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Fairley, Barker
Barn and Cedars Barn and Cedars
1975 1975

A graduate of the University of Leeds (England) and University of Jena (Germany), Barker Fairley immigrated to Canada in 1910, first teaching at the University of Alberta and then, from 1915 until retirement in 1957, at the University of Toronto, where he was Professor of German Literature. In Toronto, he was active in the burgeoning arts scene. Good friends with several members of the Group of Seven, Fairley is the only non-Group member in their most famous photo at the Arts and Letters Club. In 1920, he co-founded the left-leaning Canadian Forum, “a monthly journal of opinion”; and wrote numerous articles and reviews about the arts. By the late 1930s and 1940s, he would recognize the landscape movement in Canada as “understandable enough,” but urged artists to “paint humanity.”

Fairley began painting himself in the 1930s, when his friend the poet and painter Robert Finch invited him on a sketching outing. Thereafter, and particularly following his retirement, Fairley honed a lean painting style in both his landscapes and portraits. Light Yellows and Barn and Cedars, both 1975, are minimalist studies in tone, reminiscent of Milton Avery but also idiosyncratic. The oil paint is so thinned it becomes appealingly granular. As art critic Gary Michael Dault wrote, in a catalogue for a 1980 exhibition of the artist’s work at the Agnes, “Barker Fairley’s paintings are “moments of emotional and intellectual clarity.”

 
Fairley, Barker
Barnsley, England 1887-Toronto ON 1986 Barnsley, England 1887-Toronto ON 1986
Barn and Cedars Barn and Cedars
1975 1975
Oil on Masonite Oil on Masonite
27.9 x 34.2 cm
Gift of Peter and Arlene Glynn in memory of John Richard Lewis Glynn and Jessie Mackenzie Glynn, 2018 Gift of Peter and Arlene Glynn in memory of John Richard Lewis Glynn and Jessie Mackenzie Glynn, 2018
61-004

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