Emily Carr and the legacy of Commonwealth modernism
in Engendering an avant-garde
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This chapter discusses the importance of landscape painting in the formation of early twentieth-century Canadian national identity, in particular the Theosophical aspirations and quest for the genius loci of the Group of Seven painters in Ontario, and Emily Carr in British Columbia. Jeff Wall’s published texts that describe the influence of Carr on his peers’ work, and their desire to work outside of the problematic of colonialism, necessitates this examination. Historian Lorenzo Veracini’s discussions of the many narratives utilized by settler colonial societies to authenticate and rationalize their rights to indigenous land are introduced in relationship to the discursive framing of texts that supported and documented Lawren Harris and Carr’s paintings. The national and regional legacy of spiritually-infused landscape painting was antithetical to young artists and intellectuals like Jeff Wall and Ian Wallace, who came to maturity in the late 1960s, and who were committed to revealing man’s alienation from his industrial environment through Marxist-informed critiques of capitalism.

Engendering an avant-garde

The unsettled landscapes of Vancouver photo-conceptualism


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