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Burnett, David.

Toronto, Art Gallery of Ontario, c1983. 72pp, paper, $10.00, ISBN 0-919876-89-7. CIP

Grades 9 and up
Reviewed by Carrie Gardner

Volume 13 Number 1
1985 January

We are now in a period of reassessment and renewed interest in abstract artists as can be seen in exhibitions in New York and Toronto. Painterly artists and the design qualities of abstract paintings of the fifties and sixties are being appreciated for the problems the artists worked through. Oscar Cahen occupied a place in this history and his work has not been previously examined by those who were not his contemporaries.

David Burnett offers an insightful and concise look at the life and works of this man, a member of the Toronto group Painters Eleven. He offers an interesting parallel to the artist Tom Thomson. "At his death in 1917 Thomson was just a month short of turning forty; Cahen, who was born in 1916, was forty when he died. Both men died tragically and violently. Their careers as mature painters were limited to about eight years, and both men established careers as commercial artists before developing as painters."

Cahen's life, beginning with his protests against Nazi Germany and his elegant lifestyle upon his arrival in Toronto, offer an interesting comparison to the lives of other Toronto painters of that time. But it is the search for a unique style that reveals his breadth as an artist. And because of his untimely death, it is a search unfinished. This is an excellent catalogue.

Carrie Gardner, Seneca College, North York, Ont.
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