There is a paucity of archival material about Brooker’s career as an artist. A large collection of documents is in the Bertram Brooker fonds at the University of Manitoba Archives and Special Collections (BBF, UMASC), but this holding mainly concerns his life as a writer. It does contain a few documents autobiographical in nature. Even when Brooker wrote what are labelled “diaries,” he gave a fictional name to the author. Brooker’s reflections on art are best expressed in the thirty-two extant letters he wrote to Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald (in the BBF, UMASC).
January, Bertram Brooker, the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
March, two Brooker paintings, including Endless Dawn, were on display at the Ontario Society of Artists, Toronto.
April 9–23, two Brooker paintings, including The Way, were on display at Simpson Galleries, a unjuried exhibition by Toronto artists.
February, two Brooker paintings, including Sounds Assembling, were exhibited with works by the Group of Seven. Brooker also showed with the Group in 1930 and 1931. In 1930, 1931, and 1936 he exhibited with the Royal Canadian Academy and in 1931 at the spring show of the Art Association of Montreal.
March, annual exhibition of the Ontario Society of Artists, Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario). Brooker showed three paintings: Alleluiah, Prelude, and Resolution. A supplementary exhibition, Drawings by Bertram Brooker, consisted of forty items. In addition to the Elijah series, there were items from the Isaiah series, Blake series, and Whitman series. A numbered checklist to these was published with an introduction by Lawren Harris: “Mr. Brooker’s pen drawings are ancient and remote in spirit, as much as they are modern. Like the best of modern art, they seem to embody a reverberation which comes from the spiritual resonance that informs all that is best in the ages.”
March 14–30, Bertram Brooker Abstractions, Hart House Art Gallery, University of Toronto. The eight canvases on display included Evolution, Sounds Assembling, Striving, The Finite Wrestling with the Infinite, Crucifixion, Ascending Forms, and Resolution. The whereabouts and title of the eighth canvas are unknown.
May 18–June 1, An Exhibition of Drawings by Kathleen Munn, LeMoine Fitzgerald, Bertram Brooker, Galleries of J. Merritt Malloney, Toronto.
April, Bertram Brooker, Picture Loan Society, Toronto.
January, Bertram Brooker, Hart House Art Gallery, University of Toronto
September, Bertram Brooker, the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto.
From November 7, Bertram Brooker, Hart House Art Gallery, University of Toronto.
February 17–March 18, Bertram Brooker, O.S.A. (1885 [sic]–1955), Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
October 23–November 6, Bertram Brooker, 1888–1955, The Morris Gallery, Toronto.
Bertram Brooker: A Retrospective Exhibition, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (travelled to the Sarnia Public Library and Art Gallery; London Public Library and Art Museum, Ontario; Sir George Williams University, Montreal; Confederation Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Regina Public Library; and Hart House, University of Toronto).
January 31–April 13, L.L. FitzGerald and Bertram Brooker: Their Drawings, Winnipeg Art Gallery.
March 10–April 22, The Logic of Ecstasy: Canadian Mystical Painting 1920-1940 (group exhibition), London Regional Art and Historical Museums (travelled to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Edmonton Art Gallery; Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton; and Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax).
January 10–March 8, It’s Alive! Bertram Brooker and Vitalism, Art Gallery of Windsor (travelled to the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston, and Museum London, Ontario).
“Biography of a Mind,” 1930. Short story. Box 7, folder 1, BBF, UMASC.
“A Candle in Sunshine.” N.d. Novel. Box 6, folder 1, BBF, UMASC.
“Diary.” 1905. Box 1, folder 16, BBF, UMASC.
“The Measure of Gordon Craig.” N.d. Box 2, folder 1, BBF, UMASC.
“Self-portrait, an Experiment in Autobiography.” 1937. Essay (two drafts). Box 8, folder 3, BBF, UMASC.
“Shorts about Bernard.” 1938. Short story. Box 7, folder 1, BBF, UMASC.
“The World and I—A Voyage of Self-Exploration.” 1934, 1953. Novel. Box 6, folder 2, BBF, UMASC.
Books and Articles
“Canada’s Modern Arts Movement.” The Canadian Forum 6, no. 69 (June 1926): 276–79.
“Painting Verbs.” In Sounds Assembling: The Poetry of Bertram Brooker, edited by Birk Sproxton. Winnipeg: Turnstone, 1980.
“The Poetry of E.E. Cummings.” The Canadian Forum 10, no. 118 (July 1930): 370–71.
The Wrong World: Selected Stories and Essays of Bertram Brooker, edited by Gregory Betts. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 2009.
Yearbook of the Arts in Canada 1928–1929. Editor. Toronto: Macmillan, 1929.
Yearbook of the Arts in Canada 1936. Editor. Toronto: Macmillan, 1936. (And in particular his essay “Art and Society: A General Introduction,” pp. xiii–xxviii).
The Robber. Duell, 1949.
