In this essay the author argues that the Group of Seven were firmly linked to the tradition of European modernism. The Group were dedicated to creating a new, autonomous Canadian aesthetic and were not supportive of the conservative tendencies of the artistic modes of the past.
The advent of modernism in Canadian art was loudly trumpeted both nationally and internationally in 1924, when Canada sent an exhibition to the British Empire Exhibition held in Wembley, England. As happens so often, this change in direction did not occur without a lot of noise. In the controversy that surrounded the selection of the Canadian section, battle lines were drawn between those promoting conservative tendencies, that is the artists housed in the Royal Canadian Academy, and those championing modern causes, painters supported by the National Gallery of Canada. The core and strength of this latter group, the modems, was the Group of Seven.
That the modems won this battle was beyond doubt. Even before the show left for England, Sir Edmund Walker, chairman of the National Gallery's governing council, noted in his diary: "I feel sure that whether our modernists are liked or not, the existence of a form of plastic art which is distinctly Canadian must be admitted. Apparently every effort of the few who control the Royal Canadian Academy has failed."' Walker need not have been apprehensive about the show's reception. The critic for the London Times spoke approvingly of "emphatic design and bold brush work," of painters "strongly racy of the soil."2 He was in good company. C. Lewis Hind, in the Daily Chronicle went as far as to label it "the most vital group of paintings produced since the war - indeed this century."3 And the Tate Gallery gave an even more meaningful endorsement by purchasing Jackson's Ships Entering Halifax Harbour. Back home Hector Charlesworth, editor of Saturday Night and imitator of Edward VI, delighted in inventing new opprobrium to keep the controversy over style in the public eye.4 Suggesting that the British critics had been duped into singing the praises of these "freak pictures,"5 he railed against "the blood and thunder school. . . a group of Toronto painters who hold that Canada is only truly interpreted through a single narrow and rigid formula of ugliness."6 Canadian public reaction to the Group had never been as negative as one might suppose from public rhetoric. But the battle had been won. The strength of Charlesworth's invective simply underlined the magnitude of the modernists' triumph.
What was it about Canadian modernism that so enraged Charlesworth? How did it relate to modernism in Europe? These questions are complicated by the multitude of positions encompassed within modernism. The term in the visual arts, usually refers to the period starting in 1860, initiated by Manet, and ending with the post-war or late-modernism period running into the 1960s. The modernist avant-gardes shared a sceptical loss of confidence in the artistic modes of the past and in shared social practices. As Christopher Butler explains in Early Modernism, "Nietzsche, Ibsen, William James, and others contested the totalizing religious and political frameworks of the nineteenth century, in favour of a growing pragmatism .... "7 Many agreed with Nietzsche that the need was for "an absolute scepticism towards all inherited concepts."8 Early modernist practitioners withdrew from social consensus, from the assumptions of the past in two ways. First they developed notions of stylistic autonomy, so that their work would seem to depend upon aesthetic conventions that were independent of public norms. Second they relied on the idea that art had to be subjective and intuitive. Kandinsky, for example, echoes Yeates in proclaiming that "When religion, science and morality are shaken, the two last by the strong hand of Nietzsche, and when the outer supports threaten to fall, man turns his gaze from externals in on to himself."9 Canadian modernism, as exemplified by the Group of Seven, was part of this broad definition.
Until now Canadian analysts of the Group of Seven have chosen a selective, segmented approach in examining the Group's modernism. While generally labelling the Group modern, many insist that it had no links with European modernism, claiming that the Group's version was entirely home-grown and therefore axiomatically different. Fred Housser is a strong example. A contemporary and close friend of the Group who wrote the influential and revealing book, A Canadian Art Movement, Housser proclaimed that "For Canada to find a true.. . expression of herself through art, a complete break with European traditions was necessary." Later, lauding the Group's successes, he concluded that the Group "is distinctly a Canadian phenomenon, drawing its inspiration from the backwoods." In such comments there is a confusion between technique and ideology, which the painters themselves promoted. Having little interest in theories and formalist concerns, they were inclined to subsume their European technical and ideological borrowings under a nationalistic umbrella. Having strong ideological interests, moreover, they presented their nationalism as a unique artistic phenomenon. No less a renowned Canadian art historian than J. Russell Harper was hoodwinked by the Group's jingoistic stance." More recent analysts, however, especially Roald Nasgaard in The Mystic North and Dennis Reid in Atma Buddhi Manas, have exposed the fallacy of indigenous technique.'7 What the present paper attempts, in turn, is to expose the fallacy of indigenous ideology. From a post-modem perspective, we can see the extent to which the Group of Seven was truly a part of the broad, international modern thrust.
