December 13 – Happy Birthday, Emily Carr

Posted on December 13, 2014
A Canadian icon was born today!

That's what the Canadian Encyclopedia says, anyway.

Emily Carr, born in Victoria, British Columbia, on this date in 1871, was an artist and writer; she is best known for her paintings. A lot of her work was inspired by aboriginal peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. But she also was inspired by the amazing landscapes of her surroundings.

While she was in her 20s, Carr made sketching and painting trips to aboriginal villages of Canada and Alaska. She wanted to her her art to document the artistic legacy of the people she met in those villages.

Wanting to learn even more about art, Carr went to France for a few years and studied in one of the art academies. She was disturbed but intrigued by the modernist painters she met there – especially by the use of distortion and by the bright colors. When she returned home to Canada, she began to use bright colors herself.

Carr is considered important in Canadian art partly because she is one of the first to have broken out of the just-a-realistic-landscape box. Her work blended “natives and nurture” and Western forests in a way that was uniquely her own.

What is modern art?

An ad for a movie about Carr combines
an image of her face superimposed on a
picture of one of her beloved forests...
We consider Modern Art to be works produced roughly from the 1860s to the 1970s, beginning with painters such as Vincent van Gogh and Paul Gauguin and continuing with innovators such as Pablo Picasso. Modern artists experimented with new ways of seeing, new ways of using materials, new ways of thinking about the function of art.

Many modern artists experimented with abstractions, but Carr said that she “clung to earth and her dear shapes, her density, her herbage, her juice.” 

Also on this date:

Anniversary of Tasman's “discovery” of New Zealand 

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