Canadian Artists on the World Stage

In the past, I’ve written a lot about the Group of Seven, and other Canadian artists. Today, I’m going to write about the two artists with the most success on the world stage.


ABOVE: James Wilson Morrice, La vielle maison Holton à Montréal, between 1908 and 1909, oil on canvas, 23.8 x 28.8 inches

BELOW: Jean-Paul Riopelle, Homage to Grey Owl, 1970, oil on canvas, 117.9 x 157.5 inches

James Wilson Morrice

James Wilson Morrice was born in Montreal on August 10, 1865. After studying law in Toronto, he moved to England to study painting, then to Paris where he stayed until the First World War – during this time, he spent many of his winters back home in Canada. He fled Europe when war broke out, and eventually settled in Tunis. He died there (from alcoholism) at the age of 58.

Influenced first by Whistler, and then by Van Gogh, he is most known for Canadian Winter scenes, done in an impressionist style. Although not as well known in Canada as members of the Group of Seven, James Wilson Morrice, was the first Canadian artist to achieve international acclaim.

Jean-Paul Riopelle

Jean-Paul Riopelle, was born in Montreal on October 7, 1923. After completing his studies in Quebec, he moved to Paris in 1947, where he met, and entered into a relationship with fellow artist Joan Mitchell. The two influenced each other greatly, but after twenty years, they decided to call it quits. After many years abroad, Riopelle eventually returned to Canada, and passed away in Quebec at the age of 78.

While his earlier work could be surrealist, he is best known for his abstract expressionist pieces. Jean-Paul Riopelle is arguably the most successful Canadian artist of the 20th century, and to this day the most successful internationally.


Autumn at the McMichael Art Collection

I recently took advantage of a free pass and visited the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. I’m glad I did. Its current exhibitions are excellent.


ABOVE: Simon Daniel James, Frog with Frog Headdress, 2000, alder, cedar bark, abalone, horse hair, acrylic, paint, 22.6 x 16 x 7.3 inches, Gift from the Cameron/Bredt Collection, McMichael Canadian Art Collection

If you’ve got a car, or know someone who does, you should jump in it and head down to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Klienburg, Ontario. While the museum’s permanent collection is itself a must see, its current exhibitions are exceptional:

Transforming Spirit / September 19, 2015 to February 15, 2016

The collection of Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt contains 28 artists from Canada’s Northwest Coast. As is the case with most Aboriginal art, the works in this exhibition are intricate, bold, and above all else, spiritual. This show alone is worth the trip.

This House was Made For Christmas / October 3, 2015 to January 31, 2016

A collection of Christmas greeting cards designed by some of Canada’s greatest artists, this exhibition includes works by members of the Group of Seven and the Painters Eleven. It may be a bit early for holiday cheer, but fortunately, this show extends through the Christmas season.

For Every Season: A re-installation of the permanent collection in 4 galleries / October, 2015 to January, 2016

As the title of the show suggests, this isn’t so much a new exhibition as it is a re-shuffling of the deck. Heavy on the works of the Group of Seven, each gallery in this show represents a different season. While many of the collections best works are on display, the McMichael’s most famous piece, AJ Casson’s The White Pine is nowhere to be found. They haven’t shown it in years. I wonder why.

A Few of My Favorite Canadian Artworks

Last week, I added several pins to my ‘Canadian Artists’ board on Pinterest. I was amazed by all the great artworks I saw – the following are some of my favorites.


ABOVE: Lawren Harris, Decorative Landscape, 1917, oil on canvas, 48.2 x 51.9 inches, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

ABOVE: David Blackwood, The Great Peace of Brian and Martin Winson, 1985, etching, 32 x 30 inches, private collection

ABOVE: Mary Pratt, Smears of Jam, Lights of Jelly, 2007, oil on canvas, 16 x 20 inches, Equinox Gallery, Vancouver


ABOVE: Edward Burtynsky, Nickel Tailings #34, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada, 1996, dye coupler print (Ektacolor), 40.2 x 61.2 inches, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

ABOVE: David Altmejd, The Eye, 2008, wood, mirror, 129.5 x 216.5 x 144.5 inches, Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

Norval Morrisseau – 2014 Retrospective

If you are in Toronto, and even remotely interested in Canadian art, you need to visit the Kinsman Robinson Gallery. Their current show is a must see.


