Group Of Seven Essay

1188 words - 5 pages

Canada’s national culture has been shaped by prose, poetry and painting in varying degrees since the country’s early days. The artistic movement in Canada has transitioned significantly throughout the course of the nation’s development, from an agricultural society to the urbanized one known today. Early periods view art much differently than those who followed, like the Group of Seven. A notably nationalist art movement suggests that their art represented a dramatic departure from earlier styles of painting in Canada. This paper will argue that the Group of Seven did in fact play a major role in its transition, in addition to ‘Great White Hope’, the myth of the North, which catered to the idealistic notion of the North’s influence in art. The work of Homer Watson, After the Rain, and Arthur Lismer’s, A September Gale, will also be used to help note the changing style and dynamic of Canadian art.
Artistic ideals in Canada are often difficult to combine into one concise understanding given their changing nature. The colonial era as well as the late nineteenth century was significantly shaped by Pastoralism, a style that often depicted paintings of the countryside (Davis 36). The Homer Watson painting, After the Rain in 1883 is a pastoral style that depicts “nature reach[ing] its highest stage of picturesque beauty [that only occurs] when forests [have] been cleared, meadows or fields created or cultivated and farms established” (36). After the Rain shows a farmer’s field, where the land has been cleared of trees following what looks to be a major storm (38). Watson represents early Canada by placing emphasis on a secure, eerily comfortable, agrarian based society in a photographic-like piece of work. Homer Watson believed in his work and its presence within the larger scale of Canadian art. He helped to create the Canadian Art Club (CAC) and spent his time bringing art to the forefront of Canadian public life until the 1920s when a notable artistic shift look place. The emergence of the Group of Seven aimed to move past what they believed to be a Euro-based style of art and redefine what was understood to be ‘Canadian’. In response, Watson continued to support his artistic style, one that “was Canadian because it was based on Canadian scenes” (37) despite its stylistic origin. Although his presence as a leading Canadian artist is often unacknowledged by present day Canadians, his influence among art historians is remembered as a notable symbol of Canadian art prior to the shift of the early twentieth century.
The Group of Seven strived to present art that was much different from that of Homer Watson, challenging both the intellectual and stylistic achievements in Canada prior to the 1920s. Despite varying styles amongst the groups’ members, they represented a relatively cohesive view of ‘Canadian’ art. Once again they incorporated landscapes, but with the intent to express a distinctive idea of the Nation. Linking culture, identity and...

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