• A Space, Toronto

    A not-for-profit, artist-run exhibition space that emerged out of Toronto’s Nightingale Gallery in 1971. A Space was an important centre for innovative art in all disciplines throughout the 1970s and remains a key site for the exhibition of contemporary visual art in Toronto. Its programming emphasizes inclusivity and political engagement.

  • Abell, Walter (American, 1897–1956)

    An art historian and critic who was, from 1928 to 1943, the first professor of Fine Arts at Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. Abell was a proponent of cultural democracy and the founder of the Maritime Art Association, which supported art programming and exhibitions throughout the region. He was a founding executive of the Federation of Canadian Artists, and his work helped establish a critical discourse around Canadian art.

  • abstract art

    Also called nonfigurative or nonrepresentational art, abstract art uses form, colour, line, and gestural marks in compositions that do not attempt to represent images of real things. It may interpret reality in an altered form, or depart from it entirely.

  • Abstract Expressionism

    A style that flourished in New York in the 1940s and 1950s, Abstract Expressionism is defined by its combination of formal abstraction and self-conscious expression. The term describes a wide variety of work; among the most famous Abstract Expressionists are Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, and Willem de Kooning.

  • Absurdism

    Closely associated with the French writer and philosopher Albert Camus, absurdism, like existentialism, acknowledges an essentially meaningless universe in which humans struggle to create meaning. Unlike existentialism, absurdism does not depend on the acceptance of meaninglessness; instead, it offers that individuals might rebel against it by embracing the paradox of looking for answers to unanswerable questions, turning the search for meaning into an absurd quest.

  • academic tradition

    Associated with the royal academies of art established in France and England in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries respectively, the academic tradition emphasized drawing, painting, and sculpture in a style highly influenced by ancient classical art. Subject matter for painting was hierarchically ranked, with history painting of religious, mythological, allegorical, and historical figures holding the position of greatest importance, followed, in order, by genre painting, portraiture, still lifes, and landscapes.

  • academicism

    A style of painting and sculpture established during the Renaissance, academicism or academic art was favoured by the European teaching academies, which provided a way to professionalize artists who had previously been considered craftsmen or artisans. In official academies, often associated with a royal patron, artists acquired skills in painting or sculpture, creating work that fell into a hierarchy of five categories: history subjects at the top, then portraiture, genre scenes, landscapes, and finally still lifes. By the nineteenth century, academic art had come to be seen as conservative, and it and the academies were eventually superseded by a variety of avant-garde art movements.

  • Académie Carmen

    Founded by James Abbott McNeill Whistler, the Académie Carmen was a private art school in Paris, France. The school was run by its namesake, Carmen Rossi, Whistler’s favourite model. Classes were open to women and men, though separated by gender, and focused on painting and drawing. The school operated from 1898 to 1901.

  • Académie Colarossi

    Founded in Paris in 1870 by the Italian sculptor Filippo Colarossi as an alternative to the conservative École des beaux-arts, the Académie Colarossi was one of the first French schools to accept woman students. Classes were segregated by gender but otherwise identical, with both men and women drawing from nude models. Notable students included Emily Carr, Camille Claudel, Paul Gauguin, and Amedeo Modigliani. The school closed in the 1930s.

  • Académie de la Grande Chaumière

    An art school founded in Paris in 1904 by Spanish artist Claudio Castelucho (1870–1927) and jointly directed from 1909 by artists Martha Stettler (1870–1945), Alice Dannenberg (1861–1948), and Lucien Simon (1861–1945). The Académie offered lower fees than other Parisian art schools and promoted a teaching program that emphasized a non-academic, experimental, and modernist approach to painting and sculpture.

  • Académie Julian

    A private art school established by Rodolphe Julian in Paris in 1868. Among the many Canadian artists who studied there are Maurice Cullen, J.W. Morrice, Marc-Aurèle de Foy Suzor-Coté, A.Y. Jackson, and Clarence Gagnon.

  • Academy of Fine Arts, Munich

    Founded as the Royal Academy of Fine Arts by Maximilian I Joseph, king of Bavaria, in 1808, the Academy of Fine Arts in Munich has its roots in a drawing school established in the city in the late eighteenth century. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, the academy became a major centre for painters trained in the Academic style, closely associated with the Munich School of influential German artists. It changed its name to its current version in 1956.

  • Acconci, Vito (American, 1940–2017)

    A New York City-born multidisciplinary artist whose practice spanned sculpture, performance, film, architecture, and installation art. His work often utilized transgressive and controversial acts and imagery to explore notions of private versus public space. He earned his MFA from the University of Iowa and taught at institutions such as the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (now NSCAD University), Cooper Union, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and Yale University.

  • Ace, Barry (Anishinaabe [Odawa] M’Chigeeng First Nation, b. 1958)

    A textile, digital, and mixed-media artist who draws from Anishinaabeg traditional beadwork and salvaged electronic parts to explore where the past, present, and future converge for Indigenous peoples. Ace transforms technological waste into floral motifs as an act of cultural continuity and nationhood. In 2015 Ace received the K.M. Hunter Visual Arts Award.

  • Adams, Ansel (American, 1902–1984)

    Ansel Adams became the defining photographer of the American landscape in the twentieth century. His way of seeing the world was formed during a period spent living in California’s Yosemite National Park in his twenties. A conservationist and Sierra Club president, Adams produced high-contrast, sharply focused images that sought to capture a mystical experience of untouched wilderness. He published books on both conservation and photography, and promoted photography as a fine art, helping to found a curatorial department for photography at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. 

