A multi-disciplinary movement that arose in Europe in response to the horrors of the First World War, whose adherents aimed to deconstruct and demolish traditional societal values and institutions. Artworks, often collages and readymades, typically scorned fine materials and craftsmanship. Chief Dadaists include Marcel Duchamp, Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters, and Hans Arp.
Among the earliest type of photograph, the finely detailed daguerreotype image is formed on the mirrored surface of a sheet of silver-plated copper. The process is extremely complex and finicky, but these photographs were nonetheless phenomenally popular from their invention, by Louis Daguerre in 1839, until the 1850s.
Dair, Carl (Canadian, 1912–1967)
A distinguished Canadian designer, Carl Dair was also an internationally recognized typographer, teacher, and writer. He believed in typography as a significant feature of communication and designed Cartier, the first Canadian typeface. His influential book, Design with Type, was published in 1952.
Dalí, Salvador (Spanish, 1904–1989)
The star of the Surrealists and one of his era’s most exuberant personalities, Dalí is best known for his naturalistically rendered dreamscapes. The Persistence of Memory, 1931, with its melting clock faces, remains one of the twentieth century’s most parodied artworks.
Dasburg, Andrew (American, 1887–1979)
A modernist painter who was influenced by Paul Cézanne and Cubism. Dasburg taught Kathleen Munn when she attended the Art Students League summer school in Woodstock, New York.
Daumier, Honoré (French, 1808–1879)
A prominent artist in politically tumultuous nineteenth-century Paris, known primarily as a satirist. Daumier’s published drawings and lithographs viciously mocked political figures and the bourgeoisie, for which he was jailed for six months in 1832–33. He also helped develop the genre of caricature sculpture.
Davidson, Michael (Canadian, b. 1953)
A Toronto-based painter of large, emotionally intense canvases who often uses a reduced palette dominated by black and white, recalling the abstraction of Robert Motherwell and Helen Frankenthaler.
de Brébeuf, Jean (French, 1593–1649)
A Jesuit priest and linguist who arrived in New France in 1625. He worked to convert the Montagnais, Huron, and Iroquois peoples over the next two decades, eventually learning the Huron language and creating a Huron grammar and dictionary. He was killed by the Iroquois in 1649 and canonized in 1930.
de Kooning, Willem (Dutch/American, 1904–1997)
Although a prominent Abstract Expressionist, de Kooning was not concerned with strict abstraction—figures appear in the dense and riotous brushwork that characterizes much of his work. Among his most famous works are those of the Women series, first exhibited in 1953 to much critical scorn.
de Lempicka, Tamara (Polish-Russian, 1898–1980)
An Art Deco painter, primarily of portraits of those in her circle of artists and socialites. Her work is known for its precise lines, elegance, and decadence. De Lempicka, who emigrated from Russia to Paris and later to the United States, was also famed for her glamour, parties, and unconventional romantic relationships.
Debassige, Blake (Ojibway/Canadian, b. 1956)
A painter associated with the second generation of Woodland School artists, Debassige uses a graphic style to explore the intersection of Anishinaabe cosmology and teachings with contemporary social and environmental concerns.
Degas, Edgar (French, 1834–1917)
A painter, sculptor, printmaker, and draftsman, aligned with but separate from the Impressionist movement, frequently departing from its norms: Degas was not interested in changing atmospheric effects and rarely painted outdoors. Characteristic subjects include the ballet, theatre, cafés, and women at their toilette.
Delaunay, Robert (French, 1885–1941)
The first truly abstract painter in France. Delaunay’s interest in colour theory—including how colours interact and relate to music and movement—is manifest in almost all of his work. Dubbed Orphism by Guillaume Apollinaire, his style influenced numerous artists and artistic movements, including German Expressionism, Futurism, and Synchromism.
