Sunday, September 13, 2009

Emily Carr's Reaction to Lawren Harris's Critiquing

Lawren Harris North Shore Lake Superior: L Harris

December 24. 1940
Lawren and Bess came in today. Lawren pulled out a lot of canvases but his crits were not illuminating, although they were full of admiration and appreciation. He seemed to pick on some small unimportant detail and never to discuss the subject from its basic angle. Trivialities. I observed that he turned back to former canvases often with epithets like "swell," "grand," "beautiful", and the latter canvases he was perhaps more silent over. I wonder if the work is weakening and petering out. Perhaps so, I feel that the angle is slightly different. Perhaps the former was more vigorous, more disciplined, but I think the latter is more thoughful. I know its less static. Perhaps the static was more in line with his present abstract viewpoint. He was enthusiastic enough and complimentary - but not enlightening. Praise half as warm many years ago would have made me take off into the sky with delight. Now I distrust criticism. It seems to be of so little worth. People that know little talk much. And folk that know, halt, wondering, self conscious about their words. Perhaps the best thing I got out of this visit was a calm looking with impartial eyes at what Lawren pulled out of my racks, things that I had almost forgotten that stirred my newer and older thoughts together in my mind and made me try to amalgamate them.

source: p. 434. Hundred and Thousands - the Journals of Emily Carr

publisher: Douglas & McIntyre, Vancouver, Toronto, Berkley.

Painting: National Gallery of Canada

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