  • Adams, KC (Anishinaabe-Cree, b.1971)

    A Winnipeg-based multidisciplinary artist, educator, and activist whose work explores the relationships between nature and technology and their impact on Indigenous identity. A graduate of Concordia University, Adams has exhibited internationally and published Perception: A Photo Series in 2019. From 2008 to 2009 she was director of the Urban Shaman Gallery in Winnipeg.

  • Adamson, Edward (British, 1911–1996)

    A pioneer in the field of art therapy. A trained artist, Adamson lectured on art and facilitated artmaking sessions for psychiatric patients beginning after the Second World War. He became art director of the hospital in Netherne in 1948 and worked there for more than three decades until his retirement. His collection of patient artworks has travelled internationally.

  • Adamson, Robert (Scottish, 1821–1848)

    A photographer, and one half of the photography team Hill and Adamson, in which Adamson’s role was largely that of technician. Known for pioneering artistic photographic portraiture and for early mastery of the calotype process, Hill and Adamson rank among the most important photographers of the nineteenth century.

  • Adaskin, Murray (Canadian, 1906–2002)

    A member of the Adaskin family (a distinguished Canadian family of artists and musicians), Murray Adaskin began his career as an orchestral and chamber musician before turning to composition. A prolific modernist composer, known for championing Canadian music and musicians, Adaskin was also an influential teacher.

  • Aesthetic movement

    Active in Britain from 1860 to 1900, the Aesthetic movement rejected the idea that art must be grounded in a deeper meaning in favour of a focus on beauty, or “art for art’s sake.” Drawing on decorative and pictorial traditions from ancient Greece to the Renaissance and influenced by an influx of Japanese prints following the forced opening of trade in 1853, it blurred the line between decorative and fine arts, particularly through the design work of William Morris. Other prominent figures included Dante Gabriel Rossetti, James Abbott McNeill Whistler, and Oscar Wilde.

  • af Klint, Hilma (Swedish, 1862–1944)

    An abstract painter, spiritualist, and occultist, af Klint was the leader of The Five (De Fem), a group of Swedish female artists who believed their work to be dictated by spirits of a different realm. Her purely abstract paintings predate those by Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich, and Piet Mondrian. Af Klint stipulated that her work not be displayed until twenty years after her death; it was first shown publicly in Los Angeles in 1986.

  • afterimage

    A term that refers to an optical illusion whereby an image remains visible even after its source is no longer present. An example of a common afterimage is the glow that appears in one’s vision following exposure to a bright light.

  • Aguilar, Laura (Mexican American, 1959–2018)

    A largely self-taught photographer whose work explores her identity as a lesbian Chicana woman. In the late 1980s and 1990s, Aguilar made powerful portraits of herself nude in various settings, from natural landscapes to interior domestic spaces. During this period, she also began taking portraits of other queer Chicana women in her community of East Los Angeles. Aguilar’s best-known work is Three Eagles Flying, 1990, a self-portrait articulating the complexities of her bicultural identity.

  • Aitken, James Alfred (Scottish, 1846–1897)

    As a young man Aitken studied art in Dublin and travelled in Europe and North America before establishing himself as a painter based in Glasgow. He became known for his landscapes, and he specialized in working in watercolour. A friend of William Van Horne, he was one of several artists who painted landscapes for the Canadian Pacific Railway.

  • Akesuk, Saimaiyu (Kinngait, b. 1988)

    An artist known for her bold drawings, Saimaiyu Akesuk often represents bears and birds in her work. Prints based on her drawings have been released in Kinngait Studios’ Annual Print Collection, including in 2013, 2014, and 2015.

  • Albers, Josef (German/American, 1888–1976)

    A painter and designer who studied and later taught at the Bauhaus, Albers immigrated to the United States after the Nazis closed the school in 1933. As a teacher at Black Mountain College in North Carolina, he attracted future luminaries such as Robert Motherwell and Willem de Kooning. Albers was a pioneer of Op art and Kinetic art.

  • Alberta Society of Artists (ASA)

    Founded in 1931 by A.C. Leighton and other Calgary artists, the ASA serves to promote the visual arts in Alberta through its membership, exhibitions, and education programs. Prominent artists from the province have acted as presidents of the Society, including Leighton, H.G. Glyde, Illingworth Kerr, and Stanford Perrott. The ASA grants scholarships to post-secondary and graduate students in the visual arts and runs the TREX program, which circulates art exhibitions around communities in Southwestern Alberta.

  • Alberti, Leon Battista (Italian, 1404–1472)

    The author of treatises on painting, sculpture, and architecture—together, these three texts serve as the theoretical basis for all of Renaissance art—Alberti is credited with standardizing the forms of classical design.

  • Albright, Ivan (American, 1897–1983)

    A Chicago painter of haunting and meticulously constructed portraits and still lifes. His most famous works—among them his earliest monumental painting, Into the World There Came a Soul Named Ida, 1929–30—convey his lifelong concern with the idea of mortality. Albright also wrote and worked in sculpture, lithography, and film.

  • albumen

    A coating consisting of a combination of egg whites and salt, applied to glass (for photographic negatives) or, more commonly, paper (for photographic prints), and then sensitized with a silver nitrate solution. Albumen prints were common from the 1850s to the 1890s and were preferred to salt prints for their clarity.

  • Aldwinckle, Eric (Canadian, 1909–1980)

    An official war artist with the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War, Aldwinckle produced over 100 drawings and paintings depicting his experiences. A prominent graphic designer and teacher, he later was principal of the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University).

  • Alexander, David T. (Canadian, b. 1947)

    A landscape painter known for his colourful and gestural depictions of natural water reflections and rugged territories in Canada, the United States, and Iceland. In 2011 Alexander taught at the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshop in Saskatchewan. His works are found in many private and public collections, including Museum London, Ontario, and the Vancouver Art Gallery.

