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


Vol. XXI (Anniversary, combined) (2000)


Le Père François-Xavier Duplessis et l'imagerie du Calvaire d'Arras en Nouvelle France (1738–1745)

translated summary:
Père François-Xavier Duplessis and Prints of the Arras Calvary in New France (1738–1745)

François-Xavier Duplessis was certainly the most celebrated Canadian-born Jesuit of his day. Born in Quebec City on January 13, 1694, he died in Paris in December 1771 at the age of seventy-seven. In October of 1716, after studying at the Collège des Jésuites de Québec, he left for France to become a member of the renowned Society of Jesus founded by Ignatius of Loyola. Duplessis fully intended to return to Canada to work as a missionary but that was not to be.

Autour du tableau
Trois chefs montagnais et Peter McLeod Peint par Théophile Hamel en 1848

translated summary:
Three Montagnais Chiefs And Peter McLeod
Painted by Théophile Hamel in 1848

On March 11, 1848 Lord Elgin, the Governor-General of Canada received a delegation of Montagnais chiefs and their interpreters from Lac-Saint-Jean in Québec. The meeting in Montréal was arranged on the initiative of Marc-Pascal de Sales Laterrière, the Member of Parliament from their region of the Saguenay. The three chiefs, Tumas (Thomas) Mesituapamuskan, Jusep (Joseph) Kakanukus and Pasil (Basil) presented a petition with one hundred and six signatures. Accompanying the chiefs were their interpreters. Peter McLeod, who had a Montagnais mother and a Scottish father, was considered the "founder" of Chicoutimi. His employee John McLaren along with Thomas Simard were also present. One of the chiefs read the petition in their own language, explaining the tragic situation of the Montagnais people on the crown lands of Lac-Saint-Jean and asked Lord Elgin for his help in eight specific matters. The petition concluded with the following: "If you do not give us what we ask, we will disappear like the snow that melts in the spring sun." By the end of 1848, the petition had produced positive results for the Montagnais people.

Identifying a Long- (and Still) Lost Early Paul Kane Painting, and Attributing a Related Work to Robert C. Todd

Some thirteen years ago, while working on When Winter was King, a small loan exhibition and related publication for the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies in Banff, I was able to relate an unattributed canvas in the collection of the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, to a Paul Kane painting exhibited first in Toronto in 1847. Known then as The Fur Trader, the painting had been acquired by the Glenbow Foundation from the Laing Gallery, Toronto in 1955. Suspecting it might be a Kane, Douglas Leechman, Director of Western Canadiana at the Glenbow, wrote the following year to Kenneth Kidd at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto to see if he would offer an opinion. After viewing a photograph of the painting, Kidd cautiously affirmed in 1957 that it probably was by Kane. Eleanor Ediger of the Art Division at the Glenbow then approached Clifford Wilson of The Beaver in Winnipeg, who responded by return mail that he thought the principal figure in the painting was John Henry Lefroy whose collection of letters, edited by George Stanley of the Royal Military College, Kingston, had been published recently in a volume entitled In Search of the Magnetic North. The frontispiece of that book, an 1853 George Theodore Berthon portrait of Lefroy, suggested the identification. Ediger then wrote to Stanley, who, while admitting there was some resemblance between the figure in the painting and Berthon's portrait, would not support the identification because he recalled no reference in Lefroy's papers to such a work by Kane.

Between a Hard Edge and a Soft Curve
Modernism in Canadian Photography

This initial investigation into Modernism in Canadian photography begins with the first Toronto Camera Club Salon in 1903, and ends with the last Canadian International Salon that was held at the National Gallery of Canada in 1939. This also marks the year in which the National Film Board of Canada was established.

Although Modernist photography was not systematically institutionalized through the formation of societies and clubs in either Europe or North America, it was an international trend like Pictorialism. However, in Europe, the United States, Russia and Mexico, Modernist photography did not follow a simple evolutionary path, but was rather the result of diverse influences affecting specific sets of cultural circumstances. In Europe, for example, experimental, avant-garde movements such as Cubism, Futurism, Surrealism, and Constructivism helped to shape the form of Modernist photography. In the United States, it was the Pictorialism of the Photo-Secessionists that provided both a well-established formal vocabulary and a critical framework from which departures were made into the language of Modernism. In New York, the American photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864–1946) started the Photo-Secession and tirelessly promoted photography as a medium of artistic expression, equal to painting, sculpture and the graphic arts, and he established important publishing and exhibition outlets for American and international photographers.

Sampson-Matthews and the NGC
The Post-War Years

In Canada, the concept of the land and the visual representation of the landscape have played a critical role in realizing what Benedict Anderson has termed the "imagined community" and it underpins the Canadian sense of nationalism. In a country with relatively few public art galleries and limited access to original works of art, surrogate images in the form of reproductions have played a critical role. They work across time and space and transcending regional difference to create a "Canadian" vision of the land. In this discussion of the National Gallery/Sampson-Matthews silkscreen project, I pick up on my earlier argument that our collective sense of what is "Canadian" in Canadian art and the positioning of the land (and more particularly of the wilderness aesthetic) as the key to Canadian identity can be traced to the Sampson-Matthews project and, more especially, to the post-war phase of that project.

Anthem Lip-Sync

In 1998, Marjorie B. Cohn, curator of prints at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University, announced she was including 0 Canada by Joyce Wieland in Touchstone: 200 Years of Artists' Lithographs, which investigated the history of lithography since its invention in 1798. Cohn declared 0 Canada from 1970 to be her favourite print in the exhibition. "For 0 Canada, the artist sang her national anthem and pressed her lipsticked mouth to the lithographic stone at each syllable," Cohn wrote; "the array of kiss marks was printed in lipstick pink." Cohn gave Wieland's print pride of place in the exhibition, installing 0 Canada on the title wall. As far as I can tell, for I did not see the exhibition, the juxtaposition served a double purpose. On the one hand, it reinforced the theme of the show — the capacity of the lithographic process to reproduce unmediated the autographic touch of the artist. (What could be more autographically tactile, more intimate, even erotic, than warm lips drawing life out of cold stone?) On the other hand, it signalled Cohn's deep affection for the medium in question, an affection she wished viewers to share by, as it were, blowing lithographic kisses in their direction. In this essay, I want to examine Wieland's lipstick imagery from 1963 to 1971, especially those images in which she is blowing kisses at Canada, and to consider how her expression of a feminized patriotism has been differently read by audiences.

Late Style in the Work of Gerald Ferguson

Late in 1999, a moment of no mere fin de siècle ennui but full-fledged end-of-the-millennium gravitas, I was preparing a slightly ironic exhibition for the National Gallery of Canada about time and big numbers which I called 2000 and Counting. The two artists in the first part of the show, which opened in November, were the Japanese Tatsuo Miyajima, and the Canadian (and transplanted former American) Gerald Ferguson. Ferguson's contribution to the exhibition consisted of two works quite different in terms of appearance and date, that nonetheless spoke very well to my theme because of their literal manifestation of vast quantities: a glittering heap of three tonnes of newly-minted pennies in one room and a dizzying grid of one hundred black paintings that filled the walls of another, not to mention the counting implied in their titles, and the large-scale manufacturing processes or the huge number of repeated painterly gestures involved in making them. These attributes introduced just the balance of fact and metaphor that I was looking for.