edited by Richard King ; with Ralph Croizier, Shengtian's Art in turmoil : the Chinese Cultural Revolution, 1966-76 PDF

By edited by Richard King ; with Ralph Croizier, Shengtian Zheng, and Scott Watson.

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Was it that of aboriginal populations, who use the term First Nations to describe themselves and who have long been negotiating the recovery of appropriated hereditary lands? Or that of sovereignist Quebecers, who had recently voted in large numbers to secede from the Canadian nationstate? 18 Or that of recent Asian immigrants, perhaps, whose experience of Canada was predominantly urban? Evidently it was none of these. Instead it was the imagined community formed around 1920, the year the Group of Seven officially established itself, a time much more Protestant and “imagined,” in Benedict Anderson’s sense of the term, than it was in 1996.

23 Like all modern traditions of art, the evolution of the Canadian tradition arose by processes of aesthetic mutation. Despite some assertions to the contrary, which have been discredited, the Group of Seven looked carefully at foreign art, including the work of several of the artists mentioned above. Examples from abroad were assimilated by the Group – and then transformed by them in their engagement with the local environment. Members of the Group travelled to the United States and Europe and were devoted readers of art periodicals, especially of The Studio.

The bond made them “visionaries of Art,” by which Laberge meant visionaries of a national art. Terre Sauvage was exemplary. 21 However, the discourses around it have produced a far more conflicted history than is generally acknowledged. The disagreements that course through what follows about how landscape should be represented – if it should be represented at all – underscore what has been at stake. If the Group of Seven and their associates have for a long time rivalled the popularity of the Impressionists in Canadian museum exhibitions and everyday representational culture, as can be seen in recurring exhibitions of their work, in holiday editions of newspapers, and in calendars marking the months and seasons with their paintings, it is not because audiences have been unanimous in thinking that their nationalist vision of Canada is the only one worth valuing.

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