Toronto. It is over 70 years since I first saw this little painting by Tom Thomson. My public school had this small painting when I attended the school in the 1940s. The picture hung upstairs. A teacher told me he was in the Group of Seven.
Years later, I learned that Thomson died before the Group of Seven was formed but had his hand in the Group’s formation. My wife spotted the painting on a card in the AGO gift shop on Saturday when our oldest daughter drove us down to see “The Idea of North“, the popular exhibit (and book) curated by Hollywood’s Steve Martin. (The ride reminded me of taking the subway years ago at rush hour, hanging on for dear life.)
At the AGO, I learned that Lawren Harris created paintings of houses in the “Ward” before doing his epic mountain and glacier scenes, and near the end of his life, his more abstract images. When he did paintings of the houses less than two decades into the 20th century, colour photography was very rare, experimental, and expensive. Harris’s art was contrasted with the black and white photographs of the same period and area around city hall taken by city photographer Arthur Goss. The paintings gave colourful impact while the photos by Goss and William James were beautiful with their professional contrast and fine detail.
Another female Toronto photographer did equally beautiful modern colour prints with lots of detail and perfect colours. By comparison, the monochrome photos of the building of Nathan Phillips Square were of poor contrast and low resolution.