Thursday, May 31, 2012

Canada's Premier Cartoonist Dies

VICTORIA — Jim Unger, the artist behind the syndicated cartoon strip Herman, has died. He was 75.

Friend and fellow cartoonist Adrian Raeside says Unger had been feeling unwell for some time and died in his sleep at his home in Saanich, B.C.

Raeside says Unger’s cartoons, which span decades, are still as fresh and funny as the day he drew them.

Unger could find humour in just about anything, Raeside told the Victoria Times Colonist, a newspaper he draws cartoons for, in addition to a syndicated comic strip.

Born in London, England, Unger immigrated in 1968 to Canada, where his cartooning career began at the Mississauga Times in Mississauga.

.To read the complete story, please click here

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Untitled Poem by J.E.H. MacDonald

Untitled Poem
By J.E.H. MacDonald

I go to the beautiful lake O'Hara
lying in a rainbow sleep
under the steeps of Mount Lefroy
and the waterfalls of Oesa.
And there I realized some of the blessedness
of mortals…

I looked at the emerald
and violet of her colour. It is
emerald and malachite, and jade,
and rainbow green, and mermaid eyes…

These are some of the people
who stand about Lake O'Hara:
Lefroy, Victoria, Huber
Wiwaxy, Cathedral, Odaray…

I have memories
of the clearest crystal
mountain days imaginable,
when we fortunates in the height
seemed to be sky people
living in light alone…

 Extracted from the website, 'Under a Familiar Sky'
Please click here 

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thoreau MacDonald

I was reading Bruce Whiteman's book 'J.E.H. MacDonald' and came upon a section on MacDonald's son, and only child, Thoreau.

My interest was piqued when I read that Thoreau was a good painter in his own right.  So, with that in mind I did a bit of online research and found some information on the site, 'Historical Perspectives on Canadian Publishing.'
Please click here.

The article points out that Thoreau had a considerable presence in Canadian art,

"During a period of nearly fifty years, the beautiful decorations, lettering, illustrations, and designs of Thoreau MacDonald appeared in Canadian books, magazines, and catalogues, in an Arts and Crafts movement style that was imbued with a particularly Canadian sensibility. Revered for these works and for the rural- and nature-inspired publications of his own Woodchuck Press, MacDonald is today considered to have been one of the country’s most important book designers and illustrators."
What struck me was that Thoreau had a successful career in art as an illustrator - and was colourblind and he worked primarily in black and white.  Although, to be fair - there are degrees of colourblindness.

To read more about Thoreau, in Wikipedia, please click here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Landscape Artists Contribute to Canada's Image Abroad

Many of the artists who represented western landscape, including Marmaduke Mathews, William McFarlane Notman, and George Horne Russell, travelled west by railway from eastern and central Canada on free passes provided  by William Van Horne, general manager of the Canadian Pacific Railway Company from 1885-1888 and president from 1888 to 1899.  At this time the income generated from the freight and passenger services was inadequate to pay the company's construction debts and operating expenses.  To solve this problem Van Horne organized an intensive immigration campaign as a means of selling the land which the federal government had given his company in exchange for building the transcontinental line. While most of the land was sold to immigrant farmers, Van Horne also set up a tourist industry along the western CPR route in the form of luxury hotels and other attractions, beginning at Banff.  In addition he supported the creation of government controlled  wilderness parks in some areas. To advertise the CPR's tourist services, Van Horne commissioned work from some of the artists he gave free passage to the west.   He used this art which portrayed the wilderness experience, to illustrate posters, brochures and displays and to support tourism indirectly through public exhibitions and purchases. Van Horne saw himself as altruistic  - a nomad taming the wilderness for the benefit of the collective - since he believed that by inspiring national sentiment, landscape art could contribute to the well being of the nation.

pp 151-152
Picturing the Land, Narrating Tales in Canadian Landscape Art 1500-1950.
Marylin J. McKay
McGill Queen's University Press
Montreal, Kingston, London, Ithaca
ISBN 978-0-7735-3817-7

The above poster came from the CPR website.  Please click here to visit their rich store of poster art.
Please note that the above poster is not to be downloaded for commercial purposes.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Jeff Wall's, "Dead Troops Talk."

