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Art Gallery of Alberta

Rough Country: The Strangely Familiar in Mid-20th Century Alberta Art

Rough Country: The Strangely Familiar in Mid-20th Century Alberta Art

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An enlightening look at the influence of European expressionism on the work of modernist artists of the Canadian West. Evocative of the postwar social climate, the perspective these artists offer can be unsettling, uncanny and disturbing. Viewed together, their work brings a perspective to the province and its people that belies the myth of Alberta as a land of beauty and prosperity. With an impassioned approach to their subject matter, their works are intensely composed, executed with strong colours and distorted space. They are moved by the hardships of modern life and its contradictions, and in their works, melancholy contrasts with the vibrancy of everyday life. Mothers and children are featured in this feast of the strangely familiar, as are still-lives and landscapes. There are spectacles of clowns, fortune-tellers, nightclubs and circuses, and tales of ghosts and scarecrows. The accompanying essays trace the circulation of ideas between these artists and other artists across North America, which occurred through their own travels, cultural periodicals, as well as touring exhibitions in which these artists both participated in and visited. Their endeavours did not grow out of a desire for a strictly regionalist practice, but are embedded in a larger international discourse. Artists featured are: Maxwell Bates (1906-1980), Laura Evans Reid (1883-1951), John Snow (1911-2004), W.L. Stevenson (1905-1966) and Dorothy Henzell Willis (1899-1988).


56 pages

Art Gallery of Alberta; 1st edition

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