The Tangled Miracle: A Mortimer Hood Mystery. Published under the name Huxley Herne. T. Nelson, 1936.
Think of the Earth. Toronto: Thomas Nelson & Sons, 1936.
Books on Advertising
In addition to these books, all published under the pseudonym Richard Surrey, Brooker wrote a column for Printer’s Ink, a U.S. trade publication.
Copy Technique in Advertising, Including a System of Copy Synthesis: A Classification of Copy Sources, and a Section on Copy Construction. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1930.
Layout Technique in Advertising. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1929.
Subconscious Selling. 1923.
In 1972 Dennis Reid prepared a circulating exhibition for Ottawa’s National Gallery of Canada and wrote an excellent monograph (1973) to accompany it. Some of Reid’s assumptions about Brooker and modernism were challenged in Joyce Zemans’s 1989 article, “First Fruits: The Paintings,” in which she demonstrated that Brooker was aware of various forces in modernism well before his meeting with Lawren Harris in 1923. She showed that Brooker was more cognizant of abstraction than Harris when they met, and her research repositions the relationship between the two artists.
More recently, Ann Davis has written on the intellectual and religious ideas behind Brooker’s abstracts; Glenn Williams, on Brooker and music; Carole Luff, on Brooker and Henri Bergson; Gregory Betts, on Brooker’s place in avant-garde Canadian literature; and Adam Lauder, on Brooker’s extraordinary influence on modern communication studies. Lauder has also written on Brooker’s indebtedness to Bergson’s theory of duration, his film scenarios, his connection to Vorticism, and his place in art history.
Arnason, David. “Reluctant Modernist.” In Sinclair, Provincial Essays, 77–88.
Betts, Gregory. Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2013.
———. Lawren Harris in the Ward: His Urban Poetry and Paintings. Toronto: Exile Editions, 2007.
Bucke, Richard Maurice. Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind. New York: Dutton, 1969.
Davis, Ann. The Logic of Ecstasy: Canadian Mystical Painting 1920–1940. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1992.
Evans, Victoria. “Bertram Brooker’s Theory of Art as Evinced in His ‘The Seven Arts Columns’ and Early Abstracts.” Journal of Canadian Art History 9, no. 1 (1986): 28–44.
Gevik, Phillip. Bertram Brooker, A Creative Force. Gevik Gallery: Toronto, 2014.
Grandbois, Michèle, Anna Hudson, and Esther Trépanier. The Nude in Modern Canadian Art 1920–1950. Montreal: Somogy and Musée national des beaux-arts, 2009.
Harris, Lawren. “Revelation of Art in Canada.” Canadian Theosophist 7, no. 5 (15 July 1926): 85–88.
Hudson, Anna. “Art and Social Progress: The Toronto Community of Painters (1933–1950).” Doctoral thesis. University of Toronto, 1997.
King, James. Inward Journey: The Life of Lawren Harris. London: Thomas Allen, 2012.
Lauder, Adam. “Bertram Brooker and the Toronto School of Communication.” Topia (Spring 2012), https://topia.journals.yorku.ca/index.php/topia/article/view/35269.
———. “Bertram Brooker,” (June 7, 2012): https://yorkspace.library.yorku.ca/xmlui/
bitstream/handle/10315/15499/Lauder-B_Brooker_08062012.pdf sequence=3& isAllowed=y
———. “It’s Alive! Bertram Brooker and Vitalism.” In Cassandra Getty, Georgiana Uhlyarik, Lisa Daniels, Adam Lauder, and Sarah Stanners, The Logic of Nature, the Romance of Space: Elements of Canadian Modernist Painting, 80–105. Windsor and Oshawa: Art Gallery of Windsor and The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, 2010.
———. “Temporality as Bergsonian Critique in the Advertising and Visual Art of Bertram Brooker.” Canadian Journal of Communications 39, no. 3 (2014): 469–96.
Luff, Carole. “Progress Passing through the Spirit: The Modernist Vision of Bertram Brooker and Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald as Redemptive Art.” Master’s thesis. Carleton University, 1991.
Nasgaard, Roald. Abstract Painting in Canada. Vancouver and Halifax: Douglas & McIntyre and Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2007.
Reid, Dennis. Bertram Brooker. Ottawa: The National Gallery, 1979.
Sinclair, Jennifer Oille, ed. Provincial Essays. Vol. 7. Bertram Brooker and Emergent Modernism. Toronto: Phacops Publishing Society, 1989.
Wagner, Anton. “‘God Crucified Upside Down’: The Plays.” In Sinclair, Provincial Essays, 38–51.
Williams, Glenn. “Translating Music into Visual Form: The Influence of Music in the Work of Bertram Brooker.” RACAR: Revue d’art canadienne / Canadian Art Review 27, nos. 1/2 (2000): 111–22.
Zemans, Joyce. “First Fruits: The Paintings.” In Sinclair, Provincial Essays, 17–37.