  • Alexander, Vikky (Canadian, b.1959)

    A Victoria-born photographer and multidisciplinary artist whose work is associated with Vancouver photo-conceptualism, the Pictures Generation, and appropriation art. Alexander studied at NSCAD University in Halifax and exhibited in New York in the 1980s. Her introspective approach to photography explores the tensions between nature and culture.

  • Alexcee, Frederick (Tsimshian, c.1857–c.1944)

    A Tsimshian artist who produced carvings, paintings, and lanternslide illustrations of life in his community of Lax Kw’alaams (Fort/Port Simpson) on the coast of northern British Columbia, Alexcee sold his works to European settlers. He was also trained as a halaayt carver and created objects such as nax nox (spirit) carvings for use in Tsimshian shamanic practices.

  • Algonquin School

    An early twentieth-century group of Canadian landscape painters, including Franklin Carmichael, A.Y. Jackson, Frank Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Tom Thomson, and F.H. Varley. Most went on to form the Group of Seven. They met regularly and were interested in developing a unique art form inspired by the Canadian wilderness.

  • Allamand-Berczy, Jeanne-Charlotte (Swiss/Canadian, 1760–1839)

    A painter and the wife of the miniaturist William Berczy, Jeanne-Charlotte Allamand-Berczy came to Canada as a leader of a group of German immigrants, settling in Markham, Ontario, before moving to Montreal. A selection of her letters to her husband forms an important document of life in North America in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

  • Alleyn, Edmund (Canadian, 1931–2004)

    An innovative and cerebral painter who engaged with numerous major styles throughout his life, from Abstract Expressionism to Pop Art. Alleyn trained at the École des beaux-arts de Québec, in Quebec City (now part of Université Laval), with Jean Paul Lemieux before moving to Paris in 1955, where he lived for fifteen years. He represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1960.

  • Alloway, Lawrence (British/American, 1926–1990)

    Credited with coining the term “Pop art,” Lawrence Alloway was a curator and art critic. Though he began his career in England, Alloway gained prominence as a critical voice in the New York art scene of the 1960s. As a writer and editor at publications including ArtForum, he detailed the relationship between various art movements and their wider cultural context, creating a form of criticism that rejected value judgement in favour of information. Alloway served as curator of the Guggenheim Museum in New York City from 1962 to 1966.

  • Allward, Walter Seymour (Canadian, 1874–1955)

    Following an apprenticeship in architectural ornamentation, the sculptor Walter Seymour Allward worked on a large scale, creating historic monuments and memorials for sites in Toronto, Ottawa, and throughout southern Ontario that include Queen’s Park and Parliament Hill. Allward is best known for his monumental Canadian National Vimy Memorial (1921–36) in Vimy, France, which commemorates both the First World War Battle of Vimy Ridge and the Canadians who died in France during the conflict that have no known grave. (See Walter S. Allward: Life & Work by Philip Dombwosky)

  • ambrotype

    A photographic process consisting of a collodion positive on glass backed by an opaque material and held in a hinged case. Ambrotypes largely replaced daguerreotypes (with which they are easily confused) in the late 1850s and were themselves replaced in the 1860s by cheaper tintypes and cartes-de-visite.

  • American Impressionism

    A painting style that emerged in America in the mid-nineteenth century. Much like the French Impressionist movement it drew inspiration from, American Impressionism was characterized by the use of loose, textured brushstrokes and bright, vibrant colour schemes to capture scenes of everyday urban, domestic, and rural life.

  • American Regionalism

    An art movement popular from the 1920s to 1950s. Based in the American heartland, its adherents created pastoral scenes that venerated a pre-industrial United States, inspired by their rural and small-town surroundings. Among the most celebrated American Regionalists are the painters John Steuart Curry, Grant Wood, and Thomas Hart Benton.

  • American Scene movement

    A movement composed of smaller movements, including Regionalism and Precisionism, that developed in the United States from the late 1920s to the 1940s. American Scene painters, including Edward Hopper and Grant Wood, rejected European modernist aesthetics in favour of specifically American subject matter, which they portrayed in a realist style that had emerged with the earlier Ashcan School.

  • Amess, Fred (Canadian, 1909–1970)

    Born in London, England, Amess immigrated to Canada’s West Coast as a young child. A painter, he was part of the first graduating class from the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts in 1929 and taught at the renamed Vancouver School of Art, where, in 1943, he founded the Art in Living Group with fellow faculty member B.C. Binning. Amess served as director of the Vancouver School of Art from 1952 to 1970.

  • Anasazi
  • Anastasi, William (American, b.1933)

    A pioneering figure in American Conceptual and Minimal art, aligned with Carl Andre, John Cage, Eva Hesse, Robert Rauschenberg, and Richard Serra. Anastasi was one of the first modern artists to create site-specific works; Six Sites, 1966–67, led the way for later artists and curators interested in this form.

  • Ancestry of Cubism, The

    An article written by Jay Hambidge and Gove Hambidge, published in Century Magazine in 1914. The authors refer to examples of antique art and also to more recent art and design that they believed were precedents for Cubism and argue that the method of blocking out was not new.

  • Anderson, Laurie (American, b.1947)

    An Illinois-born multidisciplinary artist and composer whose work often combines performance, installation, and music. Trained as a violinist, she studied art history at Barnard College and obtained her MFA in sculpture from Columbia University. She is known for inventing and designing several experimental and non-conventional musical instruments.

  • Anderson, Wes (American, b. 1969)

    A film director, producer, and screenwriter whose quirky “serious” comedies regularly earn him major critical and commercial success. Rushmore (1998) and Moonrise Kingdom (2012) exemplify his distinctive approach to storytelling and visual style. He works repeatedly with the same actors.