ABOVE: Norval Morrisseau, Shaman Preaching To All Things (4-panel), 1992, acrylic on canvas, 72 x 96 inches, Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto

BELOW LEFT: Norval Morrisseau, Two Shamans Blessing The Creation Of Life Forms To Benefit The First Nations Peoples, 1994, acrylic on canvas, 54 x 48 inches, Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto

BELOW RIGHT: Norval Morrisseau, Astral Thunderbird, 1978, acrylic on canvas, 70 x 39.6 inches, Kinsman Robinson Galleries, Toronto

First, a bio:

Norval Morrisseau, (March 14, 1932 – December 4, 2007), also known as Copper Thunderbird, was an Aboriginal Canadian artist. Known as the “Picasso of the North”, Morrisseau created works depicting the legends of his people, the cultural and political tensions between native Canadian and European traditions, his existential struggles, and his deep spirituality and mysticism. Wikipedia

And now, a tiny review:

I am a huge Norval Morrisseau fan and I have viewed his work in the McMichael, the AGO, and the National Gallery of Canada. That said, of all the spaces I have viewed his work, the Kinsman Robinson Gallery is by far my favorite.

Why is this gallery such a great fit for Morrisseau? Because seeing one of your favorite painters in a small gallery is akin to seeing one of your favorite bands in a small venue – it’s more intimate, and less crowded.

Physical spaces aside, the art in this show is of exceptional quality. Morrisseau exhibited here when he was alive, and the gallery has been holding a retrospective of his work every other year since his death. They clearly have access to some of his most superb works.

I really can’t say enough good things about this little show; it’s easily one of the years best.

Norval Morrisseau – 2014 Retrospective runs until December 20 at the Kinsman Robinson Gallery.

Meet Me at the McMichael

From Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, to Mary Pratt and the Painters Eleven, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a who’s who of Canadian Art.


ABOVE: Lawren Harris, Ellesmere Island, 1930, oil on wood panel, 12 x 15 inches, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg

BELOW: The gravestone of Lawren Harris and his wife Bess in the McMichael Cemetary

If you grew up in or around Toronto, chances are you went on a school field trip to the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario. I recently (re)visited for the first time since childhood.

Established in 1969, the McMichael has an extensive collection that includes some of Canada’s most renowned artists. Whether you’re a fan of Emily Carr or Norval Morrisseau, all the stars are here, and then some.

As outstanding as the art is, so too is the building it is housed, and the grounds on which it is set. You really couldn’t ask for a better spot – it is distinctly Canadian.

Six members of the Group of Seven are buried at the McMichael, among them, my favorites A.J. Casson and Lawren Harris. Visiting their graves was a unique and humbling experience I will not soon forget.

Although the collections most iconic piece – Casson’s White Pine – was inexplicably absent, there wasn’t much else to complain about. Save for the weather, the whole experience was near perfect.

If you’re a fan of Canadian art, or looking to learn more about it, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is a must-visit.

This coming fall, I will be exhibiting my work in the 24th Annual Autumn Art Sale at the McMichael. The exhibition runs from Friday, October 24 to Sunday, October 26, 2014. 

O Canada

Canada Rocks! Through the years, we’ve produced some incredible artists. The following Canadian’s currently sit atop the art world.


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ABOVE: David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008, sculpture

From Lawren Harris to Norval Morrisseau, many a brilliant artist has come from the Great White North.

While the narrative of Canadian art continues to be written, the following Canucks are currently tops in the art world:

David Altmejd

One of my favorite artists. Period. Altmejd is a Montreal-born, New York-based sculptor whose intricate works are both beautiful and grotesque.

Terence Koh

A graduate of the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design in Vanvouver, Koh does just everything, from prints and photographs, to installations and performances. He even has his own Youtube channel.

Kim Dorland

Born in Alberta, Dorland currently lives and paints in Toronto. Although his landscapes and portraits are often compared to works by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven, a much better comparable is Peter Doig.

Sherry Boyle

A graduate of OCAD University – before it was a University – Boyle is an interdisciplinary artist whose body of work includes porcelain sculptures and large-scale installations.