Delaunay, Sonia (Russian, 1885–1979)
A painter and textile designer, Sonia Delaunay was married to Robert Delaunay, with whom she developed Orphism. A leader in the fashion industry during the 1920s, she returned to painting after the collapse of her design business during the Depression. In the 1930s she was associated with the Abstraction-Création group.
Delva, Thierry (Belgian/Canadian, b. 1955)
A sculptor and conceptual artist concerned with issues raised by twentieth-century modernism, including (self-)referentiality, content and form, and material. His work is exhibited regularly throughout Canada. He is a professor at NSCAD University in Halifax.
Denis, Maurice (French, 1870–1943)
A painter, printmaker, designer, and influential theorist whose ideas contributed to the development of the anti-naturalist aesthetic of modernism. Denis was a founding member of the Nabis, an avant-garde artists’ group active in Paris from 1888 to 1900, and is also well known for his later, overtly religious works.
Descent from the Cross
A panel painting, c. 1440, by the great Netherlandish artist Rogier van der Weyden, held by the Museo del Prado, Madrid. Considered an example of Van der Weyden’s remarkable refinement and spirituality, it is one of the most influential depictions of the Descent of its school.
It is now known that “Monsù Desiderio” was in fact two artists, François de Nomé (French, around 1593–after 1644) and Didier Barra (French, c. 1590–1650). Natives of Metz living in Naples, they occasionally worked together. Barra primarily painted views of Naples, while de Nomé is known for his paintings of architecture, ruins, and fantastical buildings.
Desvallières, Georges (French, 1861–1950)
A painter heavily influenced early in his career by the Symbolist Gustave Moreau. Desvallières’s later work portrayed daily life. Still later he concentrated on painting religious subjects; in 1919 he founded the Ateliers d’art sacré with Maurice Denis.
Dewdney, Selwyn (Canadian, 1909–1979)
An artist, teacher, and writer based in London, Ontario, active in the development of the local arts scene at mid-century. One the first Canadians to produce abstract paintings, he was also a scholar of indigenous art and the co-developer of the country’s first psychiatric art therapy program.
Diaghilev, Sergei (Russian, 1872–1929)
A renowned art critic and impresario, and founder of the Ballets Russes. This innovative company, founded in Paris in 1909, was a watershed in the development of modern performance, bringing artists from all disciplines—many now iconic figures in twentieth-century art—to collaborate in its productions.
Dickinson, Sterling (American, 1909–1998)
Born in Chicago and educated at prestigious schools in the United States and France, Dickinson travelled to Mexico in 1934 and subsequently spent most of his life there. He became director of the Escuela Universitaria de Bellas Artes in San Miguel de Allende and helped to establish the town as a hub of expatriate American artistic life.
Dix, Otto (German, 1891–1969)
An Expressionist painter and printmaker who created harshly satirical, sometimes grotesque depictions of figures from Weimar Germany, Dix was a pioneer of the Neue Sachlichkeit (New Objectivity) movement. War, prostitution, and human depravity were central themes of his work.
One of the world’s longest-running international art events and most important recurrent exhibitions of modern and contemporary art. It launched in 1955 in Kassel, Germany, with the primary intention of reintegrating Germany into the international art scene after the Second World War. It takes place in Kassel every five years.
Doig, Peter (British, b. 1959)
An Edinburgh-born artist who lived in Canada during his childhood and youth and later settled in Trinidad, Doig’s paintings command high prices today. Influenced by modernism and popular culture, he uses heightened colour and technique to evoke strange landscapes, often with a human presence and an unsettling, otherworldly mood. He travels widely, always paints in a studio, and often produces works in a series.
Dona, Lydia (Romanian/American, b. 1955)
Dona trained in Jerusalem before moving to New York, where she studied under Keith Haring at the School of Visual Arts. Her brightly coloured paintings straddle the line between abstraction and figuration, rigid geometry and gesture. Graffiti-like forms figure prominently in her canvases.
