This exhibition sheds new light on the artistic and social impact of the Canadian Group of Painters in the first and most dynamic decades of its existence, from 1933 to 1953. Canadian Group of Painters exhibitions travelled across Canada and into the United States, stirring excitement, reflection and debate on the state of Canadian art and society. The Canadian Group of Painters emerged from the Group of Seven, but it became much more. Its engagement with modern life during the turbulent times of the Depression, World War II and postwar reconstruction made it a vital force. As one critic raved in 1949: “Go up to the gallery … and have your eyes blasted.”
A Vital Force: The Canadian Group of Painters is the first major exhibition to focus exclusively on this important artistic group. Bringing together works from public and private collections across Canada (forty-eight paintings by forty-eight key members), this exhibition conveys the richness of the group’s practice: new visions of landscape, bold depictions of people and fresh experiments in abstraction. Represented are artists as diverse as André Biéler, Jack Bush, Emily Carr, Paraskeva Clark, Lawren S. Harris, E. J. Hughes, Jack Humphrey, Prudence Heward, A. Y. Jackson, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Jock Macdonald, David Milne, Lilias Torrance Newton, Goodridge Roberts, Carl Schaefer and Marian Dale Scott, among others.
This exhibition is organized and circulated by the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, in partnership with The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, and Queen’s University Archives, Kingston, and with the generous support of the Museums Assistance Program at Canadian Heritage, the Ontario Arts Council, the City of Kingston Arts Fund, and the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund and Janet Braide Memorial Fund, Queen’s University.