Journal of Canadian Art History / Annales d'histoire de l'art canadien


Vol. XXIX (2008)


Une protection spéciale du ciel
Le décor de l'église de Saint-Joachim et les tribulations de l'Église catholique québécoise au début du XIXe siècle

translated summary:
Special Protection from Heaven
The Decor of the Church of Saint-Joachim and the Tribulations of the Roman Catholic Church in Early Nineteenth-Century Quebec

The church of Saint-Joachim in the Côte-de-Beaupré region near Quebec City is considered a major work in the history of Quebec religious architecture. Its interior decor – produced by François and Thomas Baillairgé between 1816 and 1829 – is unanimously recognized as a turning point in the history of Quebec art. For the first time, the many elements of a church interior were conceived as an ensemble rather than separate entities as was the usual practice during the French Regime. This search for a unified decor, characteristic of the work of the Baillairgés and their disciples, has already been emphasized by most historians because it had a widespread influence on Quebec religious architecture during the first half of the nineteenth century. This article demonstrates however that this unity is only a relative one, masking in fact the real socio-cultural tensions at play in the parish of Saint Joachim.

Canada Receiving the Homage of Her Children
George Reid's Ave Canada and Gustav Hahn's Hail Dominion: A Proposal of Murals for the Entrance Hall of Canada's Parliament Buildings

In April 1904, Canadian Prime Minister Sir Wilfred Laurier received a letter from the executive of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Written by George Reid (1860-1947) and signed by Reid, Franklin Brownell (1857–1946) and William Brymner (1855–1925), the letter praised Laurier for his words of encouragement at the opening of the Academy's 1903 annual exhibition and expressed the hope that the government would provide more support for the arts. Reid also proposed a scheme of mural paintings for the Centre Block of the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. The murals were intended for the main entrance hall, the Commons and Senate chambers and the library.

"A Better Place"
Bureaucratic Poetics in Vera Frenkel's Body Missing and The Institute

As we click through the hotlinks of Vera Frenkel's websites, Body Missing (1994–ongoing) and The Institute™: Or, What We Do for Love (2003–ongoing), again and again we end up at places we have been before, like lost travellers walking in circles. Of course, we belong to that group of world-weary travellers who are capable of self-recognition: we know all about recurrence as an eruption of the Freudian uncanny, as a revelation and misrepresentation of repressed traumatic psychic events. We also know that any self-recognition must be misrecognition. In the absence of an actual navigation of Frenkel's websites, however, all that someone writing about them can offer is a series of elliptical allusions to those circles within circles. Immediately upon entering The Institute we are told that this will be "an investigation in the shape of a fugue." Any bearings we might hope to take from the highly structured musical fugue are subsequently flummoxed as we are presented with alternative dictionary definitions: a "fugue" can mean a pathological mental state in which a "loss of awareness of one's identity is often coupled with flight from one's usual environment." In Frenkel's websites we are meant to be disoriented.

Sources and Documents

L'Art Association of Montreal
Les années d'incertitude : 1863–1877 (Première partie)

translated summary:
The Art Association Of Montreal
The Years of Uncertainty: 1863–1877

This article reconstructs the little-known activities of the Art Association of Montreal during the period shortly after its founding in 1860. The research derives largely from local newspaper accounts as well as AAM documents and exhibition catalogues in the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' archives. Under its first president, Francis Fulford, the AAM was officially incorporated in 1863 and a year later, twenty-three bylaws were passed to ensure the founders' original intention to construct a permanent building to house exhibition galleries, a lecture hall, a library and a school of art and design. A curator would function as the institution's director along with five permanent committees. An Art Union to raise funds for the permanent collection by selling annual subscriptions for draws on small Canadian art works and to provide its subscribers access to exhibitions and events, was in place by 1865. Although the scheme had to receive government approval as it was a form of gambling, the project became less of a priority three years later because of the lack of public support. Instead, the AAM's board decided to devote its energy and funds towards creating a permanent art gallery.


