Canada Arts Part I

By | December 25, 2021

In the seventies and eighties in Canada, as elsewhere, there was a proliferation of artists and the nature of art has changed radically.

In 1980, for example, a federal government study listed 3,500 artists. This expansion has had several causes: first, forty years of extensive scholarship programs; second, the immigration of many intellectuals and artists from Europe, Asia, South America and, especially during the Vietnam War, from the United States; third, the inclusion of specialized art courses in general university curricula, which for the first time ensured direct access from the academic world to the artistic one. In particular, immigration from the United States has included many critics and art historians and has accentuated the awareness of Canadian artists with respect to American and European culture.

In fact, much of Canadian art in the 1970s and 1980s represents a comment, implicit or explicit, on American culture, especially pop culture, and on the means of communication – television, cinema, advertising – which are vehicles of this culture. This comment, crucial for Canada’s reflection on his own identity, was critically legitimized by the suggestive theories of the Canadian critic M. McLuhan (1911-1980), famous all over the world for the basic concept “the medium is the message”, that is, the means of mass communication is an integral part of the message itself. For Canada 2018, please check

Grant programs, by allowing artists to be relatively independent of the market, have influenced art operators and the type of art produced. For example. led to a rapid increase in the number of female artists, a relative concentration of non-commercial art forms (installations, works specifically linked to a place, performances, multimedia structures or events, ephemeral frescoes, etc.) and a rapid rise of artistic genres, such as video-art or mixed video-computer-electronic installations, which require a large financial investment. The grants have also favored the creation of circuits of ” parallel ” spaces managed by the artists, such as: Fusion des Arts (Montreal, 1964), Intermedia (Vancouver, 1967), Vehicule (Montreal, 1972), Western Front (Vancouver, 1973; specialized in video), Art Metropole (Toronto, since 1974; catalogs, distribution), A-Space (Toronto, 1970; video), The Funnel Experimental Film theater (since 1977), Music Gallery (Toronto, since 1976), Center for Tape Arts (Halifax, since 1978; video), YYZ (since 1979) and Mercer Union (since 1979). These spaces, providing a meeting point, a common environment and co-owned equipment, have led to collective work by many artists, multimedia works, ideologically oriented production (from Marxism, psychoanalysis, feminism and post -feminism) and a heightened awareness among artists of stylistic, regional, national and sexual identities. Accordingly, characteristic of the seventies and eighties were the groups (NE ThingGeneral IdeaFast Wurms), in which the artists merged their individual identity into a ” collective image ”.

The same funding mechanisms by the state and educational institutions have led to the rapid formation of a large class of critics and curators and the birth of art reviews and magazines. For example. Parallelogram presents projects and exhibitions of ” parallel ” galleries; Montreal’s bi-monthly Parachute aims to open up to the international avant-garde and has become one of the world’s leading art magazines. In 1984 both Arts Magazine and Artscanada ceased publication, however the sumptuous and elegantly written monthly Canadian Art (1984) attest to the development of a large and wealthy art audience. The quarterly C-Magazine (1984) reflects the aesthetic of Toronto’s Queen Street art Scene. Vanguard is a spokesman for the philosophically homogeneous art of Vancouver and the West Coast, but has gradually spread nationwide. In a country as vast as Canada the curators, the spaces managed by the artists and their circuits, and the magazines play a central role in creating a national artistic community.

The Toronto-New York axis naturally remained at the center of the development of art in Canada: the landscape art of the “group of Seven” had dominated until 1953, when W. Ronald, returning from New York, organized the Painters Eleven’sexhibition, suddenly introducing abstract expressionism to the city. Inspired by the Painters Eleven, a group of younger artists, such as J. Wieland, M. Snow, G. Coughtry, G. Rayner, and D. Burton, gathered around the Isaacs Gallery and dominated Toronto art until in the late 1960s.

Two of the major artists of the 1960s maintained an enormous influence in the following decades: the virtuoso M. Snow (b. 1929) is internationally famous for his art films (Wavelength, 1967; La Region centrale, 1971; Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot(Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen, 1974; Presents, 1981), for her photographs and for her monumental series of paintings and sculptures on the silhouette of a girl (Walking Woman Works, 1961-67); J. Wieland (b.1931), a prominent figure in both New York and Toronto, having made his debut in an abstract expressionistic style with paintings, cartoons and drawings, then she devoted herself to constructions, experimental films (The Far Shore, 1976) and in the 1980s, accentuating a stance as a militant woman, to paintings and multimedia works in a figurative and visionary style, such as Barren GroundCaribouDefendre la terre.

Canada Arts