Canadian Art History
A Mosaic of Cultures, Religions, Practices, Values, Views, and Lifestyles
When I hear the words “Canadian Art,” I think of the words unique, experience, stories, expression, culture, and growth. As a people, we Canadians are immigrants, a mosaic of people that come from all over the world bringing their cultures, religions, practices, values, views, and lifestyles to our country. From this, we have shared our stories and learned from theirs as they have ours.
With the bringing of other cultures to Canada, their styles, inspiration, and practices have also been brought. I work with children, youth and adults in a multicultural community and by this, I have learned so much about not only different cultures and beliefs, but also about being respectful and open to learning about others and their culture.
Us Canadians and our art are known to portray our world around us with our landscapes, portraits, lifestyle, etc. With Canadian Art, I believe we are in the “childhood” stage of life. Us as a country and our art are only almost two hundred years old, we were a new, developing, expanding nation learning new techniques like the use of color, different treatments of light, combining coal and tar and experimenting with Cubism, much like Picasso did in Europe. Much like a child, our art looks up at others (countries) for inspiration, to follow their footsteps while paving their own way and finding their own identity. In the 1920s, we’ve had a great influence by the Europeans (British conservatives) and the Americans, something so outside of our moral preoccupation (wood to metal, newspapers, magazines regarding arts now about politics and socialism, experimenting with surrealism).
With the coming of World War II, artists were now creating works of art regarding what was occurring in their lives, painting all the horrors that comes with war by artists like Otto Dix, Wyndam Lewis, and Alex Colville. Men at the time “painted airplanes like they do naked women.” and when it came to portraits of men in the war, they were portrayed in their green uniform. Postwar, artists now created “romantic” pieces regarding war and death. Like any negative or positive event or experience in one’s life, it changes the person emotionally and physically and how they create but also helps them grow from their experiences.
Much like women's rights in the past, their art was practically invisible, with them having to fight for not only a right to have a working career other than being a housewife but to be an artist and have their own independent, artistic respect. Women have been neglected and looked down on, with women being allowed to learn from books and teachers but having it called “polite arts” to demerit any merit that they had to not having their arts credited to them, but to have their arts be identified “By a Lady” or by a “Paintress.” Currently, women now no longer have to fight for their identity or to have a profession or education. They are taking over not just the art world, but the world itself.
Fast forward to now, and the art world has changed immensely. With the birth of new mediums and advancements in technology, our art is not the same as it once was. Our subjects of our artworks are different now that our urban planning, landscapes, and other things have changed. With most of the technological advances coming from the U.S, Canadian artists followed suit and got inspired and got into the new technologies and mediums. Now having social media, it has become easier for artists to post their work online and for others to view, publish and purchase, creating a whole new world and audience that was never there. In conclusion, Canadian artists are growing, young, and up and coming. We portray a culture and diversity through our art that is unique to us as a nation.