It was a macabre scene set up in a suburban Vancouver studio using a team of actors;some borrowed military garb and lots of fake blood; but the 1992 photograph titled Dead Troops Talk - widely hailed as world-renowned B.C. artist Jeff Wall's single most important creation - is set to become the most expensive piece of photographic artwork in Canadian history.

Above picture and article extracted from Global News Website. Please click here.

Canadian Press

NEW YORK, N.Y. - A famous photo by Canadian artist Jeff Wall has sold for more than US$3.6 million at auction in New York.

Created in 1992, Dead Troops Talk (A vision after an ambush of a Red Army patrol, near Moqor, Afghanistan, winter 1986) is one of Wall's most recognized and written-about works.
Christie's says the photograph sold Tuesday for US$3,666,500, setting a world auction record for the Vancouver artist.

Wall, who is known for large-scale photographs of contemporary everyday genre scenes, arranged the image with actors in the studio, photographed in individual sections later assembled digitally, and finally simulated a monumental outdoor photograph.

Christies had estimated the 229.2 cm x 417.2 cm artwork could sell for between US$1.5 and US$2 million.

In 2007, Wall was named an officer of the Order of Canada.

The above article was extracted from Please click here.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Art of Robert Bailey

"The Portrait" has presented Robert's profile and work in the past and this one is a response to a video sent our way from his son Michael.  I posted it in the Art Announcements page which can be accessed beneath the Blog's header picture.

Robert is a prodigous painter and he's an outstanding graphic artist.  He is recently in the employ of George Lucas for the next edition of Star Wars.  When I viewed this video, its pretty evident that Robert has a real love of portrait work, and painting active aircraft and military action paintings.  He is adept with both pencil and brush work.

If you want to sneak a peak into his studio, I would suggest you look at the video of his house which is up for sale in Stoney Plain Alberta.  Please click here.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heffel Auction Report: Lemieux and Carr Big Ticket Sales


Lemieux, Carr soar at Heffel auction

John MacKie, Vancouver Sun
Fri May 18, 2012

Jean-Paul Lemieux and Emily Carr set the standard at a $14.7 million Heffel auction of Canadian art Thurs-day at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Lemieux's 1973 painting La plage americaine sold for $1.813 million in an afternoon sale of postwar and con-temporary art. Carr's 1930 oil Eagle Totem was the high point of the evening auction of Fine Canadian Art, selling for $1.638 million.

'La plage americaine' by Jean Paul Lemieux
Both doubled their high estimate, and sold to determined telephone bidders.

The winning bidder for the Lemieux painting startled the audience by bid-ding $800,000 when the previous bid was $550,000. They then duelled with another telephone bidder before taking the painting with a hammer price of $1.55 million.

After Heffel's 17-per-cent commission, the sale price was $1.813 mil-lion, the second highest value for a Lemieux painting at auction.

"It's not very often that someone will call out a huge increment jump," noted David Heffel, who runs the auction with his brother Robert.

"[But] he knew what he was doing. The buyers and the bidders know the market better than anyone, because they're the ones putting the paddles up. I think at $800,000, he thought it was good value. And in retrospect, it was."

Carr's iconic image Eagle Totem also inspired spirited bidding, with a hammer price of $1.4 million and $1.638 million after commission.

"It was very exciting," said Robert Heffel.

"We were very pleased. I was very happy for the consigner, I think they did extremely well. But at the same time, the purchaser also got the prize, so everybody's happy."

It was the sixth biggest sale of Canadian art in history. The Lawren Harris sketch Lake Superior sold for $526,000, as did J.E.H. Macdonald's Early Autumn, Montreal River, Algoma.

A.Y. Jackson's Morning, Great Bear Lake went for $409,500, and another Jackson, Encampment, Eastern Arc-tic, sold for $351,000. Harris's early masterpiece Building The Ice House, Hamilton, went for $380,250, as did a Paul-Emile Borduas abstract, Jeunesse, and another Lemieux painting, Le mois du juin.

