Monday, July 25, 2011


One of my favourite things is to visit the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, just a bit north and to the west of Toronto. Set in 100 acres of conserved land, it's a wonder to walk around and photograph. The buildings are made of fieldstone and hand-hewn logs, according to the brochure.

A seat in the lobby made from one half of a tree trunk.

Trees are amazing.

A new and vivid creation.

The main building.

During my last visit to the McMichael Gallery, I made a new discovery: Marc-Aurèle Fortin.

The gallery's website told us:

Marc-Aurèle Fortin: The Experience of Colour, the first major museum exhibition devoted to the artist in more than 45 years, features a hundred or so paintings, prints, drawings and watercolours produced over four decades, between 1909 and 1949.

Fortin indelibly marked the Quebec imagination with the compositions of stately elms and colourful rural scenes for which he is best known. The exhibition presents views of Sainte-Rose, Île d’Orléans and the Charlevoix, Gaspé and Saguenay regions, depictions of the Quebec countryside of his day. It also includes a lesser-known but equally important aspect of his work: cityscapes. These urban views prove him a keen observer of the irreversible changes that modernity was bringing to Montreal in the 1920s and 30s.

The ExhibitionThis exhibition is a tribute to the landscape artist Marc-Aurèle Fortin (1888-1970), who painted for four decades in the rising tide of Quebec and Canadian modernity. The 107 works assembled here testify to his prolific output, from the early paintings done in Chicago, in 1909 and 1910, to the Gaspé and Saguenay region landscapes captured in the late 1940s, before health problems forced him to stop working. While remaining faithful to figurative art as a painter, watercolourist, printmaker and pastelist, he endlessly experimented with colour, the true focus of his inquiry.

In the 1920s and 30s, Fortin’s career took off with the success of his views of Montreal and its harbour and his depictions of large trees. These works earned him recognition in the art world, and this exhibition honours their outstanding quality. You will discover famous pieces and others less well known, all illustrating steps on a remarkable artistic journey marked by experimentation and freedom.

Well, I'm hooked. These small images, stopping just short of story-book charming, were lifted by me from the gallery's website.

Laurentian Landscape, 1919 (or earlier)

Railway Tracks at Hochelaga, 1931 or 1932

Saint-Siméon, 1938

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