Glossary

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
cabinet card
A card-mounted photograph used almost exclusively for portraiture, similar in style and purpose to cartes-de-visite but larger and popularized later. Cabinet card prints were originally albumen but were later produced using the gelatin silver, collodion, platinum, or carbon process. 
Cahén, Oscar (Danish/Canadian, 1916–1956)
Born in Copenhagen, Cahén attended the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts and taught design, illustration, and painting at Prague’s Rotter School of Graphic Arts before his family’s anti-Nazi activities forced him to flee to England. He was deported to Canada as an enemy alien and settled in Montreal before moving to Toronto in 1943; he was one of the founders of Painters Eleven in 1953.
Calgary Group
A group of artists important to the history of modern art in Canada. The Calgary Group promoted non-objective art in Western Canada in the late 1940s, at the same time that Paul-Émile Borduas and the Automatistes advocated for its legitimacy in Quebec and elsewhere.
camera lucida
A drawing aid popular in the early nineteenth century, which projects the object to be drawn onto a piece of paper by means of a prism. It was patented in 1807 by William Hyde Wollaston and famously used by William Henry Fox Talbot, whose poor drawing skills partly motivated his early experiments in photography.
Camus, Albert (French, 1913–1960)
A major writer and intellectual of the twentieth century, Camus’s work was infused with philosophy and revolutionary politics and profoundly influenced by his upbringing in Algeria (then a French territory). He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1957, at the age of 44.
Canada Council for the Arts
A Crown corporation created in 1957 by the parliamentary Canada Council for the Arts Act. The Canada Council exists to encourage art production and promote the study and enjoyment of art in Canada. It provides support to artists and arts organizations from across all artistic disciplines, including visual art, dance, music, and literature.
Canadian Artists ’68
A juried exhibition of Canadian art held at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1968. Prizes were adjudicated by a panel of internationally renowned artists in several categories, including painting and film.
Canadian Filmmakers Distribution Centre
A non-commercial film distributor dedicated to experimental cinema, founded in 1967 in Toronto. The CFMDC’s collection includes works in Super 8, 16mm, 35mm, and video and digital formats by those filmmakers considered most important to the development of avant-garde cinema in Canada. It is the largest distributor of its kind in the country.
Canadian Group of Painters
Founded in 1933 after the disbanding of the Group of Seven, by former members and their associates, the Canadian Group of Painters championed modernist painting styles against the entrenched traditionalism of the Royal Canadian Academy. They provided a platform for artists across Canada who were pursuing a variety of new concerns, from the formal experimentation of Bertram Brooker to the modern figure subjects of Prudence Heward and Pegi Nicol MacLeod, and the expressive landscapes of Emily Carr.
Canadian Guild of Crafts
Established in 1906, this Montreal-based organization preserves, promotes, and distributes Inuit and First Nations art and fine crafts in Canada. It also houses a permanent collection of Inuit art.
Canadian National Exhibition (CNE)
An annual fair held in Toronto, founded as the Toronto Industrial Exhibition in 1879. The CNE produced art exhibitions and catalogues annually until 1961, except during and immediately following the Second World War.
Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour
An organization launched in 1925 to promote work in watercolour. Founding members included influential figures in the history of Canadian art, such as Franklin Carmichael and C.W. Jefferys. A prestigious group with links to major Canadian art institutions in its early days, it currently manages, along with five other societies, its own gallery in downtown Toronto.
Caniff, Milton (American, 1907–1988)
A prolific twentieth-century cartoonist and founder of the National Cartoonists Society. Caniff’s nationally syndicated comic strip Dickie Dare, produced for the Associated Press, led to a position at the Chicago-Tribune and New York Daily News, where he developed the popular strip Terry and the Pirates.
Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection
Established in 1959, this is the annual release of prints created by artists in the printmaking section of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (now Kinngait Studios). Prints have been distributed in the art market of the South by Dorset Fine Arts, which markets Inuit art to galleries and institutions.
CARFAC (Canadian Artists’ Representation)
A national non-profit artists’ organization that serves to protect the economic and intellectual property rights of its members and to promote the visual arts in Canada. CARFAC was founded in 1968 by London artists Jack Chambers, Tony Urquhart, and Kim Ondaatje; it currently has around four thousand members.
Carmen Lamanna Gallery, Toronto
A Toronto gallery opened in 1966 by the Italian emigré Carmen Lamanna, a near-mythic figure in the Canadian art scene for more than three decades. The gallery’s stable included many of the most important and cutting-edge artists of its day, from Ron Martin, Ian Carr-Harris, and Paterson Ewen to General Idea and Joanne Tod.
