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GROUP OF SEVEN

Group of seven at the ottawa art gallery

A.J. Casson, Frood Lake at Willisville, 1963, oil on canvas, 114.3 cm x 91.4 cm. Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, Ottawa Art Gallery. Donated to the City of Ottawa by the Ontario Heritage Foundation.

On May 7, 1920, the Group of Seven held their first art exhibition at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario), putting forward their vision for a national art movement grounded in the Canadian landscape. Now, over a century later, the Group of Seven holds a lasting impact on the development of Canadian Art, continuing to attract collectors on an international scale.

Experience the Group of Seven at the Ottawa Art Gallery through the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, a significant art collection that spans the modern period. 

The Firestone family began collecting art in the early 1950s, amassing more than 1,600 works from across the country. While the Collection touches on the major groups and regional movements in Canada, its Group of Seven works make up the largest representation, forming 40 per cent of the holdings.

Thanks to the diligent efforts of the Firestone family, the Ottawa Art Gallery now has the third-largest holding of works by A.Y. Jackson in Canada.

ON VIEW: Visions and Views

The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art is a significant art collection that spans the modern period and includes work from a wide range of Canadian art styles, geographical regions, and periods. 

The two largest themes represented in the collection are landscape and abstractionDepictions and interpretations of landscape views from across the country are included alongside abstract visions by Canadian artists influenced by a variety of modernist techniques. Looking at the collection through this lens, this exhibition explores the history of Canadian art as represented through the collecting practices of the Firestone family.

Examples of work by all members of the Group of Seven can be found within Visions and Views, with works by A.Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, and A.J. Casson forming the largest representation.

“A landscape clean and crisp in form and colour, rich in inspiration is all that an artist could wish for, begging to be used, and full of inherent possibilities.”

– Franklin Carmichael

Play Video

Revisit Landscape, Loss, and Legacy through this curatorial video tour, where Don Kwan, a queer third-generation Chinese-Canadian artist, uses a multidisciplinary approach to engage with the City of Ottawa’s Firestone Collection of Canadian Art.  

Part of the OAG’s Firestone Reverb series, Kwan reflects on modernist depictions of landscape in Canada and brings a selection of these historical works into dialogue with his own artistic practice, to consider the question: what does it look like to belong in the Canadian landscape? 

Throughout the exhibition, Kwan’s work is displayed alongside works from the Firestone Collection, including works by artists such as Alan C. Collier, A.J. Casson, Yvonne McKague Housser, Lawren Harris, and George Pepper, among others. 

Women contemporaries

Emily Carr, Sunlight in the Forest, c.1912, oil on linen, 43.5 cm x 55.9 cm. Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, the Ottawa Art Gallery. Donated to the City of Ottawa by the Ontario Heritage Foundation.
Anne Savage, Banff, 1949, oil on plywood, 30.8 cm x 35.9 cm. Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, the Ottawa Art Gallery. Donated to the City of Ottawa by the Ontario Heritage Foundation.

The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art also contains work by Canadian women landscape artists who were contemporaries to the Group of Seven, including Emily Carr, Anne Savage and more.

While Group only had male members, and often met at the Arts and Letters Club – an establishment that restricted its membership to men – women artists found their way to connect, work professionally, and contribute to the national art movement. Emily Carr was an important landscape artist from British Columbia who maintained connection to Group member Lawren Harris over the years, twice exhibited with the Group, and is regarded as one of Canada’s most important 20th century artists. Landscape painter Anne Savage was a member of the Montreal-based Beaver Hall Group, had a particularly close friendship with Group member A.Y. Jackson, and contributed greatly to Canadian art through her painting, teaching and radio-broadcasts. The Firestone family collected works by these women and more alongside their holdings of work by the Group of Seven painters.

OAG Shop

Visit the OAG Shop and browse products from books, mugs, and notecards, featuring several works from the Group of Seven and inspired by the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art.

REVISIT: ALGOMA LANDSCAPE BY FRANZ JOHNSTON

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In 2020, the Ottawa Art Gallery celebrated the centennial of the Group of Seven with (RE)Collecting the Group of Seven, Celebrating 100 Years.  

Revisit this exhibit virtually with OAG Curator Rebecca Basciano and dive deeper into Algoma Landscape, painted by Franz Johnson, founding member of the Group of Seven.

workshop the artists: expanded landscapes

L.L. Fitzgerald, Prairie Homestead, 1925, oil on canvas, 27 cm x 34.1 cm. Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, Ottawa Art Gallery

Explore this important group of Canadian artists while reflecting on climate change with OAG’s Expanded Landscapes workshop. Examine famous artworks by the Group of Seven and imagine scenes beyond the confines of the canvasses. 

While thinking about climate change and experimenting with perspective and colour, create an expanded landscape and add your own point of view to these iconic works of art. 

 

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