The Group of Seven indubitably shared Nietzsche's scepticism towards historical social consensus. As Habermas details, in revolting against the normalizing function of tradition, the new ideal called for a "radicalised consciousness ... freed ... from all specific historical ties."'3 Vociferous in its denunciation of historical ties, the Group exhibited a markedly negative attitude towards much of earlier Canadian art. One of the artists' most common themes was a questioning of "foreign-begotten technique" which, as Harris complained repeatedly, had for such a "long time dominated cultural endeavour in Canada."'" The Group were not alone in their repudiation of cultural colonialism. In 1922, for instance, a writer in the Canadian Forum reproached Canadians for "an insipid level of academic art, most of it the reflex of European teaching and outlook and dominated by it."'5 The Group were, however, among the most outspoken critics. Though particularly annoyed by the Canadian penchant for collecting Dutch and Barbizon works of a pictorial realistic style, the painters did not restrict their opposition to continental European schools, reacting as well against continued British influence in Canada.'6 Rejecting the whole idea of historical ties, they were equally critical of earlier painting and contemporary taste.
This rejection of historically accepted European aesthetic borrowings promoted the concept of stylistic autonomy. An important initial canvas was Tom Thomson's first large work, his 1913 A Northern Lake. This work is pivotal in its composition. Here Thomson stripped away European sophistication and atmosphere in favour of a very simple, straightforward composition. He built parallel lines of foreground rock, middle ground lake and distant hills and background sky. The work is held together by vertical trees defining the left and right edges. Free brush work and thickly applied paint also separate this piece from contemporary examples. It set a new pattern compositionally - that Group members subsequently frequently used; however, thematically and colouristically A Northern Lake is anomalous to modernism in that this canvas is unashamedly realistic. One reviewer praised it for "its remarkable fidelity to the northern shore."7
Soon such non-modern vestiges as theme and colour were also challenged by the Group. A few months after Thomson produced A Northern Lake, A.Y Jackson started working on Terre Sauvage. Here Jackson broke Thomson's ties to verisimilitude. Exhibiting little mimesis, Jackson's canvas was nicknamed Mount Ararat by J.E.H. MacDonald because he felt "it looked like the first land that appeared after the Flood subsided."18 Startling juxtapositions of complementary colours, such as the red maple adjacent to the green pine against a royal blue sky, helped to establish what Dennis Reid called "the basically aggressive nature of the newly-conceived group" of painters.19
Aggressive in its scepticism of historical institutions, the Group, like Scriabin and Kandinsky, looked for a solution to the loss of Christian faith by turning to the internal world of spiritualism.20 The first step was an individual quasi-theological explanation in which intuition was favoured over reason. Lawren Harris, in his article "Theosophy and Art," explained that there is "a divine being within each of us . . . to be disclosed over the ages by self-devised creative effort and experience."z' For Harris this urge "lies deeper than intellect or reason; it is an inner unfolding."22 Other Group members, especially Lismer and Varley, agreed. Bolstered by their particular blend of trans-Christian mysticism, the seven artists proclaimed a special unifying role for art. They felt that artists had a clearer vision and a greater understanding of spiritual reality than ordinary people. In 1924 Arthur Lismer explored this concept:
An artist ... has the "victorious attitude to life" - a courageous conviction that life unfolds through his own participation in the tempo & colour of his racial & environmental experiences. His belief in the power of each successive act of contemplation, or of dynamic expression to bring conviction that beyond all outward appearances & surface happenings there is an inner core of design & mystic sources of strength & beauty - is the compelling force of his curiosity, & of his disbelief in the mere acts of verisimilitude. The Artist today has a powerful message of order & divination of this inner world, this hidden & golden thread or order, the search for which is the real meaning of life.23
Lawren Harris, the Group painter who probed most deeply into these mystical connections, explained that "the creative individual in the arts ... knows ... that beauty at work in the soul .. . is . .. an immense power, a power that will ultimately stir the entire man into life." "The Theosophist and the creative artist," he continued, "stand here on a somewhat common ground, sharing a similar high vision, involved in the same struggle.... They both approach the unity of life ... through whatever vicissitudes towards ultimate truth and beauty."2' Artists, then, were able to "see" aspects overlooked by others.
