A founding member of the Group of Seven and a major figure in the history of twentieth-century Canadian art, Lawren Harris (1885-1970) remains largely unknown in the United States. This year the AGO is partnering with the Hammer Museum to introduce Harris’s iconic landscapes to audiences in Los Angeles and Boston. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris will be the first major solo exhibition of his work to be shown in the United States, and opens in Toronto in July of 2016.
The exhibition is curated by comedian, musician, actor and writer Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum, and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the AGO.
The AGO’s installation offers an expanded experience, curated by Hunter. It opens with a selection of Harris’ early paintings from the 1910s, many of which depict the complex and culturally diverse Ward neighbourhood in Toronto, where the artist spent his formative years. Visitors will then experience the core of the exhibition, followed by a special epilogue that explores the influence of Harris’ landscapes on Canadian identity (“the idea of north”) in relation to the city. The impact of Harris’ art and legacy can be seen through historical photogaphs by Arthur Goss in addition to the works of several contemporary Canadian artists including Nina Bunjevac, Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, Tin Can Forest and Anique Jordan. Combined with the core exhibition, this enhanced presentation of The Idea of North features over 80 works in total.