Between 1942 and 1963, the firm of Sampson-Matthews produced over one hundred silkscreen prints which were widely distributed throughout Canada and abroad and played an important role in shaping the notion of Canadian art. This article, the first of two focussing on the Sampson-Matthews prints, deals with the wartime project undertaken in partnership with the National Gallery of Canada. A future article will consider the post-war phase of the partnership, the last commercial phase of the programme undertaken after 1955 when the Gallery ceased to participate in the programme, and related silkscreen series which have been identified with the Sampson-Matthews/ National Gallery project.
Making Art Modern
Vie des Arts magazine and its contribution to the discourse on the visual arts in Québec during the 1950's and 1960's
In the mid-20th century, the art press played an essential role in creating and sustaining a receptive audience for modernist works. By the late 1950's, art magazines flourished throughout North America, displaying and explaining modernism to a broader readership than ever before. In Canada, Vie des Arts, one of the country's two longest-running art periodicals (the other is Canadian Art), was part of this trend, reflecting that desire of the post-war arts community to become a participant in the wider life of the nation. Because of the accessibility of its form and content, the magazine became an ideal vehicle for demystifying and building culture. Magazines generally seek to inform and entertain, and sometimes, as the case of Vie des Arts, to educate the reader. They can also become sites for debate and a forum for new ideas, simultaneously creating and sustaining discourse, while giving voice to a group's specificity.
"Montreal was in a state of mud—of unmitigated mud" when Queen Victoria's son, Albert Edward, the Prince of Wales, landed at Bonsecours Wharf on 25 August I860 to inaugurate the Victoria Bridge. The Prince was greeted by an elaborate pavilion of welcome, constructed on the wharf by the Harbour Commissioners. Two weeks later, on September 8, Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper of New York published an engraving of the pavilion made from a photograph by "Notman of Montreal". The engraving presents the scene of a busy harbour where three steamships have docked and a fourth, the Victoria, is just pulling in. The Prince of Wales had arrived on the Kingston, already at rest at the foot of the pavilion. It was a scene of order, ceremony, and anticipation; rows of honour guards lined the wharf, crowds gathered on the quay and ships docked alongside awaiting the disembarkation of the Prince. Dwarfing all of this is the welcoming pavilion.