Writing about Steve Martin trumpeting Lawren Harris inevitably leads me to think of Lionel LeMoine Fitzgerald . Some of you may wonder “Who?” Fitzgerald was also a member of the Group of Seven, and the only prairie artist in the lot.
I think I fell in love with FitzGerald’s work experiencing it at the Winnipeg Art Gallery. (FUN FACT: The WAG is Canada’s oldest civic art gallery, opening in 1912.) He was born in Winnipeg in 1890, and was one of the first principals of the Winnipeg School of Art, which is now the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. ( FUN FACT #2 The same group of people, The Winnipeg Industrial Bureau, founded the art gallery, and the school. They had lofty goals of cultural development, progress and shaping the civilization of Western Canada. Wow. When was the last time you heard a business person talking like that?)
Abstract: Gold and Green, 1954, L. L. Fitzgerald
FitzGerald spent most of his life in Winnipeg, with studies in Pittsburgh and New York City. He worked primarily in drawing, oil and watercolour painting and printmaking. If you click here, you can see a mural by Charlie Johnston that commemorates FitzGerald’s life in Winnipeg.
I’m glad Canadian painting, and Lawren Harris in particular, are getting publicity because of Steve Martin’s interest. Wouldn’t it be great if we could match up some more celebrities with deserving artists? Any thoughts on who might be a great (or fun!) match with L. L. FitzGerald?
We live in a curious time, don’t we? Celebrities absorb enormous amounts of attention in the world. Some people are famous for the most unlikely reasons….but we won’t discuss the psychology of our society’s values. Instead, let’s talk about Steve Martin as curator of a Lawren Harris show at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
Yes! Steve Martin, the actor and comedian (if you haven’t seen Trains, Planes and Automobiles you must find 90 minutes this week to watch it), and Lawren Harris, the Canadian painter and founding member of the Group of Seven…. a bit of an unlikely pairing, wouldn’t you say?
Planes, Trains and Automobiles, 1987, John Hughes
Nonetheless, The Idea of North is the first solo exhibition of Harris’ work in the United States. Celebrity has its influence! The show is organized by the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles and the Art Gallery of Greater Ontario, and curated by Steve Martin.
The Museum of Fine Arts organized a panel discussion with Steve Martin, Adam Gopnik, (writer) and, Erik Fischl (artist) that sold out in 8 minutes! (Faster than Jets’ season tickets!) If you were like me, and wished you had been there, click here to watch it. I found the discussion of the mythology of Canada and the north interesting; Erik Fischl had some interesting insights into the reasons why Canadian artists/painters haven’t ‘broken’ into America to the same degree as, say, entertainers. (We might call them celebrities…)