The Modern period, encompassing nearly a century of stylistic movements and social developments, was a time during which women moved from generally anonymous practitioners of craft to recognized and influential "artists". This is the period of "isms", including realism, impressionism, cubism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism - to name a few. Its dates are imprecise and debatable, but generally it is thought to begin in the last quarter of the 19th century and to extend through the third quarter of the 20th century. Women at the start of this period were often pioneers, not only in the formation of a particular style, but in finding the means to support themselves through their art. They often paved the way for increasing numbers of women to achieve elevated status in the realm of fine art.
The Modern period, encompassing nearly a century of stylistic movements and social developments, was a time during which women moved from generally anonymous practitioners of craft to recognized and influential "artists". This is the period of "isms", including realism, impressionism, cubism, surrealism, and abstract expressionism - to name a few. Its dates are imprecise and debatable, but generally it is thought to begin in the last quarter of the 19th century and to extend through the third quarter of the 20th century. Women at the start of this period were often pioneers, not only in the formation of a particular style, but in finding the means to support themselves through their art. They often paved the way for increasing numbers of women to achieve elevated status in the realm of fine art.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Paraskeva Clark became a key figure of the Canadian art scene between the 1930s and the 1950s. In her article "Come Out From Behind the Pre-Cambrian Shield", Clark defines the role of the contemporary educated artist who is preoccupied with meaningful themes. A politically outspoken and socially conscious artist, Clark turned to making war art. In Parachute Riggers, she paints women in the armed forces hard at work, raising awareness of women’s productivity and national contribution during the Second World War. Painting the realities of her day, Clark portrays women’s presence in the public sphere. Her dynamic composition and sharp angular viewpoint reveal her modernist training in the Cubist and Futurist styles.
Paraskeva Clark became a key figure of the Canadian art scene between the 1930s and the 1950s. In her article "Come Out From Behind the Pre-Cambrian Shield", Clark defines the role of the contemporary educated artist who is preoccupied with meaningful themes. A politically outspoken and socially conscious artist, Clark turned to making war art. In Parachute Riggers, she paints women in the armed forces hard at work, raising awareness of women’s productivity and national contribution during the Second World War. Painting the realities of her day, Clark portrays women’s presence in the public sphere. Her dynamic composition and sharp angular viewpoint reveal her modernist training in the Cubist and Futurist styles.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Paraskeva Clark

Paraskeva Clark (Russia, 1898—Canada, 1986). Oil painting on canvas by Paraskeva Clark.

Paraskeva Clark
1947
oil on canvas
101.70 x 81.40 cm
© Canadian War Museum


Sybil Andrews believed that modern art must evoke the spirit of its time. The subject matter of her work reflected the lives of working people, and the world around her. Her linocuts are characterized by contrasting colours, and an ongoing interest in the idea of movement, indicative of the impact of Futurist art on her work: "Our factories and industrial building[s] have a majesty all their own, a ... satanic strength, that calls for simplicity ...of treatment and cannot be properly represented by prettiness and picturesqueness of handling." – Sybil Andrews, c. 1920s. Sybil Andrews studied under Cyril E. Power, and trained in London, at the Heatherley’s School of Fine Art. At the Grosvenor School of Modern Art she learned the art of the linocut, the medium for which she is well known today. In 1947, she immigrated to Campbell River, B.C. where she continued to create her work, and taught art classes out of her studio until her death in 1992.
Sybil Andrews believed that modern art must evoke the spirit of its time. The subject matter of her work reflected the lives of working people, and the world around her. Her linocuts are characterized by contrasting colours, and an ongoing interest in the idea of movement, indicative of the impact of Futurist art on her work: "Our factories and industrial building[s] have a majesty all their own, a ... satanic strength, that calls for simplicity ...of treatment and cannot be properly represented by prettiness and picturesqueness of handling." – Sybil Andrews, c. 1920s. Sybil Andrews studied under Cyril E. Power, and trained in London, at the Heatherley’s School of Fine Art. At the Grosvenor School of Modern Art she learned the art of the linocut, the medium for which she is well known today. In 1947, she immigrated to Campbell River, B.C. where she continued to create her work, and taught art classes out of her studio until her death in 1992.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Sybil Andrews

Sybil Andrews (Bury St. Edmunds, England, 1898—Victoria, British Columbia, 1992). Linocut on paper by Sybil Andrews.

