• Walker, Dame Ethel (British, 1861–1951)

    A sculptor and painter of portraits, flower studies, and landscapes trained at London’s Slade School of Art. Walker’s palette, sombre at first, brightened over the course of her career to hues more evocative of Impressionism. In 1900 she became the first woman member of the New English Art Club, founded in 1885 as an alternative to the more conventional Royal Academy.

  • Walker, Eric (Canadian, b. 1957)

    A painter and mixed-media artist influenced by Paterson Ewen and specializing in stylized Canadian landscapes, urban geographies, and aerial views, Walker studied at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax. His works are found in, among other collections, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and the City of Ottawa.

  • Walker, Horatio (Canadian, 1858–1938)

    Although born and raised in rural Ontario, Walker specialized in paintings of French rural life, especially on Île d’Orléans, Quebec, where he lived for many years and where he took up permanent residence in 1928. His widely admired art drew upon Jean-François Millet’s depictions of the rural poor in France and the naturalism of the Barbizon school. Walker was a founding member of the Canadian Art Club in 1907, serving as the club’s president in 1915.

  • WalkingStick, Kay (Cherokee, b. 1935)

    A prominent practitioner of contemporary landscape painting, WalkingStick is known for creating monumental works that communicate spiritual truth and the symbolic importance of land in relation to its first inhabitants and all its citizens. Her work engages with Indigenous cultural identity and history, feminism, and Minimalism, and other art historical movements. Her first major retrospective was a touring exhibition, which opened at the National Museum of the American Indian in 2015.

  • Wall, Jeff (Canadian, b. 1946)

    A leading figure in contemporary photography since the 1980s, whose conceptual, life-size colour prints and backlit transparencies often refer to historical painting and cinema. Wall’s work exemplifies the aesthetic of what is sometimes called the Vancouver School, which includes the photographers Vikky Alexander, Stan Douglas, Rodney Graham, and Ken Lum, among others.

  • wampum belt

    A belt created from purple and white wampum beads made from clamshells. Traditional to Eastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples, wampum belts have various purposes, generally ceremonial and diplomatic in nature. The belts’ coded and symbolic bead arrangements may be used to invite other nations to a meeting, serve as a record of an agreement or treaty, or represent leadership positions or a person’s certificate of office. For the Haudenosaunee, for instance, wampum belts are also used to raise a new chief and as a way to bind peace between nations.

  • Wang, Zhan (Chinese, b. 1962)

    A sculptor known for his conceptual art, including his stainless-steel jiashanshi. Chinese artists traditionally placed gnarled stones—jiashanshi (literally “fake mountain rocks”)—in public areas for meditation and decoration, and scholars admired the naturally eroded shapes. Wang’s work, which pairs contemporary materials with customary practices, considers the changing nature of tradition in modern times.

  • Warhol, Andy (American, 1928–1987)

    One of the most important artists of the twentieth century and a central figure in Pop art. With his serial screen prints of commercial items like Campbell’s Soup cans and portraits of Marilyn Monroe and Elvis, Warhol defied the notion of the artwork as a singular, handcrafted object.

  • Watson, Sydney H. (Canadian, 1911–1981)

    A commercial artist, painter, and educator, Watson was a member of the Canadian Group of Painters and an instructor and eventually head of the Ontario College of Art (now OCAD University), Toronto. His work is held by the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa; the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinberg, Ontario; and Hart House at the University of Toronto.

  • Waugh, Samuel Bell (American, 1814–1885)

    A painter who lived for several years in Toronto, working as a self-taught portraitist and managing the Theatre Royal, which produced panoramas, recitations, and dance shows. He later studied painting in Rome and Naples before returning to the United States where he established himself as a portraitist and landscape painter. His two critically acclaimed panoramas of Italy were exhibited in Philadelphia in the mid-1850s.

  • Weatherbie, Vera (Canadian, 1909-1977)

    A member of the first graduating class of the Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts in 1929, Weatherbie was a painter and an influential figure in the city’s art scene. Romantically involved with fellow painter Frederick Varley, she served as a model for some of his best-known portraits and taught at the British Colombia College of Art. In 1942 she married art critic Harold Mortimer-Lamb, father of painter Molly Lamb Bobak.

  • Weber, Max (American, 1881–1961)

    A Russian-born painter, sculptor, printmaker, and writer, trained as an artist in Paris. Weber’s early admiration and adoption of European modernist movements—including Fauvism and Cubism—made him one of the most significant artists of the American avant-garde.

  • Weider, Jozo (Czech/Canadian, 1907–1971)

    This Czech-born Canadian immigrant was, with Denis Tupy, cofounder of Blue Mountain Pottery, a Canadian pottery brand collected internationally and recognized for its unique glazing process.

  • Weissenbruch, Jan (Dutch, 1824–1903)

    Leading member of the Hague School, best known for his watercolour paintings of landscapes, beaches, and cityscapes of Dutch life. Weissenbruch trained with Johannes Low and the scenery painter Bart van Hove, travelling abroad only to visit Paris and the village of Barbizon.