But the Group went further than mere perception, changing the emphasis subtly to identify an important role for art in spiritual development itself. Art did not simply expose the spirit; it also transformed and elevated it. In "Theosophy and Art" Harris proclaimed that "Art ... is a high training of the soul, essential to the soul's growth, to its unfoldment." 25 "Art is necessary to the spiritual life," echoed Lismer, for "Art is a reflection of God's purpose."26 Even Fred Varley, while hardly an habitual essayist like Harris and Lismer, felt compelled to commit to paper his sense of the importance of art in liberating and releasing the spirit. "I tell my students," he wrote in a letter to his sisters, that "the workshop is as sacred as a church."
Their paper is no longer paper, but space, & they have the power to call out of space, moving forms that lose & find themselves, exciting the imagination of the onlooker and leading him inevitably to that unknown motif which is the spiritual longing awakened in him through analysis & contemplation. You see no work of art exists without the fusion of mind with medium. Medium itself must have its spirit released through the artist's conquest over it, before it can speak freely, & then you know no work of art is complete. The artist's job is to break fetters & release spirit, to tear to pieces & recreate so forcefully that, as I stated, the imagination of the onlooker is awakened and completes within himself the work of art.27
It is clear, then, that the Group as a whole saw art as "an ordering of the material in harmony with the spirit," "an intensification of life."zs Considering the implicit call to action in their formulations, it is also clear that for the Group, as for Kandinsky and some of his European contemporaries, art had very definite moral powers.29 This in turn brings us back to the very core of modernist ideology. As Hilton Kramer, Habermas and others assert, one of the identifying characteristics of modernism was its claim to exert a moral as well as an aesthetic authority."
In Canada this Group assertion of moral authority, this spiritualism, was not only resented but also misunderstood. The search for power at the root of the Wembley controversy was based on the Group's conviction that it was right both aesthetically and morally. The opposition in this controversy was equally adamant on both counts. The misunderstanding of spiritualism was just as endemic.
Spiritualism, as a rejection of traditional Christian theology and dogma, was regarded with considerable suspicion. One example was the Lambeth Conference, called in 1921 just outside London, Ontario, to consider the detrimental effects of spiritualism, Christian Science and theosophy in relation to Christianity.31 The Group's desire to unify and involve through spiritualism, ironically, had the opposite effect. Spiritualism misunderstood closed entre into the paintings, especially those of Lawren Harris. The result has been that the Group's pre-modern realistic imaging, linked to geographic nationalism, overshadowed their moral purposes so that this central spiritual core was ignored or denied. Yet this spiritualism was the basis for their concept of advancement.
Individual Group members certainly contributed to this resentment and misunderstanding of spiritualism for the Group was not initially of one mind on spiritualism. The value and importance attached to both its ideological substance and its pictorial representation varied greatly among the Group. Jackson was simply uninterested; Macdonald, more thoughtful, was distrustful though he was considerably taken by American transcendentalism. Only Harris, Lismer and Varley were committed adherents. Harris, the most vocal and articulate, in the 1920s was hampered by his intellectual approach, while Varley benefited from his emotionalintuitive sensibilities. In the end Harris's spiritual, theosophical position on moral authority predominated because it supported and furthered the Group's desire for special and artistic advancement.
