Canadian Painting in the Thirties

The 1975 exhibition: Media Index

La peinture des années trente au Québec / Painting in Quebec in the Thirties
The Journal of Canadian Art History (Vol. 3, Nos. 1 & 2)
21 Sep 1976

Article which pays tribute to Charles C. Hill and his work. François-M. Gagnon writes about painting in Quebec and the rest of Canada, based on the catalogue and exhibition Canadian Painting in the Thirties, organized by the National Gallery of Canada. Charles C. Hill?s characterization of Canadian painting in the 1930s as a movement between polarities helps define the contribution of Quebec, which also felt this movement between regionalism and internationalism. The author contrasts the nationalist vision of the Anglophone Group of Seven with the rise of Quebec regionalism. Quebec painters, such as Marc-Aurèle Fortin and Clarence Gagnon emphasized cultural traits, which were bound up with the Catholic faith and French language. Charles Maillard, head of the École des beaux-arts in Montreal, rejected (French) international art in favor of a Canadian nationalist art. Hill also parallels the interest in social realism between Canadian and American painters. The Depression affected both Anglophone and Francophone artists and many, including Jock MacDonald, turned to teaching; while the economic crisis created isolation for Quebec artists, such as Borduas and Leduc, it forced English?speaking artists to group together. Pellan, Borduas and Lyman were influenced by the School of Paris. Internationalism was establishing itself as a second polarization for Canadian painting. In Quebec, it challenged their well-established values and corresponded to the rise of a new cultural ideology. Whereas Lyman?s concerns were essentially stylistic, Borduas? art focused on that of (Quebec) society in general. Gagnon concludes that there is a specifically Quebecois character to painting in Quebec in the 1930s.


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.