of hours. He uses a mixture of yak hair, horse hair, human hair and mohair.

Libby Faux, the model for this image is a friend of Penny’s. Faux is French for forgery. Are all images of ourselves manipulated? Are they a kind of forgery or false view of who we really are? 

I was particularly intrigued with Penny’s No One In Particular series. These images have titles like Old, Young, Fat and Female and while he calls them No One In Particular they each look like someone in particular, someone special and distinct whom Penny has created in minute detail. Penny composed the images from multiple sources taking details from magazine and newspaper photos, his imagination and people he may have seen on the street. So while they look like unique individuals they don’t really exist.

It was hard to leave the Penny exhibition but our time was limited so I moved on to the floor that featured Canadian artists. What a glut of pieces here. At the Winnipeg Art Gallery where I work as a tour guide we have one Cornelius Krieghoff work on display. 

The Art Gallery of Ontario has four rooms filled with Krieghoff’s work. I didn’t count them but I’m sure there were over a hundred and fifty of his paintings on the walls.

We have a few Lawren Harris works on view at the Winnipeg Art Gallery but at the Art Gallery of Ontario all four walls of a huge rectangular room are covered with his paintings. 

I liked the room where they had placed a large collection of works by Canadian artists during the 1920’s. Some sections of the room were painted light gray and these walls displayed works by the famous Group of Seven. However there were also dark gray sections of wall and they displayed works by other artists painting at the same time who were inspired by the Group of Seven or who painted very differently from the Group of Seven.  Emily Carr for example couldn’t be admitted to the Group of Seven because she was a woman. 

One thing that is different at the Art Gallery of Ontario from the Winnipeg Art Gallery is that in many of the galleries at the AGO the paintings don’t have title cards or labels. There are guide books in these  rooms that have diagrams showing you the names and artists. However if other patrons are using these books you are left without any knowledge of what a painting is called or who painted it. Sometimes this is good because it allows you to use your imagination to guess what the painting might be titled and who the artist is; but overall I found it frustrating. 

We really just got a chance to dip briefly into the Art Gallery of Ontario. I’d like to go back to see the rest of the work and take some guided tours to learn more about the huge collection. 

You might want to check out………

Two Diverse Members of the Group of Seven

Big Mother- An Unusual Sculpture

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Filed under Art, Canada, Culture, Toronto

Two Diverse Members of the Group of Seven

One of the most popular school tours we give at the Winnipeg Art Gallery is about Canada’s famous Group of Seven painters.

These artists formed a cooperative group in the 1920s and 1930s. They wanted to paint the Canadian landscape in a unique way, in a style that would be very different from the way European artists painted landscapes. The group wasn’t made up of exactly seven people all the time.

Members came and went, and some who were never officially members, like female artist Emily Carr, did work compatible with the mission and style of the group.  

A September Gale by Arthur Lismer

This painting was done by Arthur Lismer, who was born in a British factory town to a family with a working class income. His family was very proud of him especially when he won a scholarship to an art high school. Lismer had to work very hard to keep up his grades while working at a part-time job to help pay his living expenses. After high school he won a scholarship to study art in Belgium. 

Agawa River by Lawren Harris at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

This painting was done by another member of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris. He was born in Ontario into a very wealthy family, who had amassed a fortune making and selling farm equipment. Lawren’s mother encouraged his creativity and sent him to an expensive boarding school where he didn’t study much because he preferred sports like swimming and tennis. When he graduated his family paid for him to study art in Berlin, Germany. 

Arthur Lismer came to Canada in 1911 because he couldn’t find a job in England and went to work for a design company in Toronto. He was an official war artist during World War I. He would have liked to paint more but had to squeeze in time to paint while working to support himself. A key member of the Group of Seven he is credited with coming up with their name.  He was passionate about art education and taught at art schools in Canada and abroad. He wrote books about teaching art to students and ran art education programs at several different Canadian art galleries. 

When Lawren Harris was tired of European living he came back to Canada in 1908.  He was only in the army for a short time in World War I and then had to leave for medical reasons. He is known as the leader and founder of The Group of Seven. He had lots of time to paint since he lived off his inheritance. Painting was a spiritual experience for him. He felt that through his art he became a better person.  

Lawren Harris and Arthur Lismer led very different lives and produced art work that is noticeably different; but they were both members of the Group of Seven and they both created unique Canadian landscapes that helped carve out a distinctive place in the international art world for  Canadian artists and art. 

 If you enjoyed this post you might also like………..

Landscapes for the End of Time

The Dark Side of William Kurelek

Norman Rockwell Exhibit- Winnipeg Art Gallery


Filed under Art, Canada, Education, History, Winnipeg