Dorland, Kim (Canadian, b. 1974)
A Canadian landscape and portrait painter known for his thick, almost sculptural, impasto surfaces. In the 2013–14 exhibition You Are Here: Kim Dorland and the Return to Painting at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, in Kleinburg, Ontario, fifty of his paintings hung alongside works by Tom Thomson, David Milne, and Emily Carr.
Dorset Fine Arts
The wholesale marketing division of the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (now Kinngait Studios), based in Toronto. Established in 1978, Dorset Fine Arts makes available to an international market Inuit sculptures, drawings, and prints.
Dove, Arthur (American, 1880–1946)
An important American modernist and one of the first artists in the United States to create entirely non-representational works. Among Dove’s clear influences are the French avant-garde painters Henri Matisse and Paul Cézanne as well as Cubism and Futurism. His first solo exhibition was held at Alfred Stieglitz’s 291 gallery in New York.
Dreier, Katherine (American, 1877–1952)
A painter, collector, patron, and—following her exposure to the European avant-garde with the 1913 Armory Show—a fierce promoter of modern art in America. To champion this cause, Dreier co-founded the Société Anonyme with Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray in 1920.
Drouin, Michèle (Canadian, b. 1933)
A poet and painter whose early figurative paintings were influenced by Jean Paul Lemieux, with whom she studied at the l’École des Beaux-Arts de Québec in 1951. In the 1970s Drouin turned to abstraction. The discovery of surrealist poetry informed both her writing and her art, which is more sensual than the work of the Plasticiens who were active in Montreal at the time. In 1992 she was named to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.
Du Creux, François (French, 1596–1666)
A priest and historian who entered into the Jesuit order in 1614. He is the author of the Historiae Canadensis, an illustrated history of Canada that Du Creux compiled from conversations with missionaries in New France, including Jean de Brébeuf and Father Paul Le Jeune.
Dubuffet, Jean (French, 1901–1985)
A rebellious avant-garde artist whose career spanned some fifty years and encompassed painting, sculpting, and printmaking. Dubuffet railed against intellectual authority in culture, countering it with art brut (literally, “raw art”). His oeuvre evidences frequent shifts in style and impassioned experimentation.
Duchamp, Marcel (French/American, 1887–1968)
One of the most significant artist-thinkers of the twentieth century, Duchamp influenced Conceptual, Pop, and Minimal art. Best known for the sensational painting Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2, 1912, he is also recognized for his ready-made sculptures, among them the urinal Fountain, 1917, and his “desecrated” Mona Lisa print, Mona Lisa, 1919.
Dumas, Paul (Canadian, 1928–2005)
An art critic, historian, and collector who wrote on such notable Quebec artists as Alfred Pellan, Benoît East, Jean Paul Lemieux, Claude Picher, Paul André, and Jean Dallaire. Dumas was also a medical doctor, with an interest in the role of art in the history of medicine.
Dumouchel, Albert (Canadian, 1916–1971)
A painter, printmaker, and educator. Over the course of his career Dumouchel worked variously in surrealist, abstract, and figurative modes, producing a body of work that reflects the trajectory of modern art in Quebec. In 1948 he signed the Prisme d’Yeux manifesto spearheaded by the painter Alfred Pellan.
Duncan, Douglas (Canadian, 1902–1968)
An early advocate of Canadian art, Duncan was a bookbinder, art dealer, and collector. He was a founder and became director of the Picture Loan Society, which was the first gallery in Canada to facilitate the purchase of art by making works available for lease.
Dunham, Carroll (American, b. 1949)
An abstract painter active since the 1970s in New York, whose early works evoke modernist predecessors such as Arshile Gorky and André Masson. Dunham’s more recent paintings often display cartoon-like forms, lurid colours, and an interest in organic matter.
A design theory developed by Jay Hambidge, which had a profound influence on both abstract and representational painters during the 1920s and 1930s. Dynamic symmetry is a proportioning system, whereby mathematical formulas are the foundation of the proportion and symmetry of classical architecture and various natural structures.