A Space, Toronto
A not-for-profit, artist-run exhibition space that emerged out of Toronto’s Nightingale Gallery in 1971. A Space was an important centre for innovative art in all disciplines throughout the 1970s and remains a key site for the exhibition of contemporary visual art in Toronto. Its programming emphasizes inclusivity and political engagement.
Visual art that uses form, colour, line, and gestural marks in compositions that do not attempt to represent images of real things. Abstract art may interpret reality in an altered form, or depart from it entirely. Also called nonfigurative or nonrepresentational art.
A style that flourished in New York in the 1940s and 1950s, defined by its combination of formal abstraction and self-conscious expression. The term describes a wide variety of work; among the most famous Abstract Expressionists are Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning.
Associated with the Royal Academies of Art established in France and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries respectively, the academic tradition emphasized drawing, painting, and sculpture in a style highly influenced by ancient classical art. Subject matter for painting was hierarchically ranked, with history painting of religious, mythological, allegorical, and historical figures holding the position of greatest importance, followed, in order, by genre painting, portraiture, still lifes, and landscapes.
A private art school established by Rudolphe Julian in Paris in 1868. Among the many Canadian artists who studied there are Maurice Cullen, J.W. Morrice, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, and Charles Gagnon.
Adamson, Edward (British, 1911–1996)
A pioneer in the field of art therapy. A trained artist, Adamson lectured on art and facilitated artmaking sessions for psychiatric patients beginning after the Second World War. He became art director of the hospital in Netherne in 1948 and worked there for more than three decades until his retirement. His collection of patient artworks has travelled internationally.
Adamson, Robert (Scottish, 1821–1848)
A photographer, and one half of the photography team Hill and Adamson, in which Adamson’s role was largely that of technician. Known for pioneering artistic photographic portraiture and for early mastery of the calotype process, Hill and Adamson rank among the most important photographers of the nineteenth century.
Adaskin, Murray (Canadian, 1906–2002)
A member of the Adaskin family (a distinguished Canadian family of artists and musicians), Murray Adaskin began his career as an orchestral and chamber musician before turning to composition. A prolific modernist composer, known for championing Canadian music and musicians, Adaskin was also an influential teacher.
A term that refers to an optical illusion whereby an image remains visible even after its source is no longer present. An example of a common afterimage is the glow that appears in one’s vision following exposure to a bright light.
Akesuk, Saimaiyu (Canadian, b. 1988)
An artist known for her bold drawings, Saimaiyu often represents bears and birds in her work. Prints based on her drawings have been released in Kinngait Studios’ Annual Print Collection, including in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
Albers, Josef (German/American, 1888–1976)
A painter and designer who studied and later taught at the Bauhaus, Albers immigrated to the United States after the Nazis closed the school in 1933. As a teacher at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he attracted future luminaries such as Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning. Albers was a pioneer of Op art and Kinetic art.
Alberti, Leon Battista (Italian, 1404–1472)
The author of treatises on painting, sculpture, and architecture—together, these three texts serve as the theoretical basis for all of Renaissance art—Alberti is credited with standardizing the forms of classical design.
Albright, Ivan (American, 1897–1983)
A Chicago painter of haunting and meticulously constructed portraits and still lifes. His most famous works—among them his earliest monumental painting, Into the World There Came a Soul Named Ida, 1929–30—convey his lifelong concern with the idea of mortality. Albright also wrote and worked in sculpture, lithography, and film.
A coating consisting of a combination of egg whites and salt, applied to glass (for photographic negatives) or, more commonly, paper (for photographic prints), and then sensitized with a silver nitrate solution. Albumen prints were common from the 1850s to the 1890s, preferred over salt prints for their clarity.
An early twentieth-century group of Canadian landscape painters, including Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Tom Thomson, and F.H. Varley. Most went on to form the Group of Seven. They met regularly and were interested in developing a unique art form inspired by the Canadian wilderness.
Alleyn, Edmund (Canadian, 1931–2004)
An innovative and cerebral painter who engaged with numerous major styles throughout his life, from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Alleyn trained at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, in Quebec City, with Jean Paul Lemieux before moving to Paris in 1955, where he lived for fifteen years. He represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1960.
A photographic process consisting of a collodion positive on glass backed by an opaque material and held in a hinged case. Ambrotypes largely replaced daguerreotypes (with which they are easily confused) in the late 1850s and were themselves replaced in the 1860s by cheaper tintypes and cartes-de-visite.
