February 3, 2017, Kleinburg, ONFrom February 4 to September 4, 2017, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is proud to present Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries – a groundbreaking exhibition focused on the captivating abstract works of the leading Group of Seven member and artist of Mountain Forms, the painting that recently shattered records in Canada after being sold at auction for $11.2 million.

Joining in on the excitement of the show and in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday this year, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, will visit the gallery this Friday, February 3, for a tour of the exhibition – the first of its kind in over three decades.

Comprised of approximately seventy artworks, Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries focuses on Harris’s evolution from landscape painting to abstraction while living in the US between 1934 and 1940, and his abstract paintings made while living in Vancouver, up to about 1945. Higher States marks the first time Lawren Harris’s abstract works have been shown alongside paintings by his American contemporaries, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Marsden Hartley, Arthur Dove, Raymond Jonson, Emil Bisttram, and Katherine Dreier. “In this exhibition, we see how Harris’s work fits comfortably in the context of North American abstraction of the 1930s,” explained Gwendolyn Owens, co-curator of the exhibition.

As one of Canada’s most important painters, Harris’s move to abstraction during the second half of his career underscores the artist’s aim to go higher. The name of the exhibition refers to Harris’s commitment to the “spiritual in art” after he moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, and then to Santa Fe, New Mexico, where he began to fully engage with abstraction. The results were nothing short of spectacular. “If Harris’s landscapes from the 1920s are shrouded in silence and solemnity, in the 1930s, when he turns to abstraction, his spirits also brighten: colours flash, shapes rebound, and things can get joyfully noisy,” said Dr. Roald Nasgaard, co-curator of the show.

The opening date of Higher States kicks off a variety of exciting shows and programs scheduled at the McMichael this year to support Canadian art and celebrate Canada 150 – the country’s sesquicentennial anniversary. “The Higher States exhibition captures the spirit of what we plan to do more of here at the McMichael: that is, to show the other side of our most beloved artists; to reveal the largely untold stories; and to celebrate progress and innovation in the arts,” said Dr. Sarah Stanners, Chief Curator at the McMichael. “If you think you know Lawren Harris, we think you should look again.”

The McMichael has received generous support from Leading Sponsor, Assante Wealth Management; Exhibition Sponsors, FORD, and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection Volunteer Committee; as well as financial assistance from the Government of Canada and the Ontario Cultural Attractions Fund.

“The McMichael is close to the heart of many of us at Assante. As Canada celebrates 150 years of Confederation, we are proud to be partnering with the McMichael to showcase Canada’s rich history through art,” said Steven Donald, President, Assante Wealth Management. “We are honoured to be a part of this year’s celebrations, beginning with a magnificent representation of one of Canada’s most iconic artists with the Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries exhibit.”

High-resolution images of the artworks in this exhibition, plus vintage photos of the debonair painter himself, are available to the media upon request by contacting:

Simona Panetta at [email protected], or by calling 905.893.1121, ext. 2210.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,000 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information: mcmichael.com.