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London (England), Lund Humphries Publishers, 1991. 127pp, paper, $29.95, ISBN 0-85331-586-8

Distributed by Raincoast Book Distribution Ltd., 112 East 3rd Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V5T1C8. CIP

Grades 10 and up/Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Gary Robertson

Volume 20 Number 1
1992 January

This book is the catalogue for a major Canadian art exhibition at the Barbican Art Gallery in London, England. It is also a very interesting research docu­ment on some aspects of Canadian art. The theme of the exhibition is early twentieth-century landscape painters and their attempt to develop a new vision for our art. The works chosen for the show depict the rural, the rustic or the rugged Canadian environment.

Michael Tooby has chosen the accompanying essays well. The five writings discuss the 'True North" as seen by artists, the origins of the National Gallery of Canada, Emily Cart's unique vision and contribution, and the differences between the art of English Canada and French Canada. The essays on the "north" and on Emily Carr try to define the geographical and philosophical boundaries of the vast stretches of unpopulated Canada that offered such magnificent vistas for landscape painters. Considering the primitive transportation and accommo­dation at the time, one must applaud the event as much as the artistic output.

The other essays explore the dynam­ics of geography, culture, politics and patronage on Canadian art. There was a critical interaction between the Royal Canadian Academy and the National Gallery, between the regionalism of English Canadian art and the interna­tionalism of Quebec art, and the Group of Seven with its critics. The history of Canadian art is not dull; it is filled with excitement, real-life drama and happy endings. It is worth exploring, and this book is a good starting point.

There are a few disappointments in the book. First, the print is extremely small, making it hard to read in all but the best light. Secondly, although there are thirty-seven colour reproductions, many could have been printed larger. Many of the forty-five black-and-white reproductions should also have been printed in colour.

True North is good reading and can be a useful document for discussions on Canadian art.

Gary Robertson, Thorn Collegiate, Regina, Sask.
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