Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Closing of the North (Harris at AGO)

This is the last week to catch the Lawren Harris exhibit at the AGO.  It officially closes the 18th.  It could be crazy this weekend, or it may not be too bad, since everyone that wanted to see it has seen the exhibit.  In addition, there may be just a bit less pressure, since most of the paintings (in the core exhibit curated by Steve Martin and the additional early career paintings that the AGO added) are found in local museums -- mostly the AGO, but also the McMichael and the Art Gallery of Hamilton.

I don't think I will go back -- I've swung through 4 times or so, plus seeing the show in Boston! And while I do appreciate the austere nature of these paintings, I actually prefer the urban paintings he did earlier.

Anyway, I've already written a bit about the earlier paintings, so I thought I would close out by discussing which of the arctic paintings I liked the best.  I should begin with a bit of a mea culpa.  It turns out that Grounded Icebergs was added to the Steve Martin show.  I honestly can't tell if it wasn't there the first time around (and they added it after a bit of pressure) or (much more likely) I didn't recognize it in the new context (sometimes changing the wall color behind a painting can make a big difference).  Well, I'm glad more people got to see it and maybe they'll rotate it in with the Canadian paintings on the 2nd floor (the ones that are not part of the Thomson Collection).

I thought these three in particular stood out -- one from each of the nearby galleries.

Lawren Harris, Icebergs, Davis Straight, 1930 (@ McMichael)

Lawren Harris, Lake Superior, ca. 1923 (@ AGO)
Lawren Harris, Ice House, Coldwell, Lake Superior, 1923 (@ Art Gallery of Hamilton)

Perhaps it is fitting that for another two weeks, there are a handful of Harris paintings from the Vancouver Art Gallery (which I've probably seen at one point or other) at the Art Gallery of Hamilton as part of the Embracing Canada exhibit.  Ideally I would go out there, but the timing just isn't great, especially as I am watching the kids while my wife is volunteering at TIFF.  I don't think I can make it work for a variety of reasons.

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