The demand for improvement or innovation or advancement was characteristic of avant-gardes when they perceived their culture to be in crisis. If they felt they had seen the way to advance, individual artists had to be committed to some form of critical position of the kind Ibsen and Nietzsche inspired. The result may be critical alienation, such as Eliot's, or prophetic utopia, such as Kandinsky's. Both positions have in common the modernist faith that art can significantly change the consciousness of both creator and viewer in ways which are antagonistic to the status quo.32
For the Group prophetic utopia was clearly their chosen path. And their utopia was situated in the Canadian northern wilderness. Jackson spoke in 1927 of "a country to the north of us which is unique and distinctly Canadian."33 Soon the Group's painting country, the symbol of Canada, became simply "the North." So convincing was their rendition of this mythic territory that in the eyes of their countrymen the symbol and the reality became inexorably intertwined. Post modernist Rosalind Krauss has talked about the art work "that stands behind landscape authenticating its claim to represent nature."" Here was a case in point. Tom Thomson in particular, as Lismer recounts, provided such "a stirring record of the season's changes in the North" that soon "the Northland began to look like ... [his] paintings."35 This optimistic land-based nationalism, wedded to the spiritual grand recit, provided the Group with this philosophical basis. "Our art is founded on a long and growing love and understanding of the North," summarized Lawren Harris in Bertram Brooker's 1929 Yearbook of the Arts in Canada: "in an everclearer experience with the informing spirit of the whole land and a strange brooding sense of Mother Nature fostering a new race and a new age."36 The Group was not unique in turning to the land, of course. Many other contemporary Canadians, such as Archibald Lampman, Ralph Conner, Gilbert Parker and Robert Service, frustrated by the same elements, found solutions in the same location.37 The Group of Seven, however, has to be seen as the most persuasive preacher of the common sermon.
The Group's vision, as befits early modernism, was an idealistic one. As Habermas notes, modern art started by advancing a promise of happiness in its relationship to the totality of life. Schiller, for example, spoke of a utopia reaching beyond art itself, while Baudelaire repeated this promesse de bonheur in art. We have here, then, an attempt, especially prevalent among early modernists, to "level art and life, fiction and praxis, appearance and reality into one plane."33 The Group shared this dream. Buttressed by the optimism inherent in theosophy and transcendentalism, the Group linked their search for Canadian nationhood to artistic activity in a way that suggested the latter promoted the former. "The artist is making us nationally conscious with our environment, setting a stage for true nationality," Lismer explained. Then, emphasising his egalitarian approach, he continued "Art is a fundamental activity - age-long, world wide."39 In 1919 Jackson was even more explicit. "The fine arts are not a side issue," he explained, "and time will prove them one of the most potent factors in overcoming the problems of social unrest. When the game of making private fortunes is limited the arts will remain the greatest field for development and stimulation, and provide the common meeting ground for all classes."4 That the Group were convinced that art could succeed is without doubt. Each painter felt a part of the "discovery and progress, of vast horizons and beckoning future" that they announced in their 1922 exhibition catalogue." Convinced that they could help create a new Canadian order, the Group sought an appropriate methodology. Soon they discovered the value of crisis.
"At its most vital," Fredric Jameson says, "the experience of modernism was not one of a single historical movement or process, but a `shock of discovery,' a commitment and an adherence to its individual forms through a series of `religious conversions."'42 Such a "shock" certainly characterized the way the Group isolated the traits of their nationalism. Most frequently it was a trip abroad, some foreign experience, that precipitated an awareness of Canada's special qualities. Jackson, for instance, began to "see" his own country after he had been in Europe for several years43: the result, in 1910, was his canvas The Edge of the Maple Wood. Arthur Lismer, alternately, was convinced that he was more attuned than some of his friends to the "genuine Canadian thing," the "nationalism in the air," precisely because he was not Canadian-born." To Varley, who also spent most of his early life in England, "the country was a revelation."45 Obviously, then, it was distance - geographic and psychologic - which provided the key to recognition. Harris, after four years of study in Germany, according to his wife returned to Canada utterly changed:
This was a new life literally. He saw the landscape with fresh eyes and new insight. He tells me that the impact of returning to Canada was terrific. He had been immersed for 4 years in the old world. He spoke, thought and even dreamed in German.... But here he was transferred, transported too into a whole new experience. He became aware of the extravagant buoyancy and energy of this continent. The quality and clarity of the light excited him.' The Group, then, not only experienced a "shock of discovery" but, in line with Jameson's formulation, conceptualized the experience in specifically religious terms.
To ensure that their viewers also experienced this "shock" the Group actually tried to provoke crises through the painters' work, crises of which the Wembley controversy was simply the most public and visible. To clarify their own position, to make it convincing to others, they felt that they had to exaggerate the backwardness of Canadian art as they found it, and to aggrandize their own progressiveness. Through an aggressive use of overstatement, they catalyzed reaction and encouraged opposition to their point of view. Discovering that opposition was a useful political tool, they sought more and more controversy, condemnation, conflict. In doing so they demonstrated a sure, intuitive grasp of propagandist principles. Far from damaging, their battles only increased the public's interest in art in general and their art in particular.