  • Andre, Carl (American, b.1935)

    Carl Andre is a minimalist sculptor and poet who lives and works in New York City. His work, which has been influenced by artists Constantin Brâncuși and Frank Stella, consists of repetitive, grid patterns of blocks, bricks, and metal plates arranged on the floor or ground. Each piece is concerned with the physical realities of the space that surrounds it, and with how the viewer perceives it rather than with questions of symbolic or metaphorical meaning. Andre retreated from the public art world after he was tried and acquitted of second-degree murder in the death of his wife, the artist Ana Mendieta, in 1985.

  • Angelucci, Sara (Canadian, b.1962)

    A Toronto-based artist working with photography, video, and audio. Angelucci’s practice investigates the commemorative function of vernacular photographs and films, as well as their role in constructing narratives and histories. Initially drawing from her family’s archives, Angelucci has turned her attention to working with found materials. Her recent work explores the relationship between photography and natural science.

  • Anger, Kenneth (American, b. 1927)

    A celebrated and controversial underground filmmaker who made his first film, the often-banned Fireworks, at age fifteen. His films and books demonstrate a lifelong fascination with the occult and the scandals of Old Hollywood. Anger’s influence has been wide-ranging, from commercial and experimental filmmakers to artists working in other media.

  • aniline dyes

    Used to colour wood, fabric, and leather, aniline dyes are synthetic organic compounds known for their clarity of colour and for retaining the appearance of natural textures.

  • Anishinaabe/Anishnabe/Anishinābe

    A collective term that means “the people” or “original people” and refers to a number of interconnected communities such as the Ojibway/Ojibwa/Ojibwé, Odawa, Chippewa, Saulteaux, Mississauga, Potawatomi, and others. In Canada, the Anishinaabe/Anishnabe region includes areas of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec.

  • Anshutz, Thomas Pollock (American, 1851–1912)

    An American painter and prominent teacher at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Thomas Pollock Anshutz was especially known for his portraits, though he also produced landscapes. Along with Thomas Eakins, he used photographs as observational tools both in his classes and in his own work, and was involved with Eadweard Muybridge’s movement studies and experiments with his zoopraxiscope.

  • Anthology Film Archives

    A New York City centre for film study, preservation, and exhibition, with emphasis on independent and experimental works, started in 1969 by five avant-garde filmmakers and writers on cinema: Stan Brakhage, Jerome Hill, Peter Kubelka, Jonas Mekas, and P. Adams Sitney.

  • Anthropocene

    The term applied to the current geological age in which human activity has had a profound effect on the earth and its ecosystems. The Anthropocene is understood by some to have begun in the 1800s with the onset of the Industrial Revolution. Anthropogenic, or human-driven, climate change and global warming are hallmarks of the age.

  • Anthroposophy

    Anthroposophy is a spiritual philosophy, developed by Rudolf Steiner at the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. It holds that the spiritual element in human beings can be experienced in concrete ways and subjected to scientific quantification. The curriculum of Waldorf schools around the world today is based on Steiner’s educational theories and anthroposophical philosophy. The pedagogy emphasizes the role of imagination in learning, striving to integrate holistically the intellectual, practical, and artistic development of the pupils.

  • Antin, Eleanor (American, b.1935)

    A pioneering Conceptual and feminist artist working in performance, film, and installation. From the 1970s to the 1990s, Antin explored the construction of self-identity by developing different alter egos—including a king, a ballerina, and a nurse—that blurred the boundaries of gender, class, and racial identity. Since the early 2000s, her work has consisted of large-scale photographic tableaux that draw on Greek and Roman history and mythology to critique contemporary culture.

  • Appel, Karel (Dutch, 1921–2006)

    An abstract painter and sculptor, Karel Appel was involved with the Nederlandse Experimentele Groep (Dutch Experimental Group, 1948) and was a founder of CoBrA (1948–51), an influential group of young European artists active in the years following the Second World War and closely associated with its Amsterdam members. After moving to France in 1950, he showed widely in Europe and North America through the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. His work incorporates the intensity and affinity for l’art brut that emerged in CoBrA’s reaction against artistic convention.

  • Appel, Karel (Dutch, 1921–2006)

    An artist whose work in diverse media includes expressionist and primitivist paintings and assemblages, olive-wood sculptures, stained glass windows, poetry, and the set design for the choreographer Min Tanaka’s 1987 ballet Can We Dance a Landscape?

  • aquatint

    An intaglio printing technique in which an engraved copperplate is immersed in an acid bath to create sunken areas that hold ink. A variation of etching, aquatints resemble watercolour drawings because of the possible tone gradations.

  • Arcadia

    A Canadian journal of the nineteenth century out of Montreal, Arcadia was published twice a month from May 1892 to March 1893, in English, under the direction of Joseph Gould. The magazine declared itself “devoted to music, art and literature” and featured articles on events in Montreal and other Canadian cities, as well as abroad.

  • Arcadia

    A term denoting an idyllic pastoral landscape or natural utopia. Arcadian landscapes can be traced to the Hellenistic period, and they feature perhaps most famously in Italian Renaissance and eighteenth-century French and British paintings. The word derives from the name of a Greek province that has existed since antiquity.

  • Archambault, Louis (Canadian, 1915–2003)

    A significant figure in twentieth-century Canadian sculpture, whose numerous public commissions can be found in Montreal, Toronto, and Ottawa. Archambault also contributed to the Canadian pavilions at the Brussels World’s Fair, 1958, and Expo 67, in Montreal. He was a signatory of the 1948 Prisme d’yeux manifesto.

  • Archipenko, Alexander (Russian/American, 1887–1964)

    A highly influential Cubist sculptor, introduced to the movement by Fernand Léger after moving from Moscow to Paris in 1908. Archipenko’s early work expresses the materiality of and contrast between positive and negative space; like Pablo Picasso, he created sculptural assemblages of found materials.

  • Arikushi, Masato (Canadian, b.1947)

    A master Japanese block cutter and printmaker who worked in collaboration with several Canadian artists, such as Mary Pratt and Takao Tanabe.

  • Arman (French/American, 1928–2005)

    A sculptor and painter born Armand Fernandez in France, whose work became increasingly experimental over the course of his career. Arman was affiliated with the Nouveau réalisme movement of the 1960s, and he is best known for his “accumulations” of objects.

  • Armington, Caroline (Canadian, 1875–1939)

    Born in Brampton, Ontario, Armington was a nurse and an artist known for her paintings and etchings of Paris. From 1905 to 1910, Armington and her artist husband, Frank Armington, pursued further training at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and the Académie Julian in Paris. During the First World War, Lord Beaverbrook commissioned Armington to create etchings for the Canadian War Memorials Fund. In 1939, Armington moved to New York, and remained there until her death later that year.

  • Armory Show

    Presented in New York, Chicago, and Boston in 1913, the International Exhibition of Modern Art, or the Armory Show, marked a seminal moment in the American modern art movement. Introducing progressive American artists and the European avant-garde for the first time to a wide U.S. audience, the exhibition featured the works of hundreds of artists, many of which were considered shocking at the time.

  • Armstrong, William Walton (Canadian, 1916–1998)

    A Toronto-born landscape artist who settled in Montreal in 1942, Armstrong taught at the School of Art and Design of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. He was part of an informal group of Montreal artists who shared his interest in Post-Impressionism and modern art, including Goodridge Roberts and John Lyman.

  • Arnaktauyok, Germaine (Igloolik, b.1946)

    Germaine Arnaktauyok’s prints and drawings incorporate Inuit myths and traditional life, often featuring scenes of birth and motherhood. Occasionally autobiographical, her images have addressed her seven childhood years in residential schools. A graduate of the University of Manitoba (fine art) and of Algonquin College (commercial art), she is also a writer who has illustrated her own work. 

  • Arp, Jean (German/French, 1886–1966)

    Born Hans Arp, Jean Arp was a Surrealist artist and original member of the Dada group. His work includes textile, wood relief, sculpture, and collage. Arp also wrote essays and poetry, contributing to publications including De Stijl and La Révolution surréaliste. In the 1930s, following his association with the Paris group Abstraction-Création, Arp’s work began to incorporate aspects of Constructivism, which translated into harder edges in his forms. His wife was the Surrealist artist Sophie Taeuber.

  • Art Association of Montreal (AAM)

    An institution founded in 1860 by Bishop Francis Fulford (1803–1868) alongside a group of Montreal art collectors, as an offshoot of the Montreal Society of Artists (itself dating to 1847). The Art Association of Montreal organized art shows throughout the city before establishing its permanent headquarters in downtown Montreal. It was renamed the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1950, now one of the most visited art museums in Canada.

  • Art Deco

    A decorative style of the early twentieth century, first exhibited in Paris in 1925 at the Exposition internationale des arts décoratifs et industriels modernes. The style had several influences, including Egyptian and Asian motifs, modernist fine art movements, and its design predecessor, Art Nouveau.

  • Art et décoration

    Launched in 1897, the French magazine Art et décoration was the first magazine in the world focused on decoration. Originally subtitled Monthly Review of Modern Art, in its early years it defended new artistic styles, especially new art. Over time, Art et décoration tracked the evolution of modernism, especially after the magazine’s merger with the L’Architect in 1936. The magazine continues to appear monthly.

  • art for art’s sake

    Art for art’s sake is a notion of art formed during the middle of the nineteenth century among a group of French poets called Parnasse. It is a rejection of Romanticism. First theorized by the writer Thêophile Gautier in the preface to his novel Mademoiselle de Maupin (1835), art for art’s sake is an art that only refers to itself and has no goal save for the pursuit of art and beauty.

  • Art Gallery of Alberta (AGA)

    Founded in 1924 as the Edmonton Museum of Arts by curator Maud Bowman (1877–1944) with the assistance of local art associations, the museum was renamed the Edmonton Art Gallery in 1956. The gallery held its exhibitions at various public venues throughout Edmonton during the first half of the twentieth century, before a permanent facility was established at Churchill Square in 1969. In 2005 the institution was again renamed the Art Gallery of Alberta. A redesigned and expanded building opened in 2010.

  • Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

    Opened in 1951, the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (AGGV) on Vancouver Island is the largest public art collection in British Columbia. With strengths in Canadian and Indigenous works, the gallery also holds a significant collection of Asian art. Its permanent displays include the work of Emily Carr, a celebrated artist from Victoria, and its gardens feature an authentic Japanese Shinto shrine.

  • Art Gallery of Hamilton

    The largest public art museum in southwestern Ontario, the Art Gallery of Hamilton (AGH) was founded in 1914 and consists of a permanent collection of over 10,000 works by historical and contemporary Canadian as well as international artists. Occupying a 75,000-square- foot space on King Street, the AGH was renovated by architect Bruce Kuwabara from 2003 to 2005.

  • Art Gallery of Nova Scotia

    One of the largest museums in Atlantic Canada, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia was founded in 1908. Its collection includes more than 17,000 works, with a focus on work by artists with strong connections to Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada as well as work by historical and contemporary Canadian artists more generally. Its collection of folk art, anchored by the work of Maud Lewis, is especially notable.

  • Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO)

    Founded in 1900 as the Art Museum of Toronto—and later named the Art Gallery of Toronto—the Art Gallery of Ontario is a major collecting institution in Toronto, Ontario, holding close to 95,000 works by Canadian and international artists.

  • Art Gallery of Windsor

    An art gallery in Windsor, Ontario, founded in 1943 and known since 2022 as Art Windsor-Essex. It holds significant works of art by regional and national artists, and exhibits both contemporary and historical Canadian art.

  • Art Nouveau

    Thriving in Europe and the United States from the late nineteenth century until the First World War, this decorative style, characterized by flowing organic shapes and serpentine lines, had an impact on architecture and on graphic and decorative arts in particular, though its influence is also reflected in painting and sculpture.

  • Art Students League of New York

    A progressive art school established by artists for artists in 1875. By the turn of the twentieth century, the Art Students League was attracting many students who would become central figures in contemporary American art. Teachers included William Merritt Chase, Thomas Eakins, and Robert Henri.

  • Arte Povera

    An Italian avant-garde art movement spanning the late 1960s to the early 1970s. The term “arte povera,” meaning “impoverished art,” was established by critic Germano Celant in 1967. The movement embraced the use of found and humble materials and media such as sculpture, assemblage, and performance art. Arte Povera reacted against the commercial, institutionalized gallery world and American Minimalism by using both natural and industrial materials to question the conflicts between past and present values. Major Arte Povera artists include Giovanni Anselmo, Giuseppe Penone, and Michelangelo Pistoletto.

  • Artist book

    A work of art in book form, the artist or artist’s book uses the book as object as a medium for the expression of an artistic idea. While illustrated volumes have a long history, the concept of the book as a medium unto itself dates from the late nineteenth century. Whether as individual objects or editions, artist books have played a key role in the work of twentieth- and twenty-first-century artists, from Michael Snow’s Cover to Cover (1975) to Joyce Wieland’s True Patriot Love (1971), and Rodney Graham’s Dr. No (1991).

  • artist-run gallery/centre

    A gallery or other art space developed and run by artists. In Canada these include YYZ and Art Metropole in Toronto, Forest City Gallery in London, Western Front in Vancouver, formerly Véhicule Art Inc. in Montreal, The Region Gallery in London, and Garret Gallery in Toronto. These not-for-profit organizations exist outside the commercial and institutional gallery system. They aim to support avant-grade practices and emerging artists, foster dialogue between creators, and cultivate the production and exhibition of new artworks.

  • artists’ colonies

    These are communities where artists congregate to live, work, collaborate, and critique each other’s work in an atmosphere of creative freedom. They were especially popular in the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Europe and on both the east and west coasts in the United States as artists moved from cities to rural villages during the summer months. A few artists’ colonies developed into permanent settlements where artists’ supplies were readily available and classes and instruction were offered.

  • Artists’ Jazz Band

    A free-jazz group active in the 1960s and 1970s, consisting mostly of artists—who were largely self-taught musicians—associated with Abstract Expressionism. Founded in Toronto in 1962 by Dennis Burton and Richard Gorman, the AJB had a roster of players that over time included Graham Coughtry, Harvey Cowan, Terry Forster, Jim Jones, Nobuo Kubota, Robert Markle, Gerald McAdam, Gordon Rayner, Bill Smith, and Michael Snow.

  • Artists’ Workshop (Toronto)

    The Artists’ Workshop was located in a coach house near Sherbourne and Bloor streets. First presided over by Barbara Wells, she was succeeded by John Sime, who folded it into the Three Schools of Art.

  • Arts and Crafts

    A precursor to modernist design, this decorative arts movement developed in the mid-nineteenth century in England in response to what its proponents saw as the dehumanizing effects of industrialization. Spearheaded by William Morris, the Arts and Crafts movement valued craftsmanship and simplicity of form and frequently incorporated nature motifs in the design of ordinary objects.

  • Arts and Crafts Society in Canada

    George Agnew Reid founded the Arts and Crafts Society in Canada in Toronto in 1902. The society promoted the applied arts and Arts and Crafts design principles and included artists, artisans, and architects. It had its inaugural exhibition in Toronto in 1904, and in 1905 it changed its name to the Canadian Society of Applied Art.

  • Arts and Letters Club of Toronto

    A Toronto-based club established in 1908 to promote culture, it provided a space in which artists, architects, writers, musicians, and art patrons could practise and perform their art as well as engage in discussion in a convivial atmosphere. Founding members of the Group of Seven frequently met there to relax, exhibit, and promote their work. The club, which still operates today, was originally male-only; however, on February 19, 1985, female members began to be admitted.

  • Arts Club of Montreal

    Founded in 1912 by a group of successful artists, sculptors, architects, and writers of high social status and modelled on the English gentlemen’s clubs of London in the nineteenth century. Notable members were architect William Maxwell Sutherland (founder and first president); painter and respected art teacher William Brymner; Maurice Cullen; A.Y. Jackson; Henri Hébert; Alfred Laliberté; and James Wilson Morrice. In 1996 the membership was opened to women. The club is now a professional association representing a wide range of artists.

  • Asceticism 

    Asceticism is the practice of self-denial, often accompanied by a withdrawal from the world, generally in the hopes of attaining a spiritual ideal. This discipline has historically been an element of many varieties of religious practice. In philosophy, it is associated with various forms of disciplined practice, from the Sophists of Ancient Greece to the moral rigor of Immanuel Kant, the word itself deriving from the Greek askeo, to train. Ascetic practices may include, but are not limited to, fasting, restriction of movement, celibacy, limited social contact, and denial of physical and psychological forms of comfort.