  • West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative (Kinngait Studios)

    Established in 1960 as a formalized organization for the Inuit co-operatives that had been operating in the eastern Arctic since the 1950s, the West Baffin Eskimo Co-operative is an artists’ co-operative that houses a print shop. It markets and sells Inuit carvings and prints, in particular through its affiliate in the South, Dorset Fine Arts. Since approximately 2006 the arts and crafts sector of the co-op has been referred to as Kinngait Studios.

  • West, Benjamin (American/British, 1738–1820)

    Influential painter of historical, mythological, and religious subjects, as well as commissioned portraits. West co-founded the Royal Academy of Arts in London and served as its president in 1792. One of his most recognized paintings, The Death of General Wolfe (1770), is a fictionalized portrayal of the death of British general James Wolfe at the Battle of the Plains of Abraham (1759) during the Seven Years’ War.

  • Western Front, Vancouver

    A Vancouver artist-run centre founded by eight artists in 1973. A locus of innovative artistic activity throughout the 1970s and 1980s, it played a key role in the development of interdisciplinary, ephemeral, media-based, performance, and electronic art. It remains an important centre for contemporary art and music.

  • Weston, W.P. (Canadian, 1879–1967)

    A significant figure in Canadian painting whose expressionistic and imaginative landscapes recall those of his better-known contemporaries the Group of Seven and Emily Carr. Weston was the first West Coast artist to be elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. His work is held by major institutions around the country.

  • wet collodion process

    A photographic process introduced by Frederick Scott Archer in 1851 and popular until the 1880s. It is typically used in the elaboration of negatives. Made from gun cotton, collodion was poured onto a glass plate and sensitized; the plate then had to be exposed and developed immediately.

  • Whistler, James McNeill (American/British, 1834–1903)

    Whistler, a painter and printmaker, was a leading promoter of “art for art’s sake”: the doctrine that an artist should create evocative visual experiences based principally on the subtle harmonization of colour, not on sentiment or moral lessons. Believing that painting and music had much in common, he used music references in the titles of many of his paintings, including Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 (1871; better known as Whistler’s Mother). In 1877 the art critic John Ruskin accused him of “flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face” when Whistler exhibited Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket. Whistler sued Ruskin, but was awarded damages of only one farthing.

  • White, R. Lee (American, b. 1951)

    An artist who drew imagery from Plains Indigenous art and claimed to be a member of the Sioux Nation. In the 1990s White came under criticism when it was revealed that he was not of Indigenous descent.

  • Wieland, Joyce (Canadian, 1930–1998)

    A central figure in contemporary Canadian art, Wieland engaged with painting, filmmaking, and cloth and plastic assemblage to explore with wit and passion ideas related to gender, national identity, and the natural world. In 1971 she became the first living Canadian woman artist to have a solo exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. (See Joyce Wieland: Life & Work by Johanne Sloan.)

  • Wilde, Oscar (Irish, 1854–1900)

    A popular and controversial playwright and poet, known for works such as The Picture of Dorian Grey (1890) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Wilde had an international reputation for his brilliant wit, sparkling prose, flamboyant clothing, advocacy of the Aesthetic Movement, and insistence on the importance of beauty in daily life and the autonomy of art. His imprisonment from 1895 to 1897 for gross indecency remains a touchstone in LGBTQ2+ history.

  • Wilfred, Thomas (American, 1889–1968)

    The first artist known to have worked exclusively in light as his preferred medium. Beginning in 1919 with his invention of the Clavilux light organ, Wilfred composed sequences of light forms designed to be played on the machine and projected on a dark screen. Called lumia, his compositions resemble the aurora borealis and are durational, lasting from 5 minutes and 15 seconds to 9 years, 127 days, and 18 hours. 

  • Willard, Tania (Secwepemc, b. 1977)

    An artist and curator, and an increasingly important figure in Canadian arts and culture. A member of Secwepemc Nation, Willard’s community-engaged practice often explores the common ground between Aboriginal and other cultures. Her exhibition Beat Nation: Art, Hip Hop and Aboriginal Culture toured nationally after opening at the Vancouver Art Gallery in 2011.

  • William Brymner Prize

    Established in 1933, this prize for painting in oil or watercolour was reserved for Quebec artists under the age of thirty-five. Awarded by the Art Association of Montreal and funded by a group of friends of William Brymner, a Scottish-born Canadian painter and professor of art history.

     

  • Williams, Saul (Anishinaabe, b. 1954)

    Associated with the Woodland School and the Triple K Cooperative, Williams is a painter and graphic artist whose subjects include Indigenous myths and legends, spirits, and animals, which he portrays in the X-ray style.

  • Wilson, Daniel (Scottish/Canadian, 1816–1892)

    An artist and scholar of early British history and the indigenous populations of North America. Wilson left Edinburgh for Canada in 1853 to chair a department at the newly founded University College, Toronto. His study of Native culture informed his enlightened view that all humankind shares ingenuity and ability and that geographical and climatic circumstances rather than biological destiny determine any society’s development.

