I received a copy of the new catalog for the Lawren Harris show that is currently showing at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles before moving to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston in the spring of 2016. The show, curated by comedian/actor/ avid art collector Steve Martin , is the first major show in the US for the Canadian artist, who passed away in 1970 at the age of 85. It’s a fabulous looking show if the catalog serves as any kind of indicator.
I’ve written a couple of times about his paintings and my consternation that they were somehow not known to us south of the Canadian border. In his intro Martin writes very much the same thing. We have embraced so many Canadians as our own in many other fields– Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Jim Carrey, and so many others that it would difficult to list them all– yet for some reason we have either not embraced Canadian painters or Canada has not been willing to share them with us.
I guess I could understand the latter. After giving us so many musicians, comedians and actors without so much as a thank you note from their neighbors to the south, they might want to keep something that they can call their very own. Something that speaks of its Canadian identity, its roots and sensibility.
But that may be coming to an end. You see, great painting, regardless of its origin and subject, transcends boundaries and speaks in a universal tongue. And the Canadian painters I show here do that. We may have been shielded from them for a hundred years or so but once they trickle through it will soon be a torrent. And I’m only talking about a group of painters from the early 20th century. Who knows what treasures are waiting to be discovered in that land to our north?
Maybe we will see them if we just show them a small bit of appreciation. Let me be the first to say “Thank You” for sharing your richness with us.