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Canadian Women Modernists

April 19, 2024July 28, 2024

Modernism was the most dominant art style of the 20th century, though it started with Realism and Impressionism in France in the late 19th century. Until the 1970s, when the art world began talking about “postmodernism,” Modernists ruled the contemporary art roost. Art history has recorded Modernism as a series of stylistic and technical innovations leading to a climax in Abstract Expressionism. Until recently, history has also told the story primarily in a series of portraits of heroic male artists, think Courbet, Monet, Cézanne, Van Gogh, Picasso, Rothko, Pollock, and Warhol.

Canadian Modernism is no different, with the all-male Group of Seven getting top billing and an artist like Emily Carr traditionally relegated to “follower” status. But women artists were always there, and of late more of them are being recognized for their pioneering efforts.

Modernism in Canada was more polite than that of France or the United States, but Canadian did try to push the envelope of what was considered contemporary. This exhibition drawn from the Beaverbrook’s permanent collection shines a spotlight on some of those pioneers, artists who embraced—in varying degrees—the revolutionary spirit of Modernism.

Canadian Women Modernists includes work by Margot Ariss, Ghitta Caisermann-Roth, Kathleen Daly, Carol Hoorn Fraser, Lucy Jarvis, Anne Kahane, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Marcella Maltais, Marian Dale Scott, and Florence Wyle.

Curated by Ray Cronin and organized by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery.