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Archive: December, 2006

Carr Exhibition Sheds New Light on Influential Canadian Art Icon

December 28th, 2006

Emily Carr,
Indian Church,
1929, oil on canvas.
Bequest of Charles S. Band, Toronto, 1970.
© 2006 Art Gallery of Ontario

Opening March 3 and continuing to May 20, 2007, Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon takes a fresh, new look at the artist the Group of Seven called the ‘Mother of Modern Arts’ with an exhibition featuring almost 200 works spanning her entire career.

In addition to exploring Carr’s work as an artist and author, this exhibition considers her as a modernist, a cultural tourist of First Nations communities and an observer of an increasingly industrial landscape. Containing multiple perspectives, the exhibition includes a partial reconstruction of the 1927 Exhibition of Canadian West Coast Art Native and Modern, the landmark exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada that introduced Carr’s work to the larger Canadian art world. This exhibition was rich in historical First Nations art as well as the work of other artists who painted British Columbia First Nations subject matter. In 1928, this exhibition travelled to the then Art Gallery of Toronto, now the AGO. As well, Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon includes an exploration of Carr’s journals, caricatures and self-portraits.

"This exhibition will be the most complete examination of Carr’s work the AGO has ever displayed," says Gerald McMaster, curator of Canadian art at the AGO. "It will examine her work from a number of fresh, contemporary viewpoints and give visitors a new look at one of the most compelling figures in the history of Canadian art."

Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1871, Carr took much of her inspiration from the British Columbia coastal region and is best known for her works of First Nations villages and communities. One of Canada’s most eccentric artistic personalities, she travelled through British Columbia to document First Nations culture in the early part of the 20th century. After a 14-year hiatus, in 1928 she returned to painting her beloved British Columbia landscapes until she suffered a heart attack in 1937, when she began to focus more on writing and received the Governor General’s Award for literature in 1941. Carr continued to write and paint until her death in 1945.

In conjunction with Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian
Icon
, the AGO is also presenting a small photographic series
by Toronto-based photographer Arthur Renwick. Renwick’s images of
First Nations British Columbia churches provide a contemporary lens through
which to consider Carr’s well-known painting Indian Church,
1929 from the permanent collection of the AGO. These photographs will evoke
new perspectives on the landscapes and culture that were Carr’s major
inspiration.