An art movement popular from the 1920s to 1950s. Based in the American heartland, its adherents created pastoral scenes that venerated a pre-industrial United States, inspired by their rural and small-town surroundings. Among the most celebrated American Regionalists are the painters John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, and Thomas Hart Benton.
American Scene movement
A movement composed of smaller movements, including Regionalism and Precisionism, that developed in the United States from the late 1920s to the 1940s. American Scene painters, including Edward Hopper and Grant Wood, rejected European modernist aesthetics in favour of specifically American subject matter, which they portrayed in a realist style that had emerged with the earlier Ashcan School.
Anastasi, William (American, b. 1933)
A pioneering figure in American Conceptual and Minimal art, aligned with Carl Andre, John Cage, Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenburg, and Richard Serra. Anastasi was one of the first modern artists to create site-specific works; Six Sites, 1966–67, led the way for later artists and curators interested in this form.
“Ancestry of Cubism, The”
An article written by Jay Hambidge and Gove Hambidge, published in Century Magazine in 1914. The authors refer to examples of antique art and also to more recent art and design that they believed were precedents for Cubism and argue that the method of blocking out was not new.
Anderson, Wes (American, b. 1969)
A film director, producer, and screenwriter whose quirky, “serious” comedies regularly earn him major critical and commercial success. Rushmore (1998) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) exemplify his distinctive approach to storytelling and visual style. He works repeatedly with the same actors.
Anger, Kenneth (American, b. 1927)
A celebrated and controversial underground filmmaker who made his first film, the often-banned Fireworks, at age fifteen. His films and books demonstrate a lifelong fascination with the occult and the scandals of Old Hollywood. Anger’s influence has been wide-ranging, from commercial and experimental filmmakers to artists working in other media.
Used to colour wood, fabric, and leather, aniline dyes are synthetic organic compounds known for their clarity of colour and for retaining the appearance of natural textures.
A collective term that means “the people” or “original people” and refers to a number of interconnected communities such as the Ojibway, Odawa, Chippewa, Saulteaux, Mississauga, Potawatomi, and others. In Canada, the Anishinaabe region includes areas of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.
Anthology Film Archives
A New York City centre for film study, preservation, and exhibition, with emphasis on independent and experimental works, started in 1969 by five avant-garde filmmakers and writers on cinema: Stan Brakhage, Jerome Hill, Peter Kubelka, Jonas Mekas, and P. Adams Sitney.
Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. It holds that the spiritual element in human beings can be experienced in concrete ways and subjected to scientific quantification. The curriculum of Waldorf schools around the world today is based on Steiner’s educational theories and anthroposophical philosophy. The pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of the pupils.
Appel, Karel (Dutch, 1921–2006)
An artist whose work in diverse media includes expressionist and primitivist paintings and assemblages, olive-wood sculptures, stained glass windows, poetry, and the set design for the choreographer Min Tanaka’s 1987 ballet Can We Dance a Landscape?
A term denoting an idyllic pastoral landscape or natural utopia. Arcadian landscapes can be traced to the Hellenistic period, and they feature perhaps most famously in Italian Renaissance and eighteenth-century French and British paintings. The word derives from the name of a Greek province that has existed since antiquity.
Archambault, Louis (Canadian, 1915–2003)
A significant figure in twentieth-century Canadian sculpture, whose numerous public commissions can be found in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. Archambault also contributed to the Canadian pavilions at the Brussels World’s Fair, 1958, and Expo 67, in Montreal. He was a signatory of the 1948 Prisme d’Yeux manifesto.
Archipenko, Alexander (Russian/American, 1887–1964)
A highly influential Cubist sculptor, introduced to the movement by Fernand Léger after moving from Moscow to Paris in 1908. Archipenko’s early work expresses the materiality of and contrast between positive and negative space; like Pablo Picasso, he created sculptural assemblages of found materials.
Arman (French/American, 1928–2005)
A sculptor and painter born Armand Fernandez in France, whose work became increasingly experimental over the course of his career. Arman was affiliated with the Nouveau réalisme movement of the 1960s, and he is best known for his “accumulations” of objects.
Presented in New York, Chicago, and Boston in 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art, or the Armory Show, marked a seminal moment in America’s modern art movement. Introducing progressive American artists and the European avant-garde for the first time to a wide U.S. audience, the exhibition featured the works of hundreds of artists, many of which were considered shocking at the time.
Art Association of Montreal
Founded in 1860 as an offshoot of the Montreal Society of Artists (itself dating to 1847), the Art Association of Montreal became the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1947. The MMFA is now a major international museum, with more than 760,000 visitors annually.