Sybil Andrews
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
1952
linocut on paper
26.60 x 31.70 cm
© Glenbow Museum


Video

Sybil Andrews

Transcript:
Narrator:

Initially, in the 1920s, Sybil earned her bread and cheese by selling her drypoints of popular buildings to Londoners and tourists. She began to make linocuts seriously in 1929. Many of them were included in linocut exhibits in London and abroad. These first linocut exhibits were important because they exposed audiences to the vitality and dynamism of colour linocuts.

Sybil Andrews:
They had never seen a group of colour prints like those before. They knew etchings, drypoints, and black and white, they knew those, but they didn’t know linocuts. Because, you see, Flight thought there were going to be tremendous results. But there weren’t the tremendous results; not many people buying them. To begin with it was very hard, when you never saw any sales, anything like today. For instance, we’ll take...I don’t remember the exact prices but I suppose I might have got three pounds for one like that, big horses (points to the print...)...somewhere in the area of three or four pounds, not very much.

Narrator:
By choosing subjects from the everyday world around her, Sybil was able to bring a new vision to subjects that might be otherwise overlooked or considered commonplace. The speed and movement of men on motorbikes, the patterns found in a crowded concert hall, the simplicity of country life in Bury St. Edmunds, and the construction of an underground railway station in London.

Sybil Andrews:
And there they were. They had a whole big team working on that, as far as you could see. A team of these men. And it was fun, you see, they were, "Heave, Ho! Heave, Ho!" to get all this lot working at once. Whereas today they would have a hug machine do the whole thing. So that, you see, the world was full of exciting patterns.

The scythe was used such a good deal in those days, it still is. Because for certain jobs a scythe will do, when nothing else will do. It will get into corners and round, so that you see the scythe all the time, it is a wonderful tool. The curve of the blade, and the curve here, all the way, and the curve, therefore they are using it on the curves, and when you see a team working as a team, it is very exciting - its like a ballet - you see three men, or four or five men behind, keeping the same movement, must keep the same movement or they cut one another’s feet off, you see. Literally. You get a tool with a blade this high and this wide....This, of course, is football, it explains itself.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Glenbow Museum, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Musée d'art de Joliette, Louisiana State Museum

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Born in Calgary, Stadelbauer received her art training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, the Banff Centre, and Columbia University in New York. Stadelbauer was an influential teacher and administrator, and was the first professor of the art department at the University of Calgary. She designed the Bachelor of Arts program in art, music and drama, playing an important role in the development of arts education in Calgary during her 31 years at the university. During this time she continued to paint, and a Canadian modernist approach to the landscape is evident in her work.
Born in Calgary, Stadelbauer received her art training at the Alberta College of Art and Design, the Banff Centre, and Columbia University in New York. Stadelbauer was an influential teacher and administrator, and was the first professor of the art department at the University of Calgary. She designed the Bachelor of Arts program in art, music and drama, playing an important role in the development of arts education in Calgary during her 31 years at the university. During this time she continued to paint, and a Canadian modernist approach to the landscape is evident in her work.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Helen B. Stadelbauer

Helen B. Stadelbauer (Calgary, Alberta, 1910—Calgary, Alberta). Oil painting on board by Helen B. Stadelbauer.

Helen B. Stadelbauer
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
date: n.d.
oil on board
45.30 x 60.80 cm
© Glenbow Museum Collection


Hamilton trained in Toronto and Berlin and worked in Paris for eight years, where she was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon. She became renowned for her portraiture and landscapes. In 1919 she was commissioned by the Amputation Club of British Columbia to provide artworks depicting the aftermath of the First World War for the veteran magazine The Gold Strip. This meant returning to France where she walked the battlefields of Vimy Ridge and the Somme, an act of incredible courage. As one reporter commented: "To go alone into the nightmare country of the Somme [sic] after Armageddon had passed...in order with paint and canvas to produce a lasting vision of the Inferno before kindly Nature had covered up the scars and sores inflicted by the sacrilegious hand of men...." – The Calgary Herald, April 24, 1922.
Hamilton trained in Toronto and Berlin and worked in Paris for eight years, where she was a regular exhibitor at the Paris Salon. She became renowned for her portraiture and landscapes. In 1919 she was commissioned by the Amputation Club of British Columbia to provide artworks depicting the aftermath of the First World War for the veteran magazine The Gold Strip. This meant returning to France where she walked the battlefields of Vimy Ridge and the Somme, an act of incredible courage. As one reporter commented: "To go alone into the nightmare country of the Somme [sic] after Armageddon had passed...in order with paint and canvas to produce a lasting vision of the Inferno before kindly Nature had covered up the scars and sores inflicted by the sacrilegious hand of men...." – The Calgary Herald, April 24, 1922.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Mary Riter Hamilton

Mary Riter Hamilton (Teeswater, Ontario, 1873—Vancouver, British Columbia, 1954). Oil painting on canvas by Mary Riter Hamilton.

