Canadian Painting in the Thirties

The 1975 exhibition: Other Venues

Peinture canadienne des années trente
Ateliers (MAC)
01 Jan 1976

Charles Hill defines Canadian art in the 1930s as a ?movement between polarities?: between nationalism and internationalism, the Group of Seven and the Contemporary Arts Society, Toronto and Montreal. The nationalists, represented by the Group of Seven with Jackson as spokesperson, revitalized Canadian art through a genuine expression of its landscapes. Lawren Harris freed himself from this vision by making the painter?s approach universal. The influence of the Group of Seven extended to quite formalistic painters such as Paraskeva Clark. Internationalism, however, developed with young artists looking for new sources of inspiration. Many Canadian artists were interested in American schools. Miller Brittain was influenced by the Fourteenth Street School in New York; Charles Comfort by Charles Sheeler; André Biéler by the socio-realistic art of the WPA; and Carl Schaefer by Charles Burchfield. David Milne lived in the United States for 25 years. In Montréal, there were several figurative artists, such as Edwin Holgate, Lilias Newton and Prudence Heward. Jean Paul Lemieux brought a social focus to popular art. Montréal artists had fewer exhibition possibilities than their Toronto counterparts. The two major exhibitions were the Art Association of Montréal?s spring exhibition and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts? biennial, neither of which would accept works by young artists. The Contemporary Arts Society and the Eastern Group were created to bring more opportunities to new generations. Private galleries also played an important role, in particular W. Scott & Sons and Henry Morgan & Company. Exhibitions of the works of the Group of Seven, David Milne, John Lyman, Fritz Brandtner, and others were organized there. The T. Eaton Company also organized annual exhibitions of the works of Canadian artists. The article is illustrated with Marc-Aurèle Fortin?s Paysage à Hochelaga and Emily Carr?s Scorned as Timber, Beloved of the Sky.


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.