Canadian Farmer Art

I got tickets to see a number of the Piccaso works.  His paintings are on loan to the Art Gallery of Ontario until the end of the week because their home in France is under construction.  Even though he is long from being my favourite artist, it was great to have the chance to see them while they are so close.  I got the strong impression that I would not have liked the man much even though there are a few of his paintings that I really like.  The one I liked best is Two Women Running on a Beach but the detail of this tiny painting (maybe 8×10?) is lost in all the e-pictures I found on line.  In the original you can feel the women’s exuberance!

I saw a lot of paintings today and I have to tell you quite honestly that the ones that I loved most are the ones by Lawren Harris.  I am biased of course!  I love his work and after walking through the busy and lovely Picasso display there was a double door that said push and when I did I saw The Group of Seven and Emily Carr before me!  I was so excited that I very nearly wept!  I had no idea that they had so many Harris pieces!

One of the most interesting facts about The Group of Seven which is ignored by galleries and the artsy people is that without Canadian farmers these works would not in all likelihood exist in the way that they do.  Lawren Harris who is one of the founding members of the group was the son of the very wealthy  Thomas Morgan Harris – the Harris’ of the Massey Harris industrialists.  The Harris family money came from building and selling tractors to farmers.

Lawren Harris (in my opinion) put his money to fantastic use with this group of artists.  He and his buddy Dr. James McCallum built the group space for them so that they could work (or live) in, and Harris even financed trips for them.  In both 1918 and 1919 he put some of that tractor money to good use and paid for the boxcar trips that took The Group to Algoma to paint!  Can you imagine The Group of Seven works without the Algoma works?  I can’t!  Thank you farmers and Harris too!   Another mitigating factor is that Harris himself never had to work (though he did have a job for about two years of his life).  This family fortune meant that he did not have to be concerned about the cost of canvas, paints, brushes, housing or any life stuff, and with the luxury of both time and money he created a magnificent body of work.

I wonder if all creative people had family fortunes which allowed them to do what they wished, what kind of world we would live in?

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Categories: Open your eyes, Tiny House Ontario, View | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Canadian Farmer Art

  1. Hazel

    Seeing the McMichael Art Collection in Kleinburg years ago was such a highlight! And then I saw an Emily Carr exhibition in the Vancouver Art Gallery a few years ago (where I sat and simply cried with joy)! She was influenced by Harris as her paintings evolved. In September I’m going to the Emily Carr House in Victoria, which is a National and Provincial Historic Site. I have all her books and will have chills seeing her house!

    Interestingly, Fraser Thomson, Tom Thomson’s brother, married my father-in-law’s cousin. Fraser gave my in-laws a painting at their wedding in 1949, and eventually it will come to us and be cherished on our wall.

    • Hazel do you know that Emily’s works are now in Hamilton Ontario for the next while? I was in to visit them 2 weeks ago. I just finished reading all her writing works in February – I am a fan of her but unfortunately there were only 3 of hers at AGO.
      How great is it that your family has a Thompson! I hope you keep it well insured as I think that his are the most valuable pieces!
      My hairdresser who has a salon here in Hamilton, is a niece of Franz (Frank) Johnston and she certainly carries the creativity gene.
      We really do share a lot in common.
      xo L

      • Hazel

        Ah, the painting is Fraser Thomson’s, not Tom’s but still, it’s a connection. I think there were 5 painters in Tom’s family.

        I would love to see Emily’s paintings in Hamilton, but I’ve run out of summer! I have a few days next week at my daughter’s (to help her purge!) and then off to BC for most of September. I’m sure you enjoyed it.

        We sure do seem to have a lot in common, Laura! 😉

  2. I am missing Picasso this time, but will take the time to go see Frida later in the year. I remember my shock once, when visiting a friend in Toronto in the early 90s to see 6 original Harris ‘sketch’ size paintings in her dining room… she had inherited them, and they were stunning. Maybe hook up next time you are in Hamilton on a Lois-Day? The Cannon? 🙂 Enjoy! L

  3. It would have been lovely to have the money to pursue my creativity. I might have created something worthwhile. Maybe I will yet. Who knows?

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