A decorative style of the early twentieth century, first exhibited in Paris in 1925 at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. The style had several influences, including Egyptian and Asian motifs, modernist fine art movements, and its design predecessor, Art Nouveau.
Thriving in Europe and the United States from the late nineteenth century until the First World War, this decorative style, characterized by flowing organic shapes and serpentine lines, had an impact on architecture and on graphic and decorative arts in particular, though its influence is also reflected in painting and sculpture.
Art Students League of New York
A progressive art school established by artists for artists in 1875. By the turn of the twentieth century the Art Students League was attracting many students who would become central figures in contemporary American art. Teachers included William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, and Robert Henri.
A gallery or other art space developed and run by artists. In Canada these include YYZ, Art Metropole, Forest City Gallery, Western Front, and formerly 20/20 Gallery, The Region Gallery, and Garret Gallery. Not-for-profit organizations, these centres exist outside the commercial and institutional gallery system. They aim to support the production and exhibition of new art works, dialogue between artists, and avant-garde practices and emerging artists.
Artists’ Jazz Band
A free-jazz group active in the 1960s and 1970s, consisting mostly of artists—who were largely self-taught musicians—associated with Abstract Expressionism. Founded in Toronto in 1962 by Dennis Burton and Richard Gorman, the AJB had a roster of players that over time included Graham Coughtry, Harvey Cowan, Terry Forster, Jim Jones, Nobuo Kubota, Robert Markle, Gerald McAdam, Gordon Rayner, Bill Smith, and Michael Snow.
Arts and Crafts
A precursor to modernist design, this decorative arts movement developed in the mid-nineteenth century in England in response to what its proponents saw as the dehumanizing effects of industrialization. Spearheaded by William Morris, the Arts and Crafts movement valued craftsmanship and simplicity of form and frequently incorporated nature motifs in the design of ordinary objects.
Arts and Letters Club of Toronto
A Toronto-based club established in 1908 to promote culture, it provided a space in which artists, architects, writers, musicians, and art patrons could practise and perform their art as well as engage in discussion in a convivial atmosphere. Founding members of the Group of Seven frequently met there to relax, exhibit, and promote their work. The club, which still operates today, was originally male-only; however on February 19, 1985, female members began to be admitted.
Arts Club of Montreal
Founded in 1912 by a group of successful artists, sculptors, architects, and writers of high social status and modelled on the English gentlemen’s clubs of London in the nineteenth century. Notable members were architect William Maxwell Sutherland (founder and first president); painter and professor of art history, William Brymner; Maurice Cullen; A.Y. Jackson; Henri Hébert; Alfred Laliberté; and James Wilson Morrice. In 1996 the membership was opened to women. The club is now a professional association representing a wide range of artists.
The national visual-arts periodical Canadian Art has gone through several name changes since it was founded in 1940. First called Maritime Art, it became Canadian Art in 1943; in 1967, its editor changed its name to artscanada. It became Canadian Art again in 1983.
A group of New York–based American painters—principally George Bellows, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John French Sloan—active from around 1908 to the First World War, interested in depicting scenes of daily urban life, including slum life and marginalized populations.
Ashevak, Arnaqu (Canadian, 1956–2009)
Most widely known for his carvings, Arnaqu was also a printmaker and graphic artist. He was an adopted son of famed first-generation Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak and engraver and carver Johniebo Ashevak.
Ashevak, Kenojuak (Canadian, 1927–2013)
Born on south Baffin Island, this graphic artist largely represented Inuit art in Canada and internationally from the 1960s onward. The recipient of numerous commissions from federal and public institutions, including Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Canada Post, and VIA Rail, her captivating images of animal and human figures are among the most recognizable in Canadian art history.
Ashoona, Goota (Canadian, b. 1967)
A third-generation artist from Cape Dorset, Goota Ashoona is a carver of traditional Inuit whalebone and stone sculptures. In 2008 the family studio held the exhibition The Gift from Haida Gwaii, which included a two-metre-high piece collaboratively carved from a single whale’s rib.
Ashoona, Kiugak (Canadian, 1933–2014)
A master carver of traditional Inuit sculpture, Kiugak Ashoona received the Order of Canada in 2000 and is among the most significant figures in contemporary northern art. A second-generation Inuit artist, he was one of Pitseolak Ashoona’s sons. A retrospective exhibition of his decades-long career was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010.
