Canadian Painting in the Thirties

The 1975 exhibition: Lectures, Films and Special Events

Lecture Fails to Illuminate Show of Depression Art
Pacific Tribune
11 Apr 1975

A critique by Barry Kootchin of a lecture given at the Vancouver Art Gallery by Charles Hill, Assistant Curator of Post-Confederation Art at the National Gallery of Canada. Speaking about his exhibition Canadian Painting in the Thirties, Hill referred to Barry Lord?s book The History of Painting in Canada, Toward a People?s Art, in which Lord attaches a political meaning, rather than a spiritual one, to Emily Carr?s Blunden Harbour. Kootchin questions Hill?s contemporary interpretation and suggests his discussion was only cursory. Noting that Fred Varley and J.W.G. (Jock) MacDonald both struggled during the Depression, Kootchin suggests that the grey tone of many of the paintings might be significant. In contrast, he remarks, Miller Brittain?s Longshoremen is an exceptionally vibrant painting, and his sketches for a hospital mural are equally fine. Although Hill mentioned the participation of many 1930s? artists in the Committee to Aid Spanish Democracy and the Canadian League Against War and Fascism, he did not address these topics thoroughly enough, according to Kootchin.


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.