Mary Riter Hamilton
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
date: n.d.
oil on canvas
116.40 x 89.40 cm
© Glenbow Museum Collection


Nicoll was among the first Alberta artists to seriously pursue abstraction. She trained at the Ontario College of Art, and at the Provincial Institute of Technology in Calgary, where she was introduced to automatic painting. She was fascinated by the possiblities of automatics, developing her skills in abstract composition. In 1957, Nicoll attended the Emma Lake Workshop, Saskatchewan, under New York abstractionist Will Barnet, and continued to study with him at the Art Students League in New York. Nicoll went on to become a successful artist and teacher. Her painting is characterized by bold forms and contrasting colours, abstractions of the world around her. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and the United States.

Nicoll was among the first Alberta artists to seriously pursue abstraction. She trained at the Ontario College of Art, and at the Provincial Institute of Technology in Calgary, where she was introduced to automatic painting. She was fascinated by the possiblities of automatics, developing her skills in abstract composition. In 1957, Nicoll attended the Emma Lake Workshop, Saskatchewan, under New York abstractionist Will Barnet, and continued to study with him at the Art Students League in New York. Nicoll went on to become a successful artist and teacher. Her painting is characterized by bold forms and contrasting colours, abstractions of the world around her. Her work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions across Canada and the United States.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Marion Nicoll

Marion Nicoll (Calgary, Alberta, 1909—Calgary, Alberta, 1985). Oil painting on canvas of Marion Nicoll.

Marion Nicoll
Photograph: Glenbow Museum
1959
oil on canvas
91.80 x 71.70 cm
© Glenbow Museum Collection


Marion Nicoll

Transcript :

Marion Nicoll:
"Yes, and Emily Carr, the first Emily Carrs I saw, phew! In Calgary, when I had gone back to Calgary and gone to the Tech [The Provincial Institute of Technology] I saw Emily Carrs. There was a show that came through. The head of the school, not [A.C.] Leighton, but the Principal, Dr. Carpenter, wouldn’t allow the show to be hung. It was outrageous. Leighton took us down in groups of three or four; unlocked the place where it was stored for the length of the exhibition, and put them on easels for us. And we came out of there....phew....I wept.

Interviewer:
"What was the response?"

Marion Nicoll: [Sounds of her weeping]
"Oh, I said, ’a woman, a painter!’ There weren’t many women painters established."

Interviewer:
"What was the nature of her exhibition?"

Marion Nicoll:
"The beautiful totem poles and the lovely ones in the forest that they trees went up, and the swirls."

Interviewer:
"Were they mythical?"

Marion Nicoll:
"To me they were vital...bursting with vitality."

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Glenbow Museum, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Musée d'art de Joliette, Louisiana State Museum

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Early in her career, Marcelle Ferron joined a group of Quebec artists called ‘Les Automatistes’. In 1948, she signed the group’s manifesto ‘Refus Global’. This important document challenged conservative thinking and attacked conformity in Quebec society. Ferron states: " We dared to be ourselves and found ourselves in the avant-garde…." This sense of vitality and individualism was reflected in her paintings. Peinture is characterized by energetic, sweeping strokes of oil colour applied in a thick impasto manner on a white canvas. Colour became Ferron’s vehicle for self-expression. For the artist, "…colour is life. It is most important."
Early in her career, Marcelle Ferron joined a group of Quebec artists called ‘Les Automatistes’. In 1948, she signed the group’s manifesto ‘Refus Global’. This important document challenged conservative thinking and attacked conformity in Quebec society. Ferron states: " We dared to be ourselves and found ourselves in the avant-garde…." This sense of vitality and individualism was reflected in her paintings. Peinture is characterized by energetic, sweeping strokes of oil colour applied in a thick impasto manner on a white canvas. Colour became Ferron’s vehicle for self-expression. For the artist, "…colour is life. It is most important."

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Marcelle Ferron

Marcelle Ferron (Louiseville, Quebec, 1924—Montreal, Quebec, 2001)

Marcelle Ferron
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1960
oil on canvas
73.20 x 92.00 cm
© McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Marcelle Ferron

Marcelle Ferron

Transcript:

"I left Canada because I needed to paint. I had to get out and about. I felt I was living in a ghetto. And I was never very fond of ghettos. And Paris, it was like the Refus Global - it was absolutely right for me. Artists were part of the scene - that’s what I call true culture. Artists had status, they belonged. In Montréal we were non-entities. In Paris, you might say, I found my personality. I defined myself, because there I felt free. A woman painter? It took me a long time to stop feeling guilty about being a painter. When you have kids and a house to look after, and everything else, you begin to feel that you are stealing time. But I feel much easier about that nowadays."