Carmichael, Franklin (Canadian, 1890–1945)
An original member of the Group of Seven, Carmichael created landscapes in watercolour as well as in oil. He was a founding member of the Canadian Group of Painters and the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour. Like so many of his colleagues, he earned his living primarily as a commercial artist and, in 1932, he became head of the Graphic Design and Commercial Art Department at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University).
Carr, Emily (Canadian, 1871–1945)
A pre-eminent B.C.–based artist and writer, Carr is renowned today for her bold and vibrant images of both the Northwest Coast landscape and its Native peoples. Educated in California, England, and France, she was influenced by a variety of modern art movements but ultimately developed a unique aesthetic style. She was one of the first West Coast artists to achieve national recognition. (See Emily Carr: Life & Work by Lisa Baldissera.)
carte-de-visite
A card-mounted photograph, roughly the size and shape of a playing card, produced in multiple using a multi-lens camera. Patented by A.A.E. Disdéri in Paris in 1854, cartes-de-visite were largely intended as photographic calling cards; they depicted sitters according to nearly universal conventions.
casein
A milk phosphoprotein, casein is strongly adhesive and commonly employed as glue or as a binding ingredient in paint. Casein paint is used as an alternative to tempera. 
Cassatt, Mary (American, 1844–1926)
Mentored by Edgar Degas, Cassatt painted figurative work, often featuring women and children. Her paintings were shown regularly at the Salon in Paris. She was the only American painter officially associated with the French Impressionists. 
catalogue raisonné
A comprehensive scholarly listing of an artist’s entire oeuvre, with information including the medium, date, dimensions, provenance, and exhibition history of each artwork. Catalogues raisonnés are indispensible tools for advancing the understanding of individual artists’ life work. 
Catlin, George (American, 1796–1872)
A painter, writer, and traveller passionately devoted to the subject of American Aboriginal culture. Hundreds of Catlin’s ethnographic paintings—some of which garnered high praise from contemporary critics, including Charles Baudelaire—are now held by the Smithsonian Institution and the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. 
cavalier perspective
Cavalier perspective, also called isometric perspective or oblique projection, is a painting or drawing technique that makes use of an elevated point of view, showing objects or scenes from above in a three-dimensional view. The technique is also used in mechanical drawing.
Cera, René (French, 1895–1992)
Originally from Nice, where he had contact with Pierre August Renoir and was a student of Henri Matisse at the Nice School of Art, Cera moved to Canada in 1928 to work as an architectural designer for the T. Eaton Company. Cera was also a painter, and his paintings are owned by institutions in Canada and the United States.
César (French, 1921–1998)
A sculptor associated with Nouveau réalisme, César Baldaccini often used scrap materials, including lead, copper pipe, and metal car parts (as in his controversial sculpture of a crushed automobile, Compression, 1960). In their simplicity, his sculptures of the 1950s and early 1960s are considered to have prefigured Minimalism.
Cézanne, Paul (French, 1839–1906)
A painter of arguably unparalleled influence on the development of modern art, associated with the Post-Impressionist school and known for his technical experiments with colour and form and his interest in multiple-point perspective. In his maturity Cézanne had several preferred subjects, including portraits of his wife, still lifes, and Provençal landscapes.
Chagall, Marc (Russian/French, 1887–1985)
A painter and graphic artist, Chagall’s work is characterized by colourful, dreamlike images and a defiance of the rules of pictorial logic. Although he employed elements of Cubism, Fauvism, and Symbolism, Chagall did not formally align with any avant-garde movement.
Chambers, Jack (Canadian, 1931–1978)
A London, Ontario, painter and avant-garde filmmaker, whose meditative paintings typically depict domestic subjects. Chambers was committed to regionalism, despite the international outlook he developed during five years of artistic training in Madrid. He was one of the founders of CARFAC, Canada’s artists’ rights protection agency. (See Jack Chambers: Life & Work by Mark Cheetham.)
Chapman, Christian (Anishinaabe/Canadian, b. 1975)
A Northern Ontario–based mixed-media artist who fuses computer-manipulated images, painting, drawing, and printmaking, Chapman conjures images from storytelling to explore culture and identity in his work.
Chardin, Jean-Baptiste-Siméon (French, 1699–1779)
A French painter renowned for his genre scenes and still lifes. His lowly subject matter was at odds with the Rococo style that prevailed in the Paris of his day, yet he was a star of the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture and his works were in high demand around Europe. Chardin never left Paris; his knowledge of art derived solely from what he was able to see in his city.
Chauchetière, Claude (French, 1645–1709)
A Jesuit priest, artist, author, and teacher of mathematics born in Aquitaine. By 1677 Chauchetière had arrived in New France to do missionary work; he spent sixteen years at La Prairie, working to convert Iroquois peoples and serving as pastor to French families.
Chee Chee, Benjamin (Ojibway/Canadian, 1944–1977)
A painter and prominent member of the Woodland School. Influenced by modern abstract movements and known for his spare representations of birds and animals, Chee Chee painted in a style more abstract and graphic than that of his Woodland School contemporaries.
Cheney, Nan (Canadian, 1897–1985)
A well-known B.C. portrait painter, Cheney was the first staff medical artist at the University of British Columbia, creating anatomical images for the Faculty of Medicine from 1951 to 1962. She moved to Vancouver in 1937. Cheney met and corresponded with many Canadian artists and enjoyed a close friendship with Emily Carr in the period before Carr’s work gained general acceptance. She collected material about Carr until December 1979. Her correspondence with artists has been collected in Dear Nan: Letters from Emily Carr, Nan Cheney and Humphrey Toms, ed. Doreen Walker.
Chevreul, Michel-Eugène (French, 1786–1889)
A chemist whose work on colour perception had a great impact on the development of Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism at the end of the nineteenth century. Chevreul’s hypotheses arose from his observations as director of the Gobelins dye-works in Paris.
chiaroscuro
A term that refers, at its most general, to an artist’s use of light and dark and the visual effects thus produced in a painting, engraving, or drawing. Chiaroscuro can serve to create atmosphere, describe volume, and imitate natural light effects. From the Italian chiaro (light) and scuro (dark).
Chicago, Judy (American, b. 1939)
A painter, sculptor, and educator, and an important feminist artist and intellectual. Chicago explores the role of women in art history and contemporary culture. Her best-known work, The Dinner Party, 1974–79, commemorates thirty-nine historically significant women with specially designed place settings for each one at a vast triangular table.
chromolithograph
A colour lithograph, popular from the mid-nineteenth century for book illustrations and print portfolios. Chromolithographs were produced through the use of numerous lithographic stones, each of which was inked with one of the colours needed for the final print. 
Clark, William (American, 1770–1838)
Although remembered largely for his leading role in the Lewis and Clark expedition to the Pacific Northwest (1803–6), Clark served as an Indian Affairs agent for over thirty years. As the U.S. government’s representative to nearly all the tribes in the West, he negotiated treaties and supervised numerous land cessions.
Clarke, Shirley (American, 1919–1997)
An important figure in American avant-garde cinema in the 1950s, and one of the New York scene’s few women filmmakers. In the 1960s Clarke pursued social concerns with her documentary filmmaking; her 1967 film Portrait of Jason is considered a watershed in the history of LGBT film.
Clench, Harriet (Canadian, 1823–1892)
A watercolourist and oil painter whose practice spanned almost forty years. Clench’s preferred subjects were landscapes, flowers, and figures. She assisted her husband, Paul Kane, in organizing his field sketches for an exhibition at Toronto City Hall in 1848. In 1849 she participated in the Upper Canada Provincial Exhibition.
Close, Chuck (American, b. 1940)
An artist widely renowned for his enormous Photorealist portraits, created through a painstaking process that involves breaking up his subject into gridded increments and then methodically recreating it on canvas. In addition to painting he has mastered an array of printmaking and photographic techniques.
Coach House Press
Established in 1965 and housed in a coach house in downtown Toronto, this printing press is also a long-standing independent Canadian publisher, primarily known for its printing business and its fiction and poetry. Michael Ondaatje, Andre Alexis, Anne Michaels, Christian Bök, and Guy Maddin are prominent Canadian writers who have been published by the press.
Cobiness, Eddy (Ojibway/Canadian, 1933–1996)
An original member of the Professional Native Indian Artists Inc., Cobiness was associated with the Woodland School and is noted for having signed his paintings with his nation’s treaty number (47). Early in his career he painted realistic scenes of outdoor life and nature. His later work tended toward the abstract.
