Canadian Painting in the Thirties

The 1975 exhibition: Media Index

Painting in the '30s: A World Apart
10 Feb 1975

A review of the exhibition Canadian Painting in the Thirties at the National Gallery of Canada. Author Geoffrey James notes that the exhibition includes few images of the social realities of the Depression, with the exception of Miller Brittain?s Longshoremen. Artists of the time did express political opinions in The Canadian Forum, but in paintings were more preoccupied by the debate between The Group of Seven, with its devotion to Canadian landscape, and other artists interested in internationalist trends, such as John Lyman, founder of Montreal?s Contemporary Arts Society. However, Lyman?s work is quite stiff and formal. Paraskeva Clark was, in contrast, more truly internationalist, with her powerful Self-Portrait. In discussing how financial pressures of the 1930s affected artists, James quotes David Milne, and notes that the National Gallery?s budget dropped dramatically during this period. Charles Hill, curator of the exhibition, notes in the exhibition catalogue that Goodridge Roberts was particularly strapped for cash. David Milne, who spent 25 years in the U.S., was outstanding for his willingness to take risks, as evident in Raspberry Jam. Emily Carr?s Tree (c. 1931) shows her intense feelings for the British Columbia rainforests. LeMoine FitzGerald was influenced by American Precisionist Charles Sheeler, as reflected in Doc Snider?s House (1931). Jean Paul Lemieux and Paul-╔mile Borduas are among the few French Canadian artists represented, as the Automatistes did not emerge until the 1940s. The article is illustrated with colour reproductions of Brittain?s Longshoremen (1940), FitzGerald?s Doc Snyder?s House (1931), Clark?s Self-Portrait (1933), Carr?s Tree (c. 1931) and Milne?s Raspberry Jam (1936).


Images of the exhibition's installation, the opening ceremony and official visits.

Media Coverage

Almost 200 newspaper and magazine articles in English, French and other languages: reviews, details of the Canadian tour, lectures, films and special events.


Audio clip of curator Charles Hill interviewed by CBC's Carol Bishop. Includes Pierre Trudeau's opening speech.

NFB Film

Derek May's 1977 documentary Pictures From the 1930s looks at the exhibition in the context of the Depression, with newsreel footage of the day.