Group of Seven

Steve Martin searches out the Group of Seven


News that actor-comedian Steve Martin is co-curating a major exhibition of Lawren Harris underscores the rising international interest in Group of Seven art.  Accolades for the rebellious group of Canadian painters poured in two years ago when Dulwich Picture Gallery mounted an explanatory show in London, triggering a flow of stories by British journalists who trekked to Canada in search of the wilderness that inspired the quirky crew.


Many Canadians can name their favorite Lawren Harris – mine is a toss-up between Bylot Island (above) and North Shore Lake Superior (below). But outside Canada, Group of Seven works until recently were largely unknown. Harris paintings in particular are serious business now, shooting up in value around the time of the London show.

harris_north-shore-lake-superiorMartin – a long-time art collector –  is developing an exhibition of Harris pieces from the 1920s and ’30s, aiming to introduce the sharp-edged, spiritually inspired works to an international audience. The show will open at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles in fall 2015, tour the U.S., then go to the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.

martin-collectorMartin once told Time magazine: “Collecting art is my biggest hobby … this art is so different from what I do that it’s an escape for me.”  The Bellagio Gallery of Fine Art in Las Vegas hosted an exhibition of his holdings in 2001, including works by Picasso, Seurat, Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud and David Hockney. The Art Gallery of Ontario  says Martin believes Lawren Harris is “an overlooked artist of great accomplishment and significance.”

ice-house-coldwell-lake-superior-1923-Ice House, Coldwell, Lake Superior,  (1923)

Harris (1885 – 1970) produced a remarkable body of work that significantly informed an image of Canada and remains deeply rooted in the country’s identity. For many Canadians, his scenes of cold and empty northlands, isolated peaks and expanses of dark water washing up on barren shorelines are essential images of their country.  – Art Gallery of Ontario

8 replies »

  1. I was surprised when I found out that the Group of Seven stayed in my cabin on Mongoose Lake and am looking forward to see the film premier in the Soo next week.


  2. This is awesome! I’ve been told that I am a descendant of Harris and have always felt a connection with his work. I hope this possible show goes on tour!


    • Well that’s a fascinating heritage! I think the plans are for it to go on tour, but it’s not at an advanced enough stage yet to know. Glad you found this post.


  3. Reblogged this on ArtLERT and commented:
    Friends Cheryl and Matt in Toronto introduced us to the Group of Seven at the Art Gallery of Ontario — and what a treat to read about this forthcoming show and its unexpected curator.


  4. Wonderful introduction to a new artist for me. I love pine tree and red house, and spring-oxtongue river. Never knew about Martin’s hobby either. Nice to be able to afford a bit of what you like!


  5. Reblogged this on Musings From The Studio and commented:
    I love the work of painter Lawrence Harris, and if you haven’t discovered The Canadian Art Junkie blog yet, give yourself a treat and follow her blog! Enjoy these stunning paintings of the Canadian wilderness. The light! Oh my!


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