Coen, Joel (American, b. 1954), and Ethan Coen (American, b. 1957)
Known as “the Coen brothers,” this sibling duo has written, directed, and produced some of the most widely admired and commercially successful films in contemporary cinema, including Fargo (1996), The Big Lebowski (1998), and No Country for Old Men (2007). They work across genres and often with the same actors.
colour theory
A collection of ideas and concepts—scientific, philosophical, and psychological—related to human perception of colour. For centuries, painters have looked to colour theory for practical guidance on how to create specific effects in their works, and several modern art movements, including Pointillism, Orphism, and Synchronism, are rooted in specific theories of colour.
colour-field painting
A term first used to describe Abstract Expressionist works that use simplified or minimalist forms of flat or nuanced colour, as in paintings by Morris Louis. It was later applied to works by such artists as Kenneth Noland and Barnett Newman in the United States and Jack Bush in Canada, whose geometric or abstract motifs highlight variations in colour. Post-Painterly Abstraction, a description coined by the critic Clement Greenberg, includes colour-field painting.
Colville, Alex (Canadian, 1920–2013)
A painter, muralist, draftsman, and engraver whose highly representational images verge on the surreal. Colville’s paintings typically depict everyday scenes of rural Canadian life imbued with an uneasy quality. Since his process was meticulous—the paint applied dot by dot—he produced only three or four paintings or serigraphs per year.
Comfort, Charles (Canadian, 1900–1994)
A major figure in twentieth-century Canadian art, who began his career as a commercial artist. He took up painting in his twenties, and became a member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour and the Canadian Group of Painters. Comfort served as director of the National Gallery of Canada from 1959 to 1965.
composite negative
A photographic negative made by combining several negatives. Composite negatives were largely a phenomenon of the nineteenth century, when technological limitations made it impossible to capture different areas of a particular scene—such as sea and sky—at once. 
composite photograph
Created by photographers using a cut-and-paste technique, primarily in the nineteenth century—when exposure times were long and outdoor photography was difficult—composite photographs were a means of guaranteeing that each figure in a group photograph was sharp, visible, well posed, and had a pleasing facial expression.  
Conceptual art
Traced to the work of Marcel Duchamp but not codified until the 1960s, Conceptual art is a general term for art that emphasizes ideas over form. The finished product may even be physically transient, as with land art or performance art. 
Concours artistiques de la province de Québec, Les
In 1945 the first Grand Prize in Painting was awarded in the Quebec Provincial Art Competition, held annually until 1970 (though some years were missed). The competition included an annual exhibition at the Musée de la province de Québec (today the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec). The regulations required that the artworks that won first prizes in painting, sculpture, and decorative arts were purchased for the museum’s collection.
Conference of Canadian Artists (Kingston Conference)
A conference organized by the painter André Biéler in 1941 in Kingston, Ontario, attended by some 150 visual artists, writers, poets, and others interested in the arts in Canada. Among those present were Lawren Harris, Elizabeth Wyn Wood, Arthur Lismer, Alma Duncan, F.R. Scott, Miller Brittain, Walter Abell, A.Y. Jackson, and the American painter Thomas Hart Benton. Based on Biéler’s recommendation for a national federation of artists and on other initiatives of the conference, the Federation of Canadian Artists was set up; the visual arts magazine Canadian Art was launched; and in 1957 the Canada Council for the Arts was created.
Constable, John (British, 1776–1837)
Viewed today, along with William J.M. Turner, as one of the greatest British landscape and sky painters of the nineteenth century. Constable painted mostly in his native region of Suffolk and the surrounding areas. He took a more expressive approach to his paintings than many of his predecessors and contemporaries.
Constructivism
Emerging in Russia in the early 1920s, Constructivism was an artistic trend that championed a materialist, non-emotional, utilitarian approach to art and linked art to design, industry, and social usefulness. The term continues to be used generally to describe abstract art that employs lines, planes, and other visual elements in composing abstract geometric images of a precise and impersonal nature.
Contemporary Arts Society
Founded in 1939 by John Lyman, this Montreal-based society promoted a non-academic approach to modernist art and linked artistic culture in Quebec to contemporary life. Early members included Stanley Cosgrove, Paul-Émile Borduas, and Jack Humphrey. 
Conti, Tito (Italian, 1842–1924)
A painter of genre scenes and figures known for his exquisite draftsmanship. His work is characterized by intense colours and graceful figures. He trained at the Institute of Fine Arts in Florence, where he lived throughout his life.
Copyright Act of Canada
Federal statute protecting “every original literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic work” from unlawful reproduction. First passed in 1921, when it was modelled on the British Copyright Act of 1911, the Act has since been amended three times, with new technology among the chief reasons for reform.