In more detached moments the Group admitted its use of controversy as propaganda. Indeed, for all its public stance of wounded innocence, the record makes clear that they understood its potential power from the beginning. "The Canadian painter has been bucking public opinion for a long time," confided Jackson to a correspondent in 1930. "Early success would have killed the whole [Group of Seven] movement."47 Harris agreed. "We became not only used to ... excited opposition to the paintings," he said, "but encouraged it. We goaded the reactionary and cocksure writers of the press of that day to give full rein to their breezy diatribes."49 In later years he was even more explicit in detailing particular strategems. "Sometimes we would reply to the tirades in the press in order to keep the excitement going. We would also advise our favourite critic whom we would occasionally meet at the arts and letters club [sic], of better, more violent ways of condemning our work. It was all grist to creative mill."5 In "using" crisis in this way the Group were thoroughly modern.
The Wembley controversy highlights yet another way the Group's international modernist ideology was translated into practice. Theoretically these artists were interested in creating a new order, one having important social ramifications.
In practice they promoted their social concerns institutionally. Not convinced that sufficient and clear change could be effected through their primary mode of communication, painting, they expanded their power base into the galleries. Soon the Group was influencing Canadian artistic institutions in general and the National Gallery of Canada in particular. The rapport began early. After corresponding with both Jackson and Harris, in 1914 Sir Edmund Walker, chairman of the Advisory Arts Council, came in person to hear their criticisms and comments.5' From then on the Algonquin artists and the National Gallery were, in some respects, allies.
The gallery quickly demonstrated its support by the most effective method at its disposal - purchases. In this way the officials could not only publicly acknowledge the value of the oeuvre, but help alleviate the artists' relatively impecunious state.52 It was perhaps as a result of Jackson's correspondence that the gallery took steps to acquire his Sand Dunes at Cucq from the autumn Canadian National Exhibition of 1913 (an action which, giving a foretaste of problems to come, caused some indignation among other artists).53 But the gallery staff very quickly formed their own opinion of the artist's paintings. As early as 1914, in a letter to Lawren Harris, Brown noted that the trustees considered "Mr. Jackson's work ... [to be] among the most promising work done by contemporary artists" and were "much gratified to learn .. . that their opinion is fully endorsed by his brother artists [in the Hot Mush School]."' From then on National Gallery patronage of the Group of Seven became an established fact. It bought a Lismer and a Thomson from the spring Ontario Society of Artists' exhibit, a MacDonald from the September CNE, and a Harris and a Jackson, the famous Red Maple, from the November Royal Canadian Academy show.55 Nor was this support temporary; it continued throughout the Group's existence.56
Reciprocity was slower in coming. Artists, axiomatically, prefer independence to institutional ties. After the gallery successfully defended the moderns over the Wembley selection, however, the Group had little option but to acknowledge the bond - especially since they now wanted to hang their work abroad and needed a strong ally to ensure that they would be given suitable space in London and Paris. This subtle change of relationship can be seen through many small incidents. Sir Edmund Walker's death in 1924 immediately brought the Group closer to National Gallery staff Eric Brown and Harry McCurry, who were anxious lest the Royal Canadian Academicians manage to insert someone of their persuasion into the powerful position Walker had vacated.57 Soon the Group were advising the gallery on a variety of matters including the wooing of Canadians interested in art to their views. Harris, for instance, drew attention the case of "Dr Insulin Banting" who "paints a bit and is considerably interested in pictures. It would be a great pity if he went the way of most incipient connoisseurs and became prey to dealers."Ss This incident was not an isolated one. Increasingly throughout the late 1920s and early 1930s Group members offered opinions on issues ranging from the William van Home art collection to the sending of Canadian exhibits abroad.59 It is interesting that the Group wanted van Horne's European collection to stay in Canada. In return, the gallery rewarded the Group by continuing to purchase works, by organizing other sales, by sponsoring educational lectures and by using its influence for such ends as getting Jackson and Harris berths on the Canadian Arctic Patrol.