  • Ashcan School

    A group of New York–based American painters—principally George Bellows, William Glackens, Robert Henri, Edward Hopper, George Luks, Everett Shinn, and John French Sloan—active from around 1908 to the First World War, interested in depicting scenes of daily urban life, including slum life and marginalized populations.

  • Ashevak, Arnaqu (Kinngait, 1956–2009)

    Most widely known for his carvings, Arnaqu Ashevak was also a printmaker and graphic artist. He was an adopted son of famed first-generation Inuit artist Kenojuak Ashevak and engraver and carver Johniebo Ashevak.

  • Ashevak, Kenojuak (Ikirasak/Kinngait, 1927–2013)

    Born on southern Baffin Island, this graphic artist largely represented Inuit art in Canada and internationally from the 1960s onward. The recipient of numerous commissions from federal and public institutions, including Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, Canada Post, and VIA Rail, her captivating images of animal and human figures are among the most recognizable in Canadian art history.

  • Ashoona, Goota (Kinngait, b. 1967)

    A third-generation artist from Cape Dorset, Goota Ashoona is a carver of traditional Inuit whalebone and stone sculptures. In 2008 the family studio held the exhibition The Gift from Haida Gwaii, which included a two-metre-high piece collaboratively carved from a single whale’s rib.

  • Ashoona, Kuiga (Kiugak) (Kinngait, 1933–2014)

    A master carver of traditional Inuit sculpture, Kuiga Ashoona received the Order of Canada in 2000 and is among the most significant figures in contemporary northern art. A second-generation Inuit artist, he was one of Pitseolak Ashoona’s sons. A retrospective exhibition of his decades-long career was held at the Winnipeg Art Gallery in 2010.

  • Ashoona, Mayoreak (Ashoona, Mayureak) (Saturituk/Kinngait, b.1946)

    A graphic artist and master carver whose mother was the pioneering graphic artist Sheouak Parr. After the death of her husband, the carver Qaqaq Ashoona, Mayoreak Ashoona moved from their camp on southern Baffin Island to Cape Dorset. Her work has been exhibited in Germany and Japan, as well as across Canada.

  • Ashoona, Napachie (Kinngait, b. 1974)

    A carver from Frobisher Bay, Baffin Island, Napachie Ashoona is the son of the artists Sorosilutu and Kiugak Ashoona. His figurative sculptures are carved from serpentine, a stone indigenous to Baffin Island, and explore movement and traditional themes, including hunting, drum dancing, and familial bonds.

  • Ashoona, Ohito (Kinngait, b.1952)

    An acclaimed carver and expert hunter from Cape Dorset, Ohito Ashoona is the son of Qaqaq Ashoona. He began his artistic training at the age of twelve and in 2002 was awarded a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for his accomplishments in the visual arts.

  • Ashoona, Pitseolak (Tujakjuak/Kinngait, c.1904–1983)

    A major figure in the history of Cape Dorset graphic art, Pitseolak Ashoona made well over eight thousand drawings during her twenty-five-year career. Beginning in 1960, her enormously popular, frequently autobiographical images were included in the Cape Dorset Annual Print Collection yearly. She bore seventeen children, and many became significant artists in their own right. (See Pitseolak Ashoona: Life & Work by Christine Lalonde.)

  • Ashoona, Qaqaq (Ikirasak/Kinngait, 1928–1996)

    A hunter and trapper born in Ikirasak (formerly Ikerrasak), a camp on southern Baffin Island, who began carving in his mid-twenties, Qaqaq Ashoona carved his human and animal figures using only hand tools and notably worked in a local white marble. He was married to the artist Mayoreak Ashoona and was one of Pitseolak Ashoona’s sons.

  • Ashoona, Shuvinai (Kinngait, b.1961)

    A third-generation artist from Cape Dorset, Shuvinai Ashoona creates unconventional and imaginative graphic works that are widely collected and exhibited. Her work ranges from intensely coloured and intricate coloured-pencil drawings to boldly graphic stonecuts and monochromatic ink drawings of simple, isolated forms. (See Shuvinai Ashoona: Life & Work by Nancy G. Campbell.)

  • Ashoona, Sorosilutu (Kinngait, b. 1941)

    A prominent Cape Dorset artist who was encouraged as a young woman by her mother-in-law, Pitseolak Ashoona. Early on, Sorosilutu Ashoona was drawn to the colours that could be achieved through printmaking techniques. Her lithographs, stonecuts, and stencils often refer to Inuit stories familiar from her youth.

  • Ashton, Dore (American, 1928–2017)

    Known for her studies of Abstract Expressionism, Dore Ashton was a critic and art historian of the modernist New York artists of the post-Second World War era. Beginning as an art critic for the New York Times, she was an important advocate of the city’s abstract expressionist painters, a position that lead to her departure from the newspaper in 1960. As an art historian, Ashton published studies of both the individual artists Mark Rothko and Philip Guston, and of Abstract Expressionism in New York that defined the style as a school and movement representative of a significant generational shift in the history of art.

  • assemblage

    An assemblage, collage, or bricolage is a three-dimensional artwork created from found objects. The term “assemblage” was first used in the 1950s by the French artist Jean Dubuffet to describe his butterfly-wing collages; it was popularized in the United States in reference to the work of the American artists Robert Rauschenberg and Jim Dine.

  • Associated Artists

    Founded by Louis Comfort Tiffany in partnership with Samuel Colman, Lockwood de Forest, and Candace Wheeler in 1879, the collaborative Louis C. Tiffany and Associated Artists was an interior design firm in New York City. The company’s projects were strongly influenced by the British Aesthetic movement.

