From the Roaring Twenties and the Group of Seven to the Automatistes and the early Cold War, Canadian artists lived through and embodied an era of global tumult and change. With an interweaving of historical narrative, lavish illustrations, and writings by many of Canada's most revered cultural figures, Lora Senechal Carney illuminates the lives, perspectives, and works of the era's painters and provides glimpses of the sculptors, poets, dancers, critics, and filmmakers with whom they associated. Canadian Painters in a Modern World gives readers direct access to a carefully curated selection of writings, artworks, photos, and other documents that help to reconstruct the public spheres in which artists including Paul-Emile Borduas, Emily Carr, Alex Colville, Lawren Harris, David Milne, and Pegi Nicol MacLeod circulated. Each of the book's eight chapters consists of a narrative about a key issue or debate, focusing on the relationship of art to politics and society, and on how these are negotiated in an individual's life. Relating artistic engagement with and responses to the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, and the Cold War, Senechal Carney discovers a common desire for new connections between art and life. Revealing continuities, ruptures, and watershed moments, Canadian Painters in a Modern World showcases artistic production within specific socio-political contexts to shed new light on Canadian art during three decades of conflict and crisis.
Lora Senechal Carney taught at the University of Toronto for more than thirty-five years and served until recently as an editor of the national art history journal RACAR. She lives in Toronto.