Top positive review
Superb, enlightening, art history at its finest
Reviewed in the United States on January 7, 2013
Ross King's well-received "The Judgment of Paris" convinced me that his 2010 book on Canada's "Group of Seven" would be informative and enlightening. I was right. King, apparently Canadian, details the emergence of the group pre-World War One, its struggle for recognition in a Canada, dominated by English art criticism and sensibilities, in an art world hostile to Canadian nationalism, and, finally post War, its acceptance in Canada as an artistic group worthy of museum wall space. The first part of the book deals primarily with Tom Thomson, his eccentric spirit, individuality, devotion to the backwoods, his extraordinary painting achievements and his untimely death by drowning in 1917. Though not the group's leader, the generous and supportive Lawren Harris, an artist of extraordinary scope and development, occupied that spot, Thomson's artistic force was - indeed - the group's focal point before and after his death. King adeptly juggles the separate lives of each of the seven actual members (J.E.H. MacDonald, F. H. Varley, Frank Johnston, A. Y. Jackson, Arthur Lismer, Frank Carmichael) and his thirty six (36) exquisite color plates acquaints the reader to the art of each. The group was intrinsically tied to the War and its aftermath; as King writes "they wanted to prove to the wider world; not merely Canadians, that Canadian art was modern, vital and unique - that Canada . . . could produce artists as well as soldiers."
This review coincides with the closing of an exhibition of the Group of Seven called "Painting Canada" at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection near Toronto. I look forward to buying the book "Painting Canada" as soon as it is sold.