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12.9: Canadian Group of Seven (1920 – 1933)

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  • The Canadian Group of Seven was comprised of Canadian landscape painters who worked together from 1910 to 1933. The group shared an aspiration to create a distinctly Canadian art form, and with the expansive Canadian landscape at their disposal, they achieved their vision and started a significant art movement in Canada. The group resided near Algonquin Park, a location with unending inspiration and numerous possibilities to paint the four distinct seasons. The group continued to grow during the 1920s.

    Red Maple
    12.72 Red Maple

    The group disbanded during World War I, reuniting after the war. Although not thought of as a subject worthy of art, but the Group of Seven changed critics' ideas about Canadian art with their first exhibition in 1920. As the decade continued, this new landscape form became a significant art form. The group received some criticism since their paintings illustrated a pristine landscape devoid of people or buildings; they painted nature as it would have been before settlement by humans.

    Red Maple (12.72) by Alexander Young Jackson (1882-1974) in 1914, was painted from a sketch along the Oxtongue River in Algonquin Park. In the foreground, the last fall leaves clinging to the whispery branches set against the churning rapids on the river. Lake McArthur (12.73) by James MacDonald (1873-1932) illustrates a classic Canadian landscape exhibiting a glacier-fed moraine lake with its clear blue waters caused by the silt.

    13.86 Lake McArthur
    12.73 Lake McArthur

    April in Algonquin, (12.74) by Thomas Thomson (1877-1917) is a post-impressionism style of painting. The snowy landscape is familiar in April, yet the trees are painted with their beginning buds as the temperatures warm. Odds and Ends (12.75) by Emily Carr (1871-1945) is a group of trees blowing in the wind. The wind brings the tall, thin trees in the foreground alive with the swirling blue sky. Reminiscent of Post-impressionism, Carr captures movement in a moment in time.

    April in Algonquin
    12.74 April in Algonquin
    Odds and Ends
    12.75 Odds and Ends
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