Untitled I c. 1926–28

Kathleen Munn, Untitled I, c. 1926–28

Kathleen Munn, Untitled I, c. 1926–28

Oil on canvas, 37 x 60 cm

National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa

Art Canada Institute, Untitled I and Untitled II, 1926-28
When Untitled I and Untitled II are placed together, the full power of the original painting is revealed. (A fragment of the canvas has been lost.) The original painting measured 75 x 60 cm.

Untitled I is among the first purely abstract paintings made in Canada. References to natural landscape forms are discernible in the solid shapes of primary colours dynamically organized in this composition. These abstract shapes appear in many of Munn’s paintings from the late 1920s and early 1930s. Munn experimented in step with her friend Bertram Brooker (1888–1955), who exhibited his abstract paintings in January 1927.


Until recently Untitled I was believed to be one of two surviving abstract paintings by Munn, its companion piece being Untitled II. While restoring Untitled II in 2012–13, Michael O’Malley, painting conservator at the Centre de conservation du Québec (CCQ), discovered that these two paintings originally formed a single canvas, which was cut apart, almost certainly by the artist, with a fragment now missing. 


It is unlikely that Munn exhibited this work. Along with Untitled II, the unframed canvas was found rolled up and stored among Munn’s many belongings inherited by her niece Kathleen (Kay) Richards.


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