The culmination of this partnership was, of course, the continuing Wembley dispute. From 1924 to 1934 (when the tiff was finally put aside), the Group became more and more vocal in their public support of the gallery. When the controversy peaked in 1932 with a petition demanding the resignation of then-Gallery Director Brown, Lismer published a forceful article in support, and Jackson resigned from the RCA. Thus the ties between the Group and the National Gallery gradually became indubitable. Linked by common interests as much as common visions, each contributed in a major way to the establishment of the other. Though hardly surprising, it is notable, moreover, that the mutual success soon prompted other galleries, including the Art Gallery of Toronto and Hart House, to develop similar ties for themselves.61 By means of such snowballing endorsements, the Group, just as much as the Gallery, became, quite literally, a national institution.
This brings us back to the problematic implied in the title. If the alliance with official gatekeepers would seem on the face of it to undercut the Group's self-consciously anti-establishment stance, from a slightly different perspective it can read as yet another instantiation of their modernity. This linking of the Group with public galleries is surely a variation on that institutionalization of art implied by Foucault's "episteme"; "the new and substantial relationship of painting to itself'; "the particular reality and interdependence that paintings acquire in museums."" In underlining such connections Foucault is suggesting that, unlike earlier art, modern painting acquired its "meaning" specifically within the confines of the museum. In Canada, unlike Europe, however, the legitimating historical museum simply did not exist. So the Group had to create it for themselves. Partly this was achieved through self-validation. Partly too, however, it involved the validation of alternatives. Having no strong National Gallery, no appropriate repository of historical works against which to define themselves, the Group was forced to invent its own informing context, its own museum. Hence its proprietary attitude towards the infant National Gallery. Hence too - and more importantly - its "discovery" of Algonquin Park. Profitting from Tom Thomson's tutelage, they came to see this trademark terrain, and by extension the whole Canadian wilderness, not simply as a signifier for Canada but, like Foucault's "museum," as repository for the norms and values that give art its social meaning.
One still has to question how scepticism, a withdrawal from social consensus, translates into social acceptance, especially in the canonic atmosphere of the National Gallery. It was in content rather than in form, then, that the Seven saw the possibility of progress, the potential for the creation of a national spirit. In formulating such a distinction they tackled the dilemma Paul Ricoeur discusses in History and Truth: how can a nation "become modern and ... return to sources" at the same time; how can it jettison part or all of its cultural past to take part in universal scientific, technical and political rationality, while, at the same time, rooting itself in the soil of its past to forge a sense of identify.63 In Canada this transition to modernism using the past was greatly helped by the amount of avant-garde support for a northern utopia. Acceptance of the Group was also greatly helped because these painters did not go to conceptual extremes. Jackson's Terre Sauvage was his most radical piece; Lismer's A September Gale of 1921 and Varley's Stormy Weather, Georgian Bay of the year before, are composed with recognizable forms, realistic colouring and textured surfaces, those traditional clues for reading a painting.
Modernist art is the site of a struggle for matching technique to idea which includes the relationship of the work to political and religious ideologies. This is obvious in the case of Kandinsky, Joyce and the Futurists. An examination of the critical beliefs about social values held by various modernists reveals two camps: those conservatives, like Pound, Woolf and Joyce, who are mindful of the continuity of culture, and those iconoclasts, the Futurists and Surrealists, who attempted to destroy the past.'
The Group of Seven were clearly conservative modernists sceptical of the artistic modes of the past, dedicated to creating a new, autonomous Canadian aesthetic. While trumpeting stylistic autonomy, in their painting the Group generally retained enough recognizable forms and colours to allow the viewer a representational reading. At the same time their ideology was thoroughly subjective and intuitive, based on mystical principles. These traits firmly link the Group of Seven to European modernism.
