Why is the "Group of Seven" the most influential group of painters in Canada?

Essay by airic_37High School, 10th gradeA, September 2003

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Hollywood movies and European-styled paintings were showing a false image of Canada. "Many Canadians felt a growing need to portray their land more honestly."1 The Group of Seven was a group of landscape painters who took up the challenge and transformed the misleading and stereotyped ways that Canada and its people were portrayed in. The seven founding artists of the famous Group were: Lawren S. Harris, J.E.H. MacDonald, Arthur Lismer, Frederick Varley, Frank Johnston, Franklin Carmichael and A.Y. Jackson.

Before the Group of Seven emerged from Toronto, Canadian landscape painting often imitated European styles and themes. The Group were regarded as the creators of a national style of painting that did not use the academic formulas of painting found in Europe. They chose to revive Canadian art and create a new tradition that did not rely on European trends. The efforts of the Group of Seven changed the perception of Canadian art as art that should have a European sensibility to that which should be unique to Canada.

The paintings of the Group of Seven represent a landscape that is distinctly Canadian. The Group of Seven emerged during a time of an absence of a defined Canadian art and after World War I, the war from which Canada emerged with an even stronger feeling of nationalism. Members shared a similar dissatisfaction with the state of Canadian art and wanted to paint in a truly Canadian artistic style. "One important outcome of the Group's nationalism was their attempt to convince Canadians that they needed to have an art of their own if Canada were to be a great country."2 They gave many Canadians a sense of national identity and enabled them to discover the beauty of their own country.

The Group of Seven inspired a national art. "A...