A Tribute to Two Important Canadian Artists.
The McMichael Canadian Art Collection wishes to acknowledge with sadness the recent passing of two notable Canadian artists, Kananginak Pootoogook and Doris McCarthy. Works by these artists, from the gallery’s collection, was on display in a special memorial exhibit from December 8, 2010 to January 30, 2011.
Renowned artists Kenojuak Ashevak and Kananginak Pootoogook at the McMichael in October 2009, with a delegation of Inuit artists and collectors viewing the exhibition, Nunannguaq: In the Likeness of the Earth. Photo by Linda Morita.
Kananginak Pootoogook was one of Nunavut’s premier visual artists and an active and important figure in the creation of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative in Cape Dorset. He served as the West Baffin Co-operative’s first board president, and played a role in the agreement reached between the Co-operative and the McMichael to have the gallery act as custodian of the Cape Dorset Archival Collection and to present its significant works to our local, national and international visitors.
The innovative loan agreement, signed in 1991, entrusted the McMichael with the task of documenting this comprehensive collection of drawings and prints, and this work is still in progress. This unique partnership has created the opportunity for both increased accessibility to and preservation of Inuit art, which is a significant contribution to Canadian art and culture.
Kananginak Pootoogook was a guest of honour at the McMichael in March 1991, at the official ceremony announcing the loan of the Cape Dorset Archival Collection.
Kananginak Pootoogook arriving at the McMichael, October 2009. Photo by Linda Morita.
Doris McCarthy’s role in Canadian art has been a significant and lengthy one. As a student at the Ontario College of Art, she studied under Arthur Lismer and J.E.H. MacDonald, two members of the Group of Seven. Lismer recognized her talent and potential, and asked her to teach in his children’s art classes at the Art Gallery of Toronto (1930-1935). From 1932 to 1972, McCarthy taught in the Art Department at Toronto’s Central Technical School. During her forty years of teaching she instructed a number of students who were to make their mark in Canadian art, most notably Joyce Wieland.
In March 2000, Doris McCarthy enjoyed speaking to gallery visitors while at the McMichael as artist-in-residence. Photo by Linda Morita.
During these years of teaching McCarthy was also busy with her own work. She travelled extensively, often painting with fellow artists, exhibited regularly and was active in several professional societies. The paintings that McCarthy made during these years were firmly rooted in the Canadian landscape; and in her travels across the country she recorded many of the same scenes of mountains, countryside, seashore and woodlands that had attracted the members of the Group of Seven. After her retirement in 1972, McCarthy made her first trip to the Arctic; from that point, her Canadian landscapes included a number of Arctic scenes—works which some art critics consider to be her best. The McMichael’s one McCarthy work—an Arctic subject—is entitled Broughton Reflections.
The McMichael gallery organized, with a guest curator, a major retrospective exhibition in 1999. The exhibition and the accompanying publication were entitled, Celebrating Life: the Art of Doris McCarthy. McCarthy was also designated and will forever remain an Artist of Honour for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.
Doris McCarthy during her residency at the McMichael in March 2000. Photo by Linda Morita.