Ahoy, ahoy!  I know I have been rather absent in my posts, but don’t worry!  This week you’ll be getting THREE posts coming at you instead of two, because I have to do catch up from class last Tuesday, which was rather centred around more social art and artists of the Depression era in Canada.

The Eastern Group of Painters was formed in 1938 as a response to the Group of Seven.  This newly formed group was much more modernistic, and focused on the concept of art for art’s sake, and appreciating the aesthetic value of what art had to offer.  This is not to say that all of the artists associated with the Eastern Group were abstract artists.  Indeed, Jori Smith, one of the more prominent, female members of this group, found that abstraction didn’t fulfill her and she was much more inspired by nature, but simply in a different way than the Group of Seven’s works.

The Eastern Group of Painters took Canadian art in a new direction, moving it away from the traditional holds of landscapes and bringing it into the modern art world.  In Europe, exciting new works were being executed by artists such as Dali’s The Persistence of Memory and Picasso’s Guernica.  These works were taking the European art world by storm, drawing many critiques, and subsequently, interest from viewers.  It is only natural that a similar movement would take hold in North America, though the art canon of Canada was, at this time, seen as much smaller than that of Europe.  The other point of interest about the Eastern Group of Painters is that many of them were from Quebec, and felt as though their voices were being marginalized by the Ontario Group.  This opposition may have been what drove many of them to create such radically different works from the Group of Seven’s and to look for inspiration in different forms of art.

Pegi Nicol MacLeod’s Descent of Lilies is an abstract, dreamlike work from this group of painters.  It embodies the concept of abstraction that was one of the principles upheld by the group:

A Descent of Lilies

This new Group opened the doors for artists who were inspired by ideas other than nature, and was also empowering to women artists, who were often seen as left out by the Group of Seven.  As the world moved forward into the Depression and War eras, it is only natural that art would begin to change as well.  Canadian identity was shifting and becoming more prominent.  Merely establishing ourselves as a land of scenic views and nature was not enough.  Second generation Canadian artists were taking inspiration from society, not nature.  Nature was not new, it was what they had always known, and thus, society was the new frontier when it came to topics that would be depicted in paintings.

That’s all for today!  I went to New York City last weekend and I’ll share a bit about the MoMA, Guggenheim and Met in my next post!  Sorry for falling a bit behind!

Brit

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