Nothing says Canadian art and Canadian landscapes to me like the Group of Seven. Their work and especially the work of Lawren Harris has been an inspiration since my art school days.
The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris comes to Toronto via the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles where it debuted last year and went on to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Its intent was to introduce the American audience to his work, as he, and the Group of Seven, are relatively unknown in the States. The show was co-curated by actor/writer/comedian/musician/art collector Steve Martin, Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, and Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum.
Over 70 works by Harris are featured in this expanded exhibit and are divided into three sections: The Ward – Harris’ early paintings of Toronto, The Idealized North – his northern landscapes and The New City which explores the legacy of his northern landscapes.
For the media preview, we were treated to a short conversation between Andrew Hunter and Steve Martin and got a glimpse into how the exhibit all came together. A long-time collector, Martin said he was flipping through an art catalogue and a Lawren Harris painting caught his eye and he’s been a fan ever since.
Seeing the collected work of Lawren Harris was awe-inspiring. The iconic paintings of The Idealized North made me want to take up oil painting and go on an adventure into the northern wilderness to paint landscapes en plein air.
The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris runs from July 1 to September 18 at the AGO.