Ashoona, Mayoreak (Canadian, b. 1946)
A graphic artist and master carver whose mother was the pioneering graphic artist Sheouak Parr. After the death of her husband, the carver Qaqaq Ashoona, Mayoreak moved from their camp on southern Baffin Island to Cape Dorset. Her work has been exhibited in Germany and Japan, as well as across Canada.
Ashoona, Napachie (Canadian, b. 1974)
A carver from Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, Napachie Ashoona is the son of the artists Sorosilutu and Kiugak Ashoona. His figurative sculptures are carved from serpentine, a stone indigenous to Baffin Island, and explore movement and traditional themes, including hunting, drum dancing, and familial bonds.
Ashoona, Ohito (Canadian, b. 1952)
An acclaimed carver and expert hunter from Cape Dorset, Ohito Ashoona is the son of Qaqaq Ashoona. He learned his art form at age twelve and in 2002 was awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the visual arts.
Ashoona, Pitseolak (Canadian, c. 1904–1983)
A major figure in the history of Cape Dorset graphic art, Pitseolak made well over eight thousand drawings during her twenty-five-year career. Beginning in 1960, her enormously popular, frequently autobiographical images were included in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection yearly. She bore seventeen children, and many became significant artists in their own right. (See Pitseolak Ashoona: Life & Work by Christine Lalonde.)
Ashoona, Qaqaq (1928–1996)
A hunter and trapper born in Ikirasak, a camp on southern Baffin Island, who began carving in his mid-twenties. Qaqaq Ashoona carved his human and animal figures using only hand tools and notably worked in a local white marble. He was married to the artist Mayureak Ashoona and was one of Pitseolak Ashoona’s sons.
Ashoona, Shuvinai (Canadian, b. 1961)
A third-generation artist from Cape Dorset, Shuvinai Ashoona creates unconventional and imaginative graphic works that are widely collected and exhibited. Her work ranges from intensely coloured and intricate coloured pencil drawings to boldly graphic stonecuts and monochromatic ink drawings of simple, isolated forms.
Ashoona, Sorosilutu (Canadian, b. 1941)
A prominent Cape Dorset artist who was encouraged as a young woman by her mother-in-law, Pitseolak Ashoona. Early on, Sorosilutu Ashoona was drawn to the colours that could be achieved through printmaking techniques. Her lithographs, stonecuts, and stencils often refer to Inuit stories familiar from her youth.
An assemblage, collage, or bricolage is a three-dimensional artwork created from found objects. The term “assemblage” was first used in the 1950s by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe his butterfly-wing collages; it was popularized in the United States in reference to the work of the American artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jim Dine.
astral plane/astral world
Terms used in certain mystical traditions to refer to subtle, spiritual realms that correspond to yet are more refined than the physical realm.
Also referred to as astral projection, this is a mystic concept of shifting one’s consciousness to ever-higher planes of existence.
Ateliers d’art sacré
Founded in 1919 by Maurice Denis and Georges Desvallières, the Ateliers trained artists to produce religious decoration for churches—particularly those destroyed in the First World War. This Paris-based initiative helped to renew interest in Christian art in France.
Atkins, Caven (Canadian, 1907–2000)
Born in London, Ontario, and raised on the Prairies, this Canadian painter, printmaker, and commercial artist studied under Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald in Winnipeg and was also influenced by German Expressionism. As a commercial artist, Atkins worked alongside Bertram Brooker and Charles Comfort. From 1943 to 1945, he was the president of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.
Realism was embraced by several important Nova Scotian painters in the mid- and late twentieth century, including Miller Brittain, Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt, Alex Colville, and Tom Forrestall. It remains an important variety of Canadian Maritime art.
A physiological term first applied to art by the Surrealists to refer to processes such as free association and spontaneous, intuitive writing, drawing, and painting that allow access to the subconscious without the interference of planning or controlled thought.
A Montreal-based artists’ group interested in Surrealism and the Surrealist technique of automatism. Centred on the artist, teacher, and theorist Paul-Émile Borduas, the Automatistes exhibited regularly between 1946 and 1954, making Montreal a locus of mid-century avant-garde art. Members included Marcel Barbeau, Marcelle Ferron, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Fernand Leduc, and Françoise Sullivan.
Ayearst, Sheila (Canadian, b. 1951)
A Toronto-based artist whose paintings—often based on photographs—express concerns about differing versions of reality and the sometimes frightening aspects of “normal” spaces. Since 1977 Ayearst’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in Ontario, in Quebec, and internationally.