Why I HATE the Group of Seven
The Art History Archive - Canadian Art

This Website is Best Viewed Using Firefox

Written by Suzanne MacNevin.

Left to Right: Varley, Carmichael, Jackson, Harris, Johnston, Lismer, and MacDonald.

The Group of Seven was a group of Toronto artists (Varley, Carmichael, Jackson, Harris, Johnston, Lismer, and MacDonald) who painted Canadian wilderness scenery during the early years of the 20th century.

Some people consider Tom Thomson to be the honourary 8th member (he disappeared mysteriously in Algonquin Park and his body was never found). Their first group show was in 1920. The group only became famous much later during World War 2 when their paintings were reproduced on postcards and sent to soldiers on the front.

Left: "Torso", 1937, Bertram Brooker.

Bla bla bla.

It's like a freaking history lesson.

A lot of their art is quite boring. Only two of them are any good.

And whats worse, if you ask a non-Canadian to name a Canadian artist, the usual response is Emily Carr (who also did landscapes) or the Group of Seven.

Or sometimes they name a landscape artist who is actually American or British, but is famous for doing Canadian landscapes. Usually someone who has been dead for over 50 years.

So, the question I am asking is:

"Can you name a FAMOUS Canadian artist who is alive and does NOT do landscapes???"

Ummm... Ahhh... Nope?

Call it a matter of national pride, but I would like to see more Canadians (and non-Canadians) to be able to name and recognize a famous Canadian artist who is ALIVE and does not do landscapes.

Right: "Reason Over Passion (Trudeau Slogan)", 1968, Joyce Wieland.

Now I am an art fan and I can name some famous dead Canadians who didn't do landscapes all the time: Bertram Brooker (nudes AND landscapes), Joyce Wieland (feminist paintings + Canadian symbols).

But as I pointed out already, these two are DEAD artists.

So who is alive?

Michael Snow (Joyce Wieland's former husband + the guy who did the Canadian geese in the Eaton's Centre... Wieland gave him the idea). Hmm. He's not that famous.

Now you're starting to get my point.

Canada is also well known for its Inuit and Native art. But can you name a famous Inuit or Native artist who is alive? No, I'll bet you can't. Its because people tend to ignore the names of inuit/native artists and just stick them in a "category" of nameless/unknown artists.

Left: "Mirror of my Soul", Daphne Odjig, date unknown.

Norval Morrisseau and Daphne Odjig.

Two Canadian Native artists. So there! :p

I'm not saying that there aren't any artists out there, but most people (the vast majority of them) wouldn't be able to name names.

And its a sad day for ALL Canadian artists when people can't even name who our "famous" artists are.

And yes, many people can say "the Group of Seven", but not many can actually remember all the names of the 7 people who were in the group. Indeed, some people would mistakenly think Tom Thomson was a member (he is remembered party only because of the mystery associated with his death).

But back to Canada's native artists, its also sad that they could easily be mistaken for as a Picasso (Picasso is often called 'the Great Copycat' because he copied other people's styles and never invented his own).

Right: "The Land (Landrights)", Norval Morrisseau, 1976.

When it comes to art, people tend to fuss too much about artists who have been dead for a long time. Which is doubly another reason why its so hard to name a "living" Canadian artist who (is famous and) does not do landscapes, because a large majority of the dead famous ones DID do landscapes.

And Native/Inuit artists tend to get ignored in the process.

So WHO is out there that is famous and alive (and doesn't do landscapes)???

The Answer: Floria Sigismondi (I keep forgetting her name, but not her art) and Jonathan Earl Bowser (even Saddam Hussein has seen his work).

Left: "Come Part Mental", Floria Sigismondi, 2001.

Floria Sigismondi usually does video work (of Marilyn Manson, Bjork and Christina Aguilera fame) but she is also an artist (a very spikey one).

And you've probably already seen Jonathan Earl Bowser's work. His work has been online for so long that Saddam Hussein stole an image off a website and used it as the cover photo for a book that Hussein published years ago (he never paid Bowser obviously!).

The problem is that most Canadian's don't know their names.

Well, now YOU do! Now go tell ten other people about this website!!! :p

This site is a member of WebRing.
To browse visit Here.
Click Here to Join some Webrings