Canadian Painting in the Thirties

The 1975 exhibition: Ottawa Exhibition

Thirties Art: Style without Emotion
The Globe and Mail
01 Feb 1975

Permission from the Globe and Mail

An article by Kay Kritzwiser about the two exhibitions on view at the National Gallery of Canada: The Changing Image: Prints by Francisco Goya; and Canadian Painting in the Thirties. The Goya exhibition includes 400 prints from the early 18th century, documenting the horror of Napoleon?s invasion of Spain. The Canadian painting exhibition, opened by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau, includes works by 36 artists. They vary from Group of Seven landscapes, to nudes, Montreal figurative work and regionalist landscapes, the latter influenced by American artists painting under the WPA program. Few of the paintings reflect the hardships of life in the Depression. Rather, says curator Charles Hill, who organized the exhibition and wrote the catalogue, they reflect a movement from the nationalism of the Toronto-based Group of Seven to the internationalism of the Montreal-based Contemporary Arts Society. The article addresses the question of political activity among the artists, the lack of government support, and the expense of art materials. David Milne is quoted on the subject of artists during economic depressions. The author discusses Louis Muhlstock?s Open Door of Third House, Carl Schaefer?s Storm Over the Fields, Frederick Varley?s Open Window, Paraskeva Clark?s Petroushka, Marian Scott?s Escalator, Jori Smith?s Mlle Rose, Charles Comfort?s Young Canadian, André Biéler?s Gatineau Madonna, and Miller Brittain?s Longshoremen. She refers to John Lyman, Yvonne McKague Housser, Anne Savage, Sarah Robertson, Lilias Torrance Newton, Prudence Heward, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Emily Carr, Alexandre Bercovitch and Fritz Brandtner, as well as Dr. Norman Bethune. Canadian Painting in the Thirties will travel to the Vancouver Art Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, Glenbow-Alberta Institute, Calgary, Edmonton Art Gallery, Saskatoon Gallery and Conservatory Corporation (Mendel Art Gallery), and Musée d?art contemporain de Montréal. Prints by Francisco Goya, organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, is on view only in Ottawa; both a catalogue written by Eleanor Sayre, and a small journal by National Gallery of Canada Director Jean Sutherland Boggs, are available at the bookstore. The article is illustrated with a black and white reproduction of Marian Scott?s Escalator.


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.