  • Aster, Howard (Canadian, b.1943)

    A writer, professor, and book publisher, Howard Aster is, with Mike Walsh, a founder of Mosaic Press, which publishes non-fiction, fiction, and poetry by Canadian authors. He held a post in the political science department at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, from 1970 until 2000.

  • astral plane/astral world

    Terms used in certain mystical traditions to refer to subtle, spiritual realms that correspond to yet are more refined than the physical realm.

  • astral travel

    Also referred to as astral projection, this is a mystic concept of shifting one’s consciousness to ever-higher planes of existence.

  • Ateliers d’art sacré

    Founded in 1919 by Maurice Denis and Georges Desvallières, the Ateliers trained artists to produce religious decoration for churches—particularly those destroyed in the First World War. This Paris-based initiative helped to renew interest in Christian art in France.

  • Atget, Eugène (French, 1857–1927)

    A photographer best known for his images of Paris on the cusp of the modern era. His photographs of Parisian city streets, architecture, and landmarks were influential for avant-garde artists like the Surrealists who were interested in the creative potential of his documentary works.

  • Atkins, Caven (Canadian, 1907–2000)

    Born in London, Ontario, and raised on the Prairies, this Canadian painter, printmaker, and commercial artist studied under Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald in Winnipeg and was also influenced by German Expressionism. As a commercial artist, Atkins worked alongside Bertram Brooker and Charles Comfort. From 1943 to 1945, he was the president of the Canadian Society of Painters in Water Colour.

  • Atlantic Realism

    Realism was embraced by several important artists from Canada’s Atlantic Provinces in the mid- and late twentieth century, including Miller Brittain, Christopher Pratt, Mary Pratt, Alex Colville, and Tom Forrestall. It remains an important variety of Canadian art.

  • atmospheric perspective

    The effect by which more distant elements and objects appear to take on the colour of the atmosphere, decrease in saturation, and increase in brightness, appearing hazy and less distinct. In landscape painting, atmospheric or aerial perspective is often employed for dramatic effect: the background and more distant elements are rendered with less definition, creating depth and a sense of space in the image.

  • autochrome process

    The first fully practical and widely successful process for colour photography, patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903 and commercially available by 1907. The autochrome process involved a single glass plate, which was treated with microscopic grains of dyed potato starch and then coated in a black and white panchromatic silver halide emulsion. Once the plate was exposed, a colour image with a distinctive granular texture would appear. The technique was popular for thirty years and was then replaced by roll film colour processes.

  • Automatics

    Refers to work produced through the technique of automatism, an art-making method associated with the modernist Surrealist movement in the early twentieth century. Influenced by Freudian theory, automatism seeks to prioritize the unconscious desires of the mind by suppressing purposeful or logical aesthetic choices and instead allowing the hand to write, draw, or paint the canvas in an uncontrolled, stream-of-thought manner.

  • automatism

    A physiological term first applied to art by the Surrealists to refer to processes such as free association and spontaneous, intuitive writing, drawing, and painting that allow access to the subconscious without the interference of planning or controlled thought.

  • Automatistes

    A Montreal-based artists’ group interested in Surrealism and the Surrealist technique of automatism. Centred on the artist, teacher, and theorist Paul-Émile Borduas, the Automatistes exhibited regularly between 1946 and 1954, making Montreal a locus of mid-century avant-garde art. Members included Marcel Barbeau, Marcelle Ferron, Jean-Paul Mousseau, Jean Paul Riopelle, Fernand Leduc, and Françoise Sullivan.

  • avant-garde

    From the French for “vanguard” or “advance guard,” avant-garde entered discussions about art in the early nineteenth-century work of the socialist thinker Henri de Saint-Simon, who believed that artists had a role to play in building a new society. The meaning of “avant-garde” has shifted over the years, referring to artists in relation to their times rather than to a particular group of artists working at a specific time in history. It connotes radicalism and rejection of a status quo and is often associated with work that is provocative and confrontational.

  • Avedon, Richard (American, 1923–2004)

    A highly influential photographer, he worked for major publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, producing iconic portraits and fashion photography that made his career. Other notable projects include his book In the American West, a book of photographic portraits of cowboys, miners, and others from the western United States that achieved widespread critical acclaim.

  • Aveline, Claude (French, 1901–1991)

    Born in Paris to Russian-Jewish parents who had fled persecution in their home country, Claude Aveline is the pseudonym of Evgen or Eugène Avtsine. He adopted the name in his late teens and would publish under it throughout his life, with the exception of a period during the German occupation of France in the Second World War during which he used the pen name Minervois. A prolific author and active member of the French Resistance during the war, Aveline wrote poetry, novels, memoir, and essays, was cited as an influence by Albert Camus, and was an important figure in the literary culture of Paris in the twentieth century.

  • Averns, Dick (Canadian, b.1964)

    A Calgary-based multi-disciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation, performance, and photography, Averns has taught at the University of Calgary, worked in arts administration, and curated exhibitions for the Founders’ Gallery at the Military Museums in Calgary. Averns travelled to the Middle East as a participant in the Canadian Forces Artists Program in 2009.

  • Aycock, Alice (American, b.1946)

    A Pennsylvania-born artist who established herself as an early proponent of the land art movement. Largely based in New York City, Aycock is best known for her large-scale public installations, in which she creates geometric shapes and overlapping forms using organic and industrial materials to explore metaphysical ideas, cybernetic concepts, and technological advancements.

  • Ayearst, Sheila (Canadian, b.1951)

    A Toronto-based artist whose paintings—often based on photographs—express concerns about differing versions of reality and the sometimes frightening aspects of “normal” spaces. Since 1977 Ayearst’s work has been exhibited in solo and group shows in Ontario, in Quebec, and internationally.

Download Download