  • Wilson, Edward L. (American, 1838–1903)

    A photographer and editor of the journal Philadelphia Photographer, and a friend of William Notman, Wilson was the sole official photographer of the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, the first world’s fair held in the United States.

  • Wilson, York (Canadian, 1907–1984)

    A painter, collagist, and prominent muralist who lived for many years in Mexico. Wilson worked as a commercial illustrator prior to the 1930s, and while he experimented with abstraction for much of his life, he never abandoned his concern for drawing technique, which he worked continually to refine.

  • Winnipeg Sketch Club

    One of the oldest clubs of its kind in Canada, the Winnipeg Sketch Club was formed out of the Winnipeg School of Art in 1914 by A.J. Musgrove, the school’s first principal. Its first exhibition was held in 1916. The club emphasizes drawing and painting from life and counts among its members Lionel LeMoine FitzGerald, Frank Johnston, Eric Bergman, and Charles Comfort.

  • Wols (German, 1913–1951)

    A painter, photographer, illustrator, and poet who studied at the Bauhaus. Wols (the pseudonym of Alfred Otto Wolfgang Schulze) was active in Parisian Surrealist circles in the 1930s and helped establish Tachism and Art Informel, movements considered the European counterparts to American Abstract Expressionism.

  • Wolstenholme, Colleen (Canadian, b. 1963)

    Wolstenholme is a prolific artist and educator whose provocative, multidisciplinary practice encompasses collage, pen-and-ink drawing, embroidery, jewellery, and sculpture (for which she is perhaps best known). Her work is held in numerous Canadian institutions including Montreal’s Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia in Halifax, and the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. She was shortlisted for the prestigious Sobey Art Award in 2002.

  • Women’s Art Association of Canada

    This association, founded in 1887 by Mary Dignam, who was also the association’s first president, was inspired by the Art Students League in New York. Today it is a non-profit organization of approximately two hundred members that provides scholarships to women in various fields of fine art and crafts.

  • Women’s Art Society of Montreal

    Founded in 1894 by Mary Martha Phillips and Mary Alice Skelton, the society advocated for women artists who had difficulty obtaining public showings of their work. Originally a branch of the Women’s Art Association, incorporated in Toronto in 1892, it became independent in 1907. The society supported soldiers during and after the First World War through fundraising efforts and establishing the Soldiers’ Fund to aid disabled veterans. It continues to promote women’s rights in the arts today.

  • Wood, Elizabeth Wyn (Canadian, 1903–1966)

    Lauded in her time, this experimental sculptor created simplified and rigorous monuments, portraits, figures, and landscape sculptures in equally diverse materials. Wood was also an important and influential figure in Canadian modern art circles; she was a founder of Sculptors’ Society of Canada and a teacher at Central Technical School in Toronto for nearly three decades.

  • Wood, Grant (American, 1891–1942)

    An important regionalist painter of the American Midwest, best known for his endlessly reproduced and parodied double portrait American Gothic, 1930.  His interest in Netherlandish art of the fifteenth century is evident in his work from the late 1920s on, with its hard edges, strong colours, and meticulously executed details.

  • woodcut

    A relief method of printing that involves carving a design into a block of wood, which is then inked and printed, using either a press or simple hand pressure. This technique was invented in China and spread to the West in the thirteenth century.

  • Woodland School (of art)

    In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Norval Morrisseau pioneered this school of artistic practice. Key characteristics of Woodland School art include the fusion of traditional Ojibway imagery and symbols with sensibilities of modernism and Pop art, as well as the fusion of X-ray-style motifs with bold colours and interconnected, curvilinear lines. Alex Janvier, Daphne Odjig, and Carl Ray are other prominent artists associated with the Woodland School.

  • Wright, Willard Huntington (American, 1888–1939)

    A respected art critic and the brother of Stanton Macdonald-Wright. His book Modern Painting: Its Tendency and Meaning (1915) and numerous articles helped to promote Synchromism. He later became a successful detective novelist under the pen name S.S. Van Dine.

  • Wyeth, Andrew (American, 1917–2009)

    A painter who conveyed the people and pastoral landscapes of his rural Pennsylvania community in spare, poetic images. Though he received high critical praise for some paintings, including his famous Christina’s World, 1948, his realist, regionalist work was considered out of step with contemporary art for much of his career.

  • Wyle, Florence (American/Canadian, 1881–1968)

    Prominent sculptor and designer who, together with her partner Frances Loring, shaped the landscape of Canadian sculpture. Influenced by classical Greek sculpture, Wyle specialized in anatomy and depicted women in various poses, from undertaking manual labour to the erotic. Wyle was a co-founder of the Sculptors Society of Canada and the first woman sculptor awarded full membership to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.

  • Wyse, Alexander (British/Canadian, b. 1938)

    A prolific printmaker, painter, and multimedia artist whose work reflects an abiding interest in the natural world. Wyse immigrated to Canada in 1961 and settled in Cape Dorset, where he taught engraving. He moved to Ontario in 1964 and currently lives in Ottawa.

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