Summary of The Group of Seven
The Group of Seven (sometimes referred to as the Algonquin School) was Canada's first internationally recognized art movement. The Group was united in the belief that a distinct Canadian art could be developed through direct contact with the country's vast and unique landscape. Though one can trace the influences of Impressionism, Post-Impressionism, Naturalism and Art Nouveau in their painting, stylistically the Group was rather loose-knit and was linked rather through a shared commitment to exploring the rugged Canadian wilderness and to establishing a credible national school.
Key Ideas & Accomplishments
- Farmers and industrialists, many of whom were recently arrived in the country, were intent on taming and/or beautifying the Canadian wilderness. The Group of Seven sought rather to preserve (through their art) their country's unspoiled terrain. They harnessed the new patriotic spirit amongst Canadians and in so doing vanquished the prevailing attitude that all things European were culturally superior to their North American imitators.
- In terms of a unified technique, the Group of Seven was a somewhat uneven mix. They shared, however, in the belief (learned from their Scandinavian counterparts) that the artist's personal feelings towards their natural surrounding should determine the style of the painting. The different approaches of each artist also mirrored the span and variety of the Canadian landscape.
- Arguably the most important member of the Group, Tom Thompson, died before the official naming of the Group of Seven. A man at one with his land, it was he, and his friend J. E. H. MacDonald, who did most to realize the dream of forming a national school of art that would celebrate, what was for Thompson, Canada's most spectacular and precious natural resource.
- The name "Group of Seven" was in fact something of a misnomer. During its lifespan, the Group exerted a great influence over other domestic artists and it would accommodate the work of a total of eleven Canadian artists. One might even add a twelfth name if one includes Emily Carr, one of Canada's most important modern artists. Carr attributed her artistic renaissance to her discovery of the Group of Seven. Indeed, her later career (forward of 1930) saw her specialize in Canadian native culture and the British Columbian rainforest.
Overview of The Group of Seven
"No man can roam or inhabit the Canadian North without it affecting him" declared artist and group leader Lawren Harris. "Because of his constant habit of awareness and his discipline in expression", he added, the Canadian artist was "more understanding of its moods and spirit than others are".