14 September, 2009

Group of seven

The Group of Seven (compliments wikipedia.org)

Hi all!! I did some reading on the group that so greatly influenced the growth and developement of art in Canada. As I spent time reading up on this aspect, I found it quite interesting.

The Group of Seven was formed in 1920 and consisted originally of seven self proclaimed modern artists of Toronto. They were Franklin CARMICHAEL,(Alfred Joseph) CASSON ,Tom THOMSON, Frank JOHNSTON, Arthur LISMER, J.E.H. MACDONALD and F.H. VARLEY. They initially met as employees of the design firm Grip Ltd in Toronto. In 1913, the group was joined by A. Y. (Alexander Young) JACKSON and Lawren HARRIS. They often met at the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto to discuss their opinions and share their art.
The group received monetary support from Harris (heir to the Massey-Harris farm machinery fortune) and Dr. James MacCallum. Harris and MacCallum together built the Studio Building in the Rosedale ravine to serve as a meeting and working place for the new Canadian art movement. MacCallum owned land on Georgian Bay and Thomson worked as a guide in nearby Algonquin Park, he and the other artists often travelled to these places for inspiration.
During World War I, The informal group was temporarily split up and during that time, Jackson and Varley became official war artists. A further blow to the group came in 1917 when Thomson died while canoeing in Algonquin Park.
After the war, the seven who formed the original group reunited and continued to travel throughout Ontario, especially the Muskoka and Algoma regions, sketching the landscape and developing techniques to represent it in art. In 1919 they began to call themselves the Group of Seven, and by 1920 they were ready for their first exhibition. Together, they altered the belief of many artists who believed that the Canadian landscape was either unpaintable or not worthy of being painted. Reviews for the 1920 exhibition were mixed, but as the decade progressed the Group came to be recognized as pioneers of a new, Canadian, school of art.
Frank Johnston left the group in 1921, and A. J. Casson seemed like an appropriate replacement. Franklin Carmichael had taken a liking to him and had encouraged Casson to sketch and paint for many years beforehand. A. J. Casson was invited to join in 1926, and he accepted.
The Group's champions during its early years included Barker Fairley, and the warden of Hart House at the University of Toronto, J. Burgon Bickersteth.
The members of the Group began to travel elsewhere in Canada for inspiration, including British Columbia, Quebec, Nova Scotia, and the Arctic. These painters were the first artists of European descent who depicted the Arctic. In 1926 A. J. Casson joined the group which soon numbered ten members with the additions of Edwin Holgate and LeMoine Fitzgerald.
The Group's influence was so widespread by the end of 1931 that they no longer found it necessary to continue as a group of painters. At their eighth exhibition in December of that year they announced that they had disbanded and that a new association of painters would be formed, known as the Canadian Group of Painters. The Canadian Group held its first exhibition in 1933.
The Group of Seven great interest in landscape painting but were not only landscape painters. However, they did refer to their early school as a landscape school.
The men took pride in their art and worked diligently. All of the group, except one of its members, were commercial artists, and art was their means of living. Their art was unique in that they did not place emphasis on trying to imitate natural effects. Rather, their art reflected their attitudes and feelings of the object being painted. The group members also practiced similar art methods such as their choices of colors.

The Group of Seven were originally seven artists who took a stand for art in Canada. Their stand, their story and their art have inspired many artists and continues to do so even today. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


  1. Excellent article! They are among my most favoured Canadian artists and their style has definitely influenced me. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Interesting timing. I just noticed an article about some of their rather curious sources of inspiration at a magazine called The Walrus.