It was a good night for British Columbia artists. The Heffels kicked off the auction with B.C. Binning's small but delightful Two Ships Standing Off, with doubled its high estimate at $64,350. Several Gordon Smith paintings also sold in the $40,000 to $60,000 range.
Article from the Heffel.Com website. Please click here

Friday, May 18, 2012

War Artist Destroys His Art to Make a Political Statement

Allan Harding MacKay, Canadian War Artist destroys his painting to make a statement against the Conservative Government.  MacKay is making his statement because he feels the government is damaging the democratic process.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Untitled Thomson Find, Sells for $110,000

A painting bought at a Vancouver garage sale and believed to be by iconic Canadian artist Tom Thomson has been sold at auction for $110,000, considerably less than its estimated value.

The untitled oil painting, measuring just 28 centimetres by 21 centimetres, was expected to draw $250,000 or more in the auction at Maynards Fine Art and Antiques in Vancouver Wednesday night.

The buyer's identity has not been made public.

The garage-sale buyer, who also has remained anonymous, bought the Thomson oil painting, along with a watercBellringer estimated the value of the Thomson at between $150,000 and $250,000, but thought it would be sold for a higher price at auction.

The Thomson painting depicts a sunrise or sunset over a lake and hills, typical of many the artist did in Ontario's Algonquin Park before his death in 1917. He was considered a major influence on the 1920s' Group of Seven.

The value of the Varley watercolour, an impressionistic cityscape of Sheffield, England, was pegged between $4,000 and $7,000 and drew a sale price of $6,500 at the auction.olour sketch by Group of Seven artist Frederick Varley, for $100 and later took the paintings to Maynards for appraisal.

Maynards' director of Canadian and contemporary art at Maynards, Kate Bellringer, had a number of experts examine the paintings and the consensus was that the works were indeed painted by Thomson and Varley.

Extracted from the CBC News website. Please click here.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Newly Discovered Tom Thomson Goes on Sale Today

It has been reported that Maynards of Vancouver will be auctioning off the latest Tom Thomson which was recently purchased in a garage sale.  I was unable to find it listed on the Maynard's website.  Stay tuned!

Norman Leibovitch Paintings from You Tube

I'm not sure how to explain this but let me try.  I have always said that if a piece of  art has done its job if it evokes a strong emotion within me.  That means, looking so deep within the painting that you can sense the the soul of the artist.

I find this within the works of Norman Liebovitch.  There is a deep sense of despair. To be fair, the music may contribute to that feeling and too, the presence of Munsch's, 'The Scream', in the news lately.

There are elements of Munsch's style within Leibovitch's work. But there is much more. The paintings we see cover a wide range of the human experience. Its a tableau of life.  Some of the paintings look like they were reproduced from the Lasceaux caves, or the Peterborough Petroglyphs.

The pictures run the gamut from a mediaeval style portrait, to prison barbed wire, from factories and lonely streets to people who look into the world through solitary, introspective, and saddened eyes. There is that ever present sense of despair within the human condition. Its existential, in that it says that our lives are spent within the walls of social prisons which are beyond our control.

Its important to look at Leibovitch's works within the social context of his age.  He was Jewish, and he painted within the 40's, 50's and early 60's.  He painted through the years when  the Jews of Europe were subjected to horrible Nazi atrocities and when humanity was mobilized and controlled by great political and social forces.   He was painting through the period when Albert Camus was existentially struggling to define the freedom of individuals. When viewed from this perspective, Leibovitch  gives us a dark image of man's inner landscape.  He is  more then a painter. He's an artist who observes and inteprets the relationship between man and his world.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Art, National Identity and the CPR

This is a splendid video giving a glimpse of the University of Lethbridge's collection of art, included in which are some noted works of Canadian Railroad art.

Please click here to visit the U of L, website.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Thomas Mower Martin

Just because you can capture beautiful scenes with paint, doesn't mean you can do the same with words.