A History of Art in Alberta: 1905–1970 • An Alberta Art Chronicle: Adventures in Recent and Contemporary Art
Nancy Townshend • Mary-Beth Laviolette

State anniversaries are occasions to reflect on what went before and to construct narratives that impart a level of order and coherence on the events of the past. Alberta's centennial in 2005 saw the publication of two major accounts of artistic practice in the province: Nancy Townshend's A History of Art in Alberta: 1905–1970 and Mary Beth Laviolette's An Alberta Art Chronicle: Adventures in Recent and Contemporary Art. Although different in structure, style and scope, together these two publications provide an overview of one hundred years of artistic production in Alberta. Given the dearth of comprehensive histories of the art of the province, they will be much-used reference sources for many years to come.

Unsettling Encounters: First Nations Imagery in the Art of Emily Carr
Getta Moray

Emily Carr is to Canadian art what Louis Riel is to Canadian history. They both incite extreme reactions and their lives and work provide a seemingly endless field for exploration, conjecture and debate. Ignored for much of her lifetime, championed by feminists in the 1980s, vilified in the 1990s for cultural appropriation, Carr's writing and artwork have been the subject of numerous publications; yet she appears to be a far from exhausted subject. Her numerous eccentricities, her status as a marginalized, unmarried female artist in a community still dominated by late-Victorian attitudes, her fictionalized autobiographical writings and most importantly, her distinctive paintings insure our continued interest. Gerta Moray's work on Emily Carr influenced this discourse several years before the publication of the book under review. Douglas Cole's 2000 article "The Invented Indian/The Imagined Emily" in BC Studies relies heavily on Moray's doctoral dissertation, "Northwest Coast Culture and the Early Indian Paintings of Emily Carr, 1899–1913," completed in 1993. It is Emily Carr's early work that has been Gerta Moray's project and through careful consideration, she constructs a pointed yet compassionate window into the life and work of a woman who lived uneasily on the overlapping boundaries of gender, race and the social conventions of her time. Moray's title, Unsettling Encounters, is derived from the notion that Carr's encounters with the Haida, Coast Salish, Tlingit and Nuu-chah-nulth (among the nine North West Coast nations whose territories she painted), were deeply unsettling to her and subsequently, to her audience.

Seduced by Modernity: The Photography of Margaret Watkins • Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photograph
Mary O'Connor, Katherine Tweedie • Grant Arnold, Fred Herzog, Michael Turner

Two recent publications on photography aim to awaken interest in Canadian artists whose contributions have been missed or undervalued until now. Seduced by Modernity: The Photography of Margaret Watkins is the biography of the Hamilton-born artist who has previously been known and appreciated for Pictorialist and advertising photographs made while living in New York during and for a decade after the First World War. The book has been co-authored by Mary O'Connor, a professor of English and Cultural Studies at McMaster and Katherine Tweedie, a photographic specialist and retired professor of Studio Arts at Concordia. Fred Herzog: Vancouver Photographs is a photographic book published in conjunction with the first major exhibition of his work, organized by Grant Arnold, curator of British Columbia art for the Vancouver Art Gallery. The two books are comparable to the degree that both fill gaps in our knowledge of photographic Modernism. They are equally thought provoking in terms of the authors' attempts at answering reasons for those gaps. In other respects, the books are significandy different. An institutional perspective frames the Herzog project, while second-wave feminism plays an important role in delivering the portrait of Watkins. The authors were working with different expectations of reception, and they were not wrong. Although not entirely obscure, Herzog's remarkable œuvre broke over the Vancouver art scene like a wave; O'Connor and Tweedie's long anticipated monograph has been received by the photographic community with pleasure and relief.

Kenneth Lochhead: Garden of Light
Ted Fraser

The sense I have of the goals of independent curator Ted Fraser for this exhibition and catalogue project on Ken Lochhead (1926–2006) is that he wanted to bring together many of the best paintings by this now late, important artist to create an old-fàshioned retrospective exhibition. He also wanted to write a detailed catalogue essay that would make a claim for Lochhead's art as a major œuvre, from his earliest years on through to the present. Fraser definitely wants us to stop focusing only on those heady Regina Five years that catapulted Lochhead onto the international stage. In this specific aspect Fraser has set out to right a perceived wrong, and it is a tall order. We can certainly admire him for this — the way one would cheer for anyone who had set himself a challenging task — and Fraser rolled up his sleeves and went at it with gusto.