Artworks and Artists
Lawren S. Harris
Born in Brantford, Ontario, 23 October 1885
Died in Vancouver, British Columbia, 29 January 1970
Photography: M.O. Hammond Collection, National Gallery of Canada Archives

Lawren S. Harris

Lawren Stewart Harris was an artist concerned with the relationship between the physical formations of the land and its spiritual representation. He organized artists' groups and was the de facto leader of the Group of Seven, who gave new vision to representing the northern Canadian landscape. Harris attended the University of Toronto (1903), then spent three years studying in Berlin (1904-07). He became interested in theosophy, a mystical branch of religious philosophy that would inform his later painting.

Over the course of his career, Harris developed his artwork from representational landscapes, to stark images of the far north, to abstract paintings. He was convinced that art must express spiritual values as well as representing the visible world. To this end, he traveled to the north shore of Lake Superior in 1921 and made return visits there for the next seven years. He would continue in this pursuit in travels to the Rocky Mountains beginning in 1924, and through an expedition to the Arctic with A.Y Jackson in 1930.

From 1934 to 1937, Harris was at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, where he painted his first abstract works. In 1938 he moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico, and helped found the Transcendental Painting Group, an organization of artists who advocated a spiritual abstraction.