Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings
Reviewed: September 23, 2008
By: Anne Newlands
Publisher: Firefly Books
366 pages, $69.95
While I realize that if you’re paring down the history of Canadian art
to a mere 164 representative examples you can’t include everyone, my personal
objections to Newlands’ selection of artists would have to be the omission
of Robert Bateman and Ted Harrison. Any book that would include Ken Danby ought
to be able to come up wth a Bateman, and certainly Harrison’s work is
one of the signature styles to come out of the Yukon.
Enough about that. Newland’s book isn’t a history of Canadian art,
though it spans time from the 17th century to the present. The works are organized
in alphabetical order, by artist, and so the styles and themes are all over
the artistic map. There’s literally something for everyone between these
Newlands’ opening essay does provide a nine page historic overview of
the Canadian art scene, but the rest of the book tends to focus on individual
pieces and artists rather than trends or movements.
This is a coffee table sized book, one that works best on a table or in your
lap. The high quality paper and its size make it way too heavy to hold any other
way. Each double spread contains a reproduction on the right hand page and Newlands’
commentary on the left. The commentary mixes art criticism with a bit of biography,
focussing on a piece of work which Newlands felt was representative of that
In this fashion, she works her way from Luke Anguhadluq to Tim Zuck. The latter
was the subject of an exhibition and artist’s talk at the ODD Gallery
in Dawson City a few years ago, and the painting chosen for this book, “Yukon”,
is the same one used on the exhibition poster here.
This is not a quick book. You will find yourself looking at only a few items
each time you sit down with it, and it will take you a while to get through.
That’s not a criticism. It’s a lovely book and it repays the time