1. Maud Brown, Breaking Barriers (Toronto: The Society for Art Publications, 1964) 70
4. As noted below, the idea that the Group of Seven had to battle against a legion of reactionary critics is a myth they themselves perpetuated. In fact on only two occasions prior to the Wembley controversy were they actually attacked in the press. The first attack occurred in 1913 when F.H. Gadsby, in the Toronto Star of 12 December 1913, pinned the title of "Hot Mush School" on the embryonic Algonquin group (6). The second incident occurred when Hector Charlesworth, in Saturday Night, singled out MacDonald's work for its "crudity of colour," describing The Elements as "Hungarina Goulash" and Rock and Maple as "Drunkard's stomach," (XXIV.23 [18 March, 1916]: 5) Despite these two incidents, critics, including Charlesworth, had had relatively little to say against the future Group of Seven members. For a perceptive acknowledgement of Charlesworth's posturing, see Paul H. Watson, "Beauty My Mistress: Hector Charlesworth as Art Critic," Journal of Canadian Art History XV. 1 (1992): 84-106. 5. "Freak Pictures at Wembley," Saturday Night XXXIX.43 (13 September 1924): 1. 6. "Canada and her Paint Slingers," Saturday Night XXXIX.51 (8 November 1924): 1. 7. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994) 1-2.
8. Ibid. 2.
9. Ibid. 3.
10. F.B. Houser, A Canadian Art Movement: The Story of the Group of Seven (Toronto: Macmillan, 1926) 17, 24.
11. J. Russell Harper. Painting in Canada: A History (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1977) 263
12. Roald Nasgaard, The Mystic North: Symbolist Landscape Painting in Northern Europe and North America 1890-1940 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984; exhibition catalogue); Dennis Reid, Atma Buddhi Manas: The Later Work of Lawren Harris (Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1985; exhibition catalogue).
13. Jurgen Habermas, "Modernity - An Incomplete Project," The Anti-Aesthetic: Essays on Postmodern
Culture, ed. Hal Foster (Port Townsend: Bay Press, 1983) 4 14. L.S. Harris "The Group of Seven in Canadian History," The Canadian Historical Association: Report of the Annual Meeting (Toronto, 1948) 28-9; L.S. Harris, "The Story of the Group of Seven," Group of Seven (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1954; exhibition catalogue) ll; J.E.H. MacDonald,"A Whack at Dutch Art," The Rebel 2.6 (March 1918): 257; The Group of Seven (Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto,1920; exhibition catalogue); A.Y. Jackson, Empire Club Speech, 1925, 1-2.
15. PM. Turner, "Painting in Canada," The Canadian Forum I.27 (December 1922): 82, 84.
16. Jackson, Empire Club Speech, 2; RB. Housser, A Canadian Art Movement 23, 148; Harris, "The Group of Seven in Canadian History," 29.
17. Fergus Kyle, "The Ontario Society of Artists," Yearbook of the Arts in Canada (London and
Toronto: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1913) 186-7.
18. A.Y. Jackson, A Painter's Country (Toronto: Clark, Irwin & Co., 1967) 26. 19. Dennis Reid, The Group of Seven (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1970; exhibition catalogue) 47.
20. For a discussion of the Seven's spirituality see A. Davis, The Logic of Ecstasy (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992); also Nasgaard, 158-202. 21. The Canadian Theosophist XIV.6 (15 August 1933): 161. 22. Bess Harris and R.G.P. Colgrove, Lawren Harris (Toronto: Macmillan, 1969) 21. 23. Marjory Lismer Bridges Papers, Arthur Lismer notes for 1924 book. 24. '"Theosophy and Art," The Canadian Theosophist 14.5 (15 July 1933): 131-32. 25. Ibid. 130.
26. "Possession and Creation," The O CA. Students' Annual (Toronto: Ontario College of Art, 1927) 19. 27. Peter Varley Papers, F.H. Varley to Ethel and Lil, 9 February 1936. 28. Art Gallery of Ontario, J.E.H. MacDonald Papers, MacDonald notes for speech to OCA students, 14 November 1932,1.
29. The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Painting 1890-1985 (New York: Abberville Press, 1986; Los Angeles County Museum of Art exhibition catalogue).
30. Hilton Kramer, "Does Gerome Belong with Goya and Monet?' New York Times (13 April 1980);
sec. 2, p. 35. Of course others, such as Kant, also believed in the moral authority of art. 31. The Canadian Theosophist, IlT.2, 15 April 1922, reprint of letter to the editor of the London Free Press (15 October 1921): 19. 32. Butler 250.
33. A.Y Jackson, Regina Post (30 July 1927).
34. R. Krauss, "The Originality of the Avante-Garde: A Postmodern Repetition," October 18 (Fall
35. Arthur Lismer, "Tom Thomson (1877 - 1917) Canadian Painter," The Educational Record of the Province of Quebec 53.3 (July-September 1954): 175.