The Blessed West
by Thomas Mower Martin, 1902 
'Tis forty years since first to Canada
I came from blythe old England's happy shore
Passed through Quebec and ever westward bore
Till in Muskoka's woods I came to stay
Hence summer short and winter's long delay
Drove me to old Toronto to restore
My fortunes during thirty years or more
Then to the blessed west I made my way
Now I look back on wasted years of cold
In winter and in summer burning heat
Too late to start again now I am old
In the mild climate of this calm retreat
But not too late to rest for the short time
I have to spend within this blessed clime

picture: from the Glenbow Museum website. Please click here.
poem from the Thomas Mower Martin website. Please click here.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Sir Frederick alias Frederick Grant

I found this painting and a few others, on the Canadian Diabetes website and found them most appealing.

They are the work of the artist Frederick Grant. Blog editor, Maureen Bayliss, put me onto the fact that this was the nom de plume used by Sir Frederick Banting, (co-discoverer of insulin).

Its understandable that this work should show the influence of AY Jackson and the Group of Seven since Grant (or Sir Frederick), was mentored by Jackson.  The article is a good read. Please click here to be taken to the site.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Artist at Work

Art lovers are accustomed to seeing finished works hanging in galleries, but seldom see behind the scenes where the work is constructed. Thanks go out to Stephen Snider for sending us this picture of himself at work on a recent Port Hope painting.

'The Portrait' invites artists to submit articles of interest and pictures of their finished works for critiquing.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Historical Plaque of artist JD Kelly

Plaque Location
The County of Northumberland
The Municipality of Trent Hills
In Warkworth, in a park at the intersection of 
Mill Street and Old Hastings Road

Coordinates: N 44 12.080 W 77 53.354

Plaque Text
John David Kelly, a gifted painter and illustrator, is best known for his meticulously researched paintings depicting important events in Canada's history. Many of Kelly's paintings and sketches were commissioned for reproduction and were widely distributed. The artist was born at Gore's Landing in 1862 and grew up in Percy Township. He graduated from the Ontario School of Art in 1882, contributed to the noted calendars of the Toronto Art League, and was active in the Graphics Arts Club and the Ontario Society of Artists. Kelly's historical painting is represented in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

source:  historical plaques of Ontario. Click here.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Paintings by Norman Leibovitch

I chanced upon the works of Norman Leibovitch recently, and thought it would be beneficial to dedicate a couple of blog entries to him.

The first thing that amazed me is the enormous personal portfolio he created.

Solo and Group Exhibitions
December 2011 On and Off the Wall Exhibition, Rize Mount Pleasant-Kingsway Art Collective, Vancouver, B.C
August 2011 Corner Cup Cafe Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
April 2009 Re-Entry Gallery Cafe, Vancouver, B.C.
August 2008 Main Artery Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
June 2008 Characters at The Sidney and Gertrude Zack Gallery, Vancouver, B.C.
December 2007- April 2008 Re-Entry Espresso Cafe, Vancouber, B.C.
2007 Quebec Landscapes, ShaShuka, Vancouver, BC.
2005 Nude, galRi, Montreal, QC, group exhibition.
2004 Nudes & Transient Visions: Flesh & Fantasy, Galerie Harwood, Hudson, QC, group exhibition
2004 Hommage à Norman Leibovitch, Galerie d'Art d'Outremont, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1984 Paintings , Downstairs Gallery, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1981 Colbert Gallery, Montreal.
1980 Norman Leibovitch: a survey 1945-1980 , Empire Industries Inc.,
Montreal, solo exhibition.
1962 Upstairs Gallery, Toronto, solo exhibition.
The Penthouse Gallery, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1961 An Exhibition of Nudes , Sobot Gallery, Toronto, solo exhibition.
1951 Paintings of Israel , West End Art Gallery, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1950 An Exposition of Landscapes , Wiseman Studio, Montreal, solo exhibition.
Collège Jean de Brébeuf, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1948 The Norlyst Gallery, New York, solo exhibition.
1947 Collège Jean de Brébeuf, Montreal, solo exhibition.
Little Gallery, Winnipeg.
1945 Exhibition of Paintings by Norman Leibovitch , The Arts Club, Montreal, solo exhibition.
Landscapes , Galerie l'Art Français, Montreal, solo exhibition.
1944 Adventures in Art , Eaton's Fine Art Galleries.e

The following extract  is from the Norman Leibovitch website.  If you click here you will be able to read the rest of his story.

