September 27, 2010 Kleinburg, ON —Three exhibitions officially open on Sunday, October 3, 2010 at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection: Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven; Forging The Path: The Forerunners (1870 – 1920); and Bruno Bobak: Love, Life and Death. From defying convention in landscape art to exposing a naked life, the art on exhibit provides great insight into how European styles influenced the evolution of new art in Canada.

Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven

Covering the walls of four galleries, Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven is organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and guest-curated by internationally renowned, Governor General’s Award-winning author Ross King. A Canadian citizen living near Oxford, England, King has probed the characters, personalities, and times of the Group of Seven to tell a compelling, new story of these enormously influential artists and dynamic period in Canadian history. Ross King’s just-released book of same title is co-published by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection and Douglas & McIntyre (D&M Publishers Inc.).

Like many of their contemporaries in Europe and America, the Group of Seven developed a rich palette of styles. They fused their knowledge of Art Nouveau, Fauvism and Divisionism with the distinctive features of Canada’s northern landscape, creating both a vivid new language and a unique aesthetic response to the land.

The diverse and experimental styles of artists such as Vincent van Gogh, Paul Gauguin and Henri Matisse were considered audacious and shocking to many critics and much of the public. The outcries over exhibitions in London in 1910 and New York in 1913 would be repeated in Canada when Tom Thomson and the future members of the Group of Seven began showing their work in Toronto.

Accompanying Defiant Spirits is the exhibition, Forging The Path: The Forerunners (1870 – 1920), curated by Katerina Atanassova, McMichael’s Chief Curator. It is a vivid journey through five decades of fine art created in Canada and Europe at a time when the French Impressionists had established themselves as a tour de force in Paris. From early canvases by Paul Cézanne and Alfred Sisley to selected works by Canadian pioneering painters who trained or travelled through Europe at the time, the exhibition demonstrates how artistic practices in Canada evolved at a different pace. Among the forerunners of the famed Group of Seven are James W. Morrice, Maurice Cullen, M.A. de Foy Suzor-Coté, William Brymner, Paul Peel, W. Blair Bruce, W.H. Clapp, Clarence A. Gagnon, Helen McNicoll, Franklin Brownell, Laura Muntz Lyall, Emily Coonan, Arthur D. Rozaire, and others.

Bruno Bobak: Love, Life and Death

The Expressionist work of Bruno Bobak offers visual insight into new art movements that inspire his art, particularly the influence of French Fauvism and German Expressionism. Bobak’s colourful palette, sweeping brushstrokes, and fluidity of lines express universal themes of pathos, loss, isolation, temporality, tragedy, death and hope.

Bruno Bobak: Love, Life and Death, developed by McMichael’s Assistant Curator, Collections, Sharona Adamowicz-Clements, highlights the figurative works (including a selection of portraits) that the East Coast-based artist produced between the early 1960s and 1980.

While Bobak’s body of work is diverse with subject matter that encompasses war art, still lifes and landscapes, his greatest preoccupation has been the depiction of the human body and soul. Bobak’s figures, which are largely modelled by the artist and his wife Molly Lamb, are marked by the experiences of a life lived: portraits and nudes that cover an array of topics such as family dynamics, aging, the life cycle, relationships and sexuality.

The exhibition offers a large selection of paintings and some works on paper from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery and other public and private collections, including a graphic work by Austrian artist Egon Schiele whose own figurative paintings (among those of Edvard Munch, Oskar Kokoschka and Gustav Klimt) had a significant impact on the development of Bobak’s art.

The three exhibitions run during the fall and winter:

Defiant Spirits: The Modernist Revolution of the Group of Seven

October 2, 2010 to January 30, 2011

Forging The Path: The Forerunners (1870 – 1920)

October 2, 2010 to January 23, 2011

Bruno Bobak: Love, Life and Death

September 18 to December 5, 2010


For further information or to receive images, contact:

Michelle Kortinen, Communications Coordinator

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2210