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Glenbow Museum, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Musée d'art de Joliette, Louisiana State Museum

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Joyce Wieland was born in Toronto, Ontario. After her marriage to artist Michael Snow and a move to New York in 1960, she developed a pronounced interest in alternate media in order to facilitate discussion on social, ecological, and nationalist concerns. She moved from paintings to film animation, to wall hangings and constructions, to film again, converging multi-disciplinary formats into a poignant dialogue about feminity as well as Canadian identity. Pierre Trudeau once uttered the phrase "reason over passion in government", and (of course, believing the opposite) she fashioned an over-sized quilt that, due to gender politics and craft references, recontextualized the meaning of the title. Wieland died in 1998 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Joyce Wieland was born in Toronto, Ontario. After her marriage to artist Michael Snow and a move to New York in 1960, she developed a pronounced interest in alternate media in order to facilitate discussion on social, ecological, and nationalist concerns. She moved from paintings to film animation, to wall hangings and constructions, to film again, converging multi-disciplinary formats into a poignant dialogue about feminity as well as Canadian identity. Pierre Trudeau once uttered the phrase "reason over passion in government", and (of course, believing the opposite) she fashioned an over-sized quilt that, due to gender politics and craft references, recontextualized the meaning of the title. Wieland died in 1998 due to complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Joyce Wieland

Joyce Wieland (1931—1998). Quilted cotton by Joyce Wieland.

Joyce Wieland
1968
quilted cotton
256.50 x 302.30 cm
© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


Video

Joyce Wieland

Transcript:
Orphaned at only nine years of age, Joyce Wieland found solace in her drawing and painting, which would eventually become her career. She was ahead of her time; she used traditional crafts like quilting and embroidery. Nor was she afraid to deal head on with the issues of the day. For the sixties, her art was refreshingly new. Yet her struggle with the art establishment was won when Joyce became the first woman to have a major exhibition of her work, staged during her lifetime, at Canada’s National Gallery. Joyce Wieland dislikes being called a feminist. She says she takes it for granted. But she’s convinced that men and women create art that, as she puts it, comes out differently.

Canadian Heritage Information Network
Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes, Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores, Glenbow Museum, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Musée d'art de Joliette, Louisiana State Museum

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.


A recipient of the Order of Canada, Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most prominent First Nations artists. Odjig’s artistic career flourished in the 1970s with the revival of Native culture. Her work is affected by the socio-political situation of her people. According to Odjig, Rebirth of a Culture, is a "rebirth of Indian Consciousness" or a celebration of the survival of a disappearing society. In this painting, Odjig represents symbolically a Native theme – renaissance of the Pow Wow – through the lens of Western Cubist and Surrealist styles. The painting also reflects Odjig’s association with the Woodland school of art, emphasizing flat forms and bold colours enveloped by thick sinuous lines.
A recipient of the Order of Canada, Daphne Odjig is one of Canada’s most prominent First Nations artists. Odjig’s artistic career flourished in the 1970s with the revival of Native culture. Her work is affected by the socio-political situation of her people. According to Odjig, Rebirth of a Culture, is a "rebirth of Indian Consciousness" or a celebration of the survival of a disappearing society. In this painting, Odjig represents symbolically a Native theme – renaissance of the Pow Wow – through the lens of Western Cubist and Surrealist styles. The painting also reflects Odjig’s association with the Woodland school of art, emphasizing flat forms and bold colours enveloped by thick sinuous lines.

© 2002, CHIN. All Rights Reserved.

Daphne Odjig

Daphne Odjig (1919—). Acrylic paint on canvas by Daphne Odijig.

Daphne Odjig
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1979
acrylic on canvas
128.00 x 160.00 cm
© McMichael Canadian Art Collection


Learning Objectives

The learner will:

  • Analyze works of art with the issue of gender in mind
  • Be aware of the role of women as they relate to their culture
  • Be conscious of the emotional impact that is caused and shaped by a work of art
  • Understand the issues surrounding the history and making of art by women
  • Explain the emergence and meaning of feminism in art and art history
  • Interpret meaning in women’s art and in women’s lives through art
  • Be aware of the challenges women have faced to be recognized as reputable in art history
  • Discuss how modernism in art is characterized by the development of a rapid succession of movements, each one attempting to redefine art’s purpose, subjects, forms, and the role of artists
  • Understand that many women artists were pioneers at the start of the modernist movement

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