slide school | emily carr

slide school is a bi-weekly education session (with myself ;) in which i attempt to remember bits and pieces i learned about specific artworks in my university art history classes. i get to peek at my notes, but not online. for more details about slide school - visit this post.

but before i show you today's slide, i want to tell you a story. when i was in university i took an art class called "canadian art." it was a lot of landscapes, a lot of what one expects from canadian art. as i mentioned in the first ever slide school post, before an exam i would carry around flash cards with me. i would find people to quiz me and test my art historical knowledge. one day, that person happened to be my aunt keke.* she did the task dutifully but soon became bored of the artwork. we found ourselves giggling over the fact that every work looked the same. and i still feel that way about "canadian art" - when i'm flipping through an auction catalogue or viewing canadian retrospective exhibitions. i can't help but think how they all look similar. i can still recognize specific artists - homer watson, a.y. jackson, lawren harris...emily carr...but there's an intrinsic sameness that makes me shake my head with despair.

because canadian art is so much more than that! it's jean paul riopelle, pat martin bates and alex janvier. it's annabelle marquis, and jen mann and lara scarr. it's amazing abstract and contemporary artists!! but, like my aunt, many people have an idea stuck in their heads about what canadian art is. it's not their fault, and i'm not sure who's fault it is - maybe museum curators and publishers of coffee table books. they perpetuate the still landscape made up of blues and greens and browns. zzzz...kill me now.

which brings me to...

image** scanned via heffel fine art auction catalogue 2010

*if you are doing some sort of school project and ended up here, please note i cannot guarantee that any of this information below is even remotely accurate!

title | i don't know...happy trees?
artist | emily freaking carr
date | 1940?
medium | a little early for acrylics so i'll say oil on canvas - or board?
art historical period | modern art
three facts | so the funny thing about emily carr is that there are so many rumours that swirl around about her, that i can't remember anything solid about her art. or maybe it's because i find her artwork to be so boring, and so over rated. okay, she was a women! okay, she painted the pacific northwest. okay, she was friendly with the native, i get it! the things i remember most about emily car are that she kept a menagerie of animals, was grouchy, and tied her chairs to the ceiling.

so that's it - that's the extent of my knowledge. and maybe i'm not giving her a fair chance. i'm totally open to anyone who wants to educate me further about why her work is so damn amazing. i'm the first to say that if you don't like a work, "learn something about it" and then maybe you will. it just seems to me that there are innumerable other canadian artists that deserve our attention - just sayin. give it a rest emily.

title | young arbutous
artist | emily carr
date | 1939
medium | oil on paper on board (wha??)
art historical period | modernism and post impressionism

* best person you'll ever meet.
** just to rub salt in my wound - this piece was being auctioned for 125,000-175,000 in 2010.


  1. Hmm, not a huge Emily Carr fan either, even if she did have a monkey. I think it's the theme that Canadian art and the landscape are inexorably connected that gets pushed in art history, but in truth art can take many directions and not everyone likes to hike to the mountain top and paint outside (bugs! nosy hikers! bad weather!)
    However there is a Canadian art exhibition now on at the Mass MoCA that looks modern and interesting: http://www.massmoca.org/event_details.php?id=663

  2. Anonymous6.6.12

    if you had a "like" button i would click it, that painting is awesome.


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