One of Canada’s pre-eminent landscape painters, Doris McCarthy (1910–2010) had a career that spanned the Great Depression and the Second World War, playing a critical role in understandings of the nation’s twentieth-century art world. In Doris McCarthy: Life & Work, author John G. Hatch explores McCarthy’s extraordinary trajectory, from her childhood in Toronto, to her weekly art lessons with Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer (1885–1969), to her receipt of a full-time scholarship to the Ontario College of Art—a pivotal event that led to her decision to become an artist, and to her proclamation: “I never looked back.” With firm resolve and a sense of adventure, McCarthy went on to become a celebrated artist, an influential educator, a prolific traveller, and an esteemed writer.


Doris McCarthy: Life & Work traces the career of the only Canadian landscape artist to work in every part of the country, forging a new vision for the genre that was distinct from the Group of Seven tradition. It addresses the components of McCarthy’s masterful talent and prodigious output, which led to the creation of more than five thousand works over the course of her eighty-year career. McCarthy’s continuously evolving style is explored through considerations of her constant experimentation with different media, her adaption of innovative artistic approaches, and her remarkable ability to balance representation and abstraction—all of which has resulted in a body of work as vast, varied, and visually rich as this country’s natural vistas.


“As historical and critical attention on women artists in Canada has grown, Doris McCarthy has emerged as a force among her peers. Her longevity, tenaciousness, dedicated friends and followers, and relative disregard for conforming to current trends were exemplary and forged important new ground in Canadian art.”JOHN G. HATCH


The first woman to be elected president of the Ontario Society of Artists, McCarthy received numerous honours and awards throughout her lifetime, including the Order of Canada (1986), the Order of Ontario (1992), and five honorary degrees. However, despite her exceptional contributions to this country’s cultural output through her art, teaching, and writing, scholarship on her contributions have not kept pace with her achievements. Doris McCarthy: Life & Work is an important study that shines a light on one of Canada’s most indomitable talents, whose sense of adventure and spirit of innovation ultimately changed the course of landscape painting in Canada.


John G. Hatch is an associate professor of art history at Western University. His area of research is twentieth-century European and American art and theory, with a special focus on the influence of the physical sciences on modern art. He is the author of the Art Canada Institute publications Paterson Ewen: Life & Work and Kazuo Nakamura: Life & Work.

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