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Dennis Reid.
Toronto, ON: Oxford University Press, 1988.
418pp., cloth, $29.95.
ISBN 0-19-540664-8. CIP.

Subject Heading:
Painting, Canadian-History.

Grades 10 and up / Ages 15 and up

Reviewed by J.E. Stepson.

Volume 17 Number 2
1989 March

The first edition of A Concise History of Canadian Printing (Oxford University Press, 1973) has been one of the chief sources of information and opinion on an important aspect of Canadian culture. The appearance of the second edition will only make the book's position more secure.

While minor changes in wording, attribution and interpretation appear frequently - in the case of syntax, often for the better - what establishes the second edition's significance is an eighty-three-page final chapter, 'The Death and Rebirth of Painting," which reports on activity from 1965 to 1980, a period that saw some of the most stimulating production and presentation in Canadian art.

Dennis Reid's account of both the period and its forerunners is urbane, meticulous and often engaging in its anecdotal detail. One wishes that more colour reproductions had been added to reflect the vibrancy of the post-Centennial years: only two out of twenty-five do so. Reid is remarkably deft at describing absent compositions; it's unfortunate that he has to illustrate his talent so regularly.

It must be remembered, however, that this is a concise history (although not the "handbook" the publishers claim it to be on the dust jacket). This means that omissions of all kinds have to be made. Some of us would have liked more generous treatment of paintings out west and down east, as well as more surprises in the cast. What there is, though, is good, entertaining and authoritative.

J.E. Stepson, Edmonton Public Schools, Edmonton, AB.
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