One of the oldest settlements in Canada, Halifax is the site of landmark firsts in Canadian art history, including the first public art exhibition and the first fine art association. Not only is Nova Scotia’s capital steeped in Maritime history, it is also home to one of the boldest, most radical contemporary art scenes in the country, a place known for its extraordinary spirit of innovation. Halifax Art & Artists: An Illustrated History brings these two spheres together, offering an exploration of creativity in the city from time immemorial to the present.
To the Mi’kmaq peoples, Halifax is known as Kjipuktuk or “Great Harbour”—it is one of the largest natural harbours in the world. A centre for trade in the colonial era, the city has been home to numerous artists, from nineteenth-century portrait painters like Joseph Comingo to contemporary multidisciplinary makers like Ursula Johnson. As well, it has been a critical touchstone for iconic figures in the region, including folk artist Maud Lewis and the great realist painter Alex Colville.
Author Ray Cronin guides the reader through a rich narrative of the diverse cultures that have formed Halifax’s artistic world. As a place transformed by both residents and visitors, the city has welcomed many pivotal leaders in Canadian art, from the war artists who came to Halifax to record the country’s defenses during global conflicts to the radical professors who turned the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design into one of the world’s most important centres of Conceptual art. Halifax Art & Artists offers an authoritative account of the city’s outstanding contributions to the nation and reveals the unique synergy between creators and the place itself.
Ray Cronin is an author and curator who lives in Nova Scotia. His books published by the Art Canada Institute include Alex Colville: Life & Work (2017), Mary Pratt: Life & Work (2020), and Maud Lewis: Life & Work (2021). He is also the author of Our Maud: The Life, Art and Legacy of Maud Lewis (Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, 2018), and seven numbers of the Gaspereau Field Guides to Canadian Artists. He has contributed essays to more than sixty books and catalogues on Canadian artists, and regularly writes for Canadian and American art magazines.