Corot, Jean-Baptiste-Camille (French, 1796–1875)
Although known today as a landscape painter—among the most influential of the nineteenth century—and the leading member of the Barbizon School of French nature painters, Corot rose to prominence in his own time for the Romantic tableaux he exhibited regularly at the Paris Salon.
Cosgrove, Stanley (Canadian, 1911–2002)
A painter, fresco artist, and draftsman who returned repeatedly to the same few subjects and genres over his seventy-year career, particularly forests, women, and still lifes. In the 1940s he studied in Mexico City and apprenticed with the celebrated muralist José Clemente Orozco, an experience that would have a lasting impact on Cosgrove’s style.
Coughtry, Graham (Canadian, 1931–1999)
An influential painter and teacher known for his conceptual use of colour, expressive brushwork, and abstract representations of the human figure. Coughtry’s first exhibition was with Michael Snow in 1955; he went on to represent Canada at the Bienal de São Paulo of 1959 and the Venice Biennale of 1960. 
Courbet, Gustave (French, 1819–1877)
A critical figure in nineteenth-century art, whose paintings—most famously Burial at Ornans, 1850, and The Painter’s Studio, 1854–55—helped established the Realist movement and paved the way for later artists, including the Impressionists, to abandon classical subjects for those they encountered in their daily lives.
Courtice, Rody Kenny (Canadian, 1891–1973)
A painter trained at the Art Institute of Chicago and the Ontario College of Art, and the latter’s first female student. Inspired by the Group of Seven and Hans Hoffman, she frequently painted landscapes and farms, but also worked in an abstract mode. Courtice was a member of associations, including the Royal Canadian Academy and the Federation of Canadian Artists; a solo exhibition of her work was held at Victoria College in 1951.
cowrie shell
A small shell, called the megis in the Anishinaabe tradition. The cowrie shell is an important symbol in Anishinaabe legends and is thought of as a source of strength and healing.
Cruikshank, William (Scottish, 1848–1922)
A Scottish-born educator and portrait, figure, and scene painter who immigrated to Canada in 1871. Cruikshank was a long-time instructor at the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University). Many painters who themselves became notable and influential Canadian artists studied under Cruikshank, including Franklin Carmichael, Frank Johnston, J.E.H. MacDonald, and, it seems, Tom Thomson too.
Cubism
A radical style of painting developed by Pablo Picasso and Georges Braque in Paris between 1907 and 1914, defined by the representation of numerous perspectives at once. Cubism is considered crucial to the history of modern art for its enormous international impact; famous practitioners also include Juan Gris and Francis Picabia.
Cullen, Maurice (Canadian, 1866–1934)
Like many Canadian painters of his generation, Maurice Cullen received his early art education in Montreal, then moved to Paris to continue his studies at the Académie Julian, the Colarossi Studio, and the Paris École des beaux-arts. He was influenced by Impressionism and his landscapes, in turn, influenced a younger generation of Canadian painters, including the Group of Seven. His winter landscapes and snowy urban scenes are considered his most impressive achievement.
Cumming, Robert (American, b. 1943)
An artist and educator whose technical mastery extends to photography, printmaking, painting, and sculpture. Among his best-known works are photographs of his own conceptual drawings and constructions—intellectually layered, witty works that refer to science and art history. He has taught art at universities around the United States since the 1960s.
Curley, Koomuatuk Sapa (Canadian, b. 1984)
A carver of soapstone sculptures of Arctic animals who learned his art form at the age of six from Qaqaq Ashoona. With his cousin Joe Ashoona, Koomuatuk Sapa Curley represents a new generation of artists engaged with traditional Inuit forms and materials.
Curnoe, Greg (Canadian, 1936–1992)
A central figure in London regionalism from the 1960s to the early 1990s, Curnoe was a painter, printmaker, and graphic artist who found inspiration in his life and his Southwestern Ontario surroundings. His wide-ranging art interests included Surrealism, Dada, Cubism, and the work of many individual artists, both historical and contemporary. (See Greg Curnoe: Life & Work by Judith Rodger.)
Curry, John (American, 1897–1946)
A Kansas-born illustrator, painter, and lithographer of academic genre scenes and landscapes inspired by his Midwestern home. Along with artists like Thomas Hart Benton and Grant Wood, Curry epitomized American regionalism of the 1930s and 1940s.
Curtis, Edward (American, 1868–1952)
A commercial photographer known for his portraits of Native Americans, which he published in the twenty-volume North American Indian between 1907 and 1930. More Pictorialist than documentary, these images often recorded customs and costumes that had already vanished from the cultures depicted.