Norman Leibovitch first became known in the province of Quebec during the 1940's following a string of highly praised solo exhibitions.
A contemporary and acquaintance of renowned Montreal artists such as Louis Muhlstock, Moe Reinblatt and Sam Borenstein, his work has been shown across North America in major cities such as Montreal, Toronto and New York. The artist's first posthumous retrospective exhibition recently took place at La Galerie d'art D'Outremont from August 17- September 3, 2004, the public was invited to a rare viewing of 75 oil paintings covering the artist's career from his early years until his death in 2002.
Leibovitch studied as a scholarship student at the American Artist School in New York City, and later at the New York Art Students League under the famous sculptor William Zorach. As a Montreal native, however, the artist chose to return to his home city where he worked prolifically, resulting in a present day collection of over 1,000 paintings. He is most recognized for his large scale female nudes, Quebec landscapes and paintings depicting Jewish themes.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Thomas Lorraine Hunt/Laguna Beach Art Association

Online Research Notes
Thomas Lorraine Hunt (1882-1938)

Thomas Lorraine hunt was born in London, Ontario, Canada on February 11, 1882 to artist John Powell Hunt. At a young age, Hunt began studying art first under his father, then with Hugh H. Brecknridge at the Pennsylvania Academy, and eventually in other various American and European art centers. To earn a living, Hunt learned about the construction business and moved to Cleveland, Ohio to be a real estate developer where he built and sold apartment buildings. During his leisure time, Hunt continued to paint. In 1924, at 42, Hunt moved to California where he continued to his work in real estate development in Hollywood and San Bernadino.

He was very involved in the Laguna arts community and was a founding member of the Laguna Beach Art Association. 

He taught classes, painted, exhibited locally, and helped aspiring young artists financially and as a mentor. After his wife died in 1934, Hunt returned to Canada and then to Gloucester, Massachusetts where he had painted earlier in his life. He enjoyed his time painting his favorite subjects of wharves and fishing boats. 2-3 years later, he returned to Laguna Beach and died at the Santa Ana Valley Hospital on April 17, 1938 from an ulcer operation and is buried in Mountain View Cemetery in San Bernadino.

San Diego Art Guild; California Art Club; Painters & Sculpters of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach Art Association.

Exhibited: State Fair, 1923; first prizes, Laguna Beach Art Association, 1927, 1935; Thomas award, Pasadena Art Institute, 1933; prize, San Diego Fine Art Guild, 1933.
Works held; Bowers Museum, Santa Ana, Kansas City Museum; Laguna Museum of Art

(primary Source: Hughes, Edan Milton, "Artists in California: 1786-1940," San Francisco: Hughes Publishing Company, 1989.) - This Bio courtesy of The Redfern Gallery

Please click the link below.
extracted from artnet:

Laguna art colony information

Fredericks-Artworks Blog, copying policy

The Canadian Copyright act, section 29 reports on fairdealing, that it is not an infringement to reproduce someone else's work for research, study, criticism, review or to report. Which pretty much sums up what this site is about. All content sources, be they artists, printed references, and website url's are respectfully identified on this site. http://http//

Mission Statement
A Portrait of the Visual Arts in Canada, is intended to celebrate the richness of Canada's visual arts, and to promote the arts in Canada.

Statement of Intent
I make every effort to credit the sources of information used in this blog and to obtain the permission and cooperation of all the works presented by living artists. I try, as much as possible to use works from public sources eg. national and provincial collections, of deceased artists. If for any reason, any artist disapproves of anything written about them or their work the artist is encouraged to request withdrawal of the content.