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Canadian Art for a Canadian University

Painting of ox and sheep drinking from pond

Canadian Art for a Canadian University

April 8–March 6, 2004

Curated by the Department of Fine Art students in the Art Centre Exhibition Course

University of Toronto Art Centre

Since its inception 175 years ago, the University of Toronto has been a collecting institution and has played an integral role in supporting Canadian art. These efforts intensified in the early years of the twentieth century when emerging artists and members of the university yearned for a new and distinctively Canadian art.

At the Toronto Arts and Letters Club, a forum for the exchange of new aesthetic ideas, the artists who would form the Group of Seven met influential individuals affiliated with the University, including Dr. James MacCallum, Professor Barker Fairley, and Vincent Massey. Massey was the first Canadian-born Governor General of Canada and the man who conceived of and endowed Hart House, a recreational and cultural centre for University of Toronto students. MacCallum, Fairley and Massey would eventually rank among the most significant patrons of the Group.

As a result of such personal connections, members of the Group of Seven became intimately involved with the University of Toronto. Many Group of Seven members gave lectures at Hart House, served on the Hart House Art Advisory Committee, guided University College and Victoria College about art acquisitions and helped to organize exhibitions throughout the campus.

The Group of Seven achieved their goal of establishing a uniquely Canadian art. As the University of Toronto and University College commemorate their respective 175th and 150th anniversaries, Canadian Art For A Canadian University will be appropriately celebratory of the University’s role in their success.

Opening Reception

Friday April 11, 2003, 5-7pm
University of Toronto Art Centre

Title Image: J.E.H. MacDonald, Ox Team on the Bridge, 1922. Oil on board. 22 x 27 cm.