36. L.S. Harris, "Creative Art and Canada," The Yearbook of the Arts in Canada, ed. Bertram Brooker
(Toronto: Macmillan 1929) 185.
37. Carl Berger, `"The True North Strong and Free," Nationalism in Canada, ed. Peter Russell (Toronto:
McGraw Hill, 1966) 3-26. 38. Habermas 10.
39. A. Lismer, "Canadian Art," The Canadian Theosophist 5.12 (15 February 1925): 178. 40. A.Y Jackson, "The Vital Necessity of the Fine Arts," Canadian Courier 24.24 (30 August 1919): 7. 41. Group of Seven (Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 1922; exhibition catalogue). 42. Jameson, "`In the Destructive Element Immerse"' 113.
43. A.Y. Jackson, A Painter's Country, 14; Naomi Jackson Groves, A.Y 's Canada (Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1968) 94
44. John A.B. McLeish, September Gale (Toronto: Dent, 1955) 76. 45. National Gallery of Canada, Tom Thomson Papers, F.H. Varley to Dr. MacCallum, n.d., [October
1914?]; Peter Varley Papers, F.H. Varley to wife, 21 April 1918. 46. National Gallery of Canada Papers, Bess Harris to J.R. Harper, started 14 July 1962. 47. Archie Key Papers, A.Y. Jackson to Archie Key, 25 March 1929. 48. L.S. Harris, *Art in Canada: An Informal History," Radio Broadcast, CBC Wednesday Night, 21
June 1950, mimeographed transcript, 2.
50. L.S. Harris, `"The Group of Seven," talk delivered in the Vancouver Art Gallery, April 1954, mimeographed transcript, 10.
51. National Gallery of Canada, A.Y. Jackson Papers, A.Y. Jackson to Eric Brown, 12 March 1913; A.Y Jackson to Eric Brown, 4 April 1913; L.S. Harris letter to the editor, "The Federal Art Commission," The Globe 4 June 1914; A.Y Jackson, "Lawren Harris," Lawren S. Harris Paintings, 1910-1948 (Toronto: Art Gallery of Toronto, 194; exhibition catalogue); A.Y. Jackson, A Painter's Country 28.
52. Dennis Reid, The Group of Seven (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1970; exhibition catalogue) 69, fn. 13.
53. National Gallery of Canada, C.R. 01.01 Walker, Walker to Brown, 15 November 1913 and Brown
to Walker, 17 November 1913.
54. Walker Papers, copy, Brown to Harris, n.d., enclosed in Brown to Walker, 2 July 1914. 55. Reid, The Group of Seven 69, fn. 13. 56. Ibid. 67-68.
57. McCurry Papers, McCurry to Brown, 24 April 1924; National Gallery of Canada, Arthur Lismer Papers, Lismer to Brown, 29 June 1924.
58. National Gallery of Canada, Harris Papers, Harris to Brown, n.d. [1920s]. 59. National Gallery of Canada, Jackson Papers, Jackson to McCurry, 23 July [ 1930]; Lismer Papers,
Brown to Lismer, 18 July 1932.
60. National Gallery of Canada, Lismer Papers, Lismer to Brown, 29 November 1925; National Gallery of Canada, Harris Papers, McCurry to O.S. Finnie, Director, North West Territories and Yukon Branch 4 June 1930.
61. Martin Hunter "Decking the Halls: How the Group of Seven and Their Patrons Shaped the Art Collection at the University of Toronto's Hart House,"Canadian Art 4.3 (Fall 1987): 78-85; Catherine D. Siddall, The Prevailing Influence: Hart House and the Group of Seven, 1919-1953 (Oakville, Ont.,: Oakville Galleries, 1987; exhibition catalogue).
62. Michel Foucault, "Fantasia in the Library," Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, trans. Donald F Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977) 92-93.
63. Paul Ricoeur, "Universal Civilization and National Culture," History and Truth, trans. Chas. A. Kelbley (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965) 276-7. 64. Butler 277.
Ann Davis is the director of the Nickle Arts Museum in Calgary, Alberta and author of The Logic of Ecstasy (1992).…