British show raises Emily Carr’s international profile
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust, VAG 42.3.1, Photo: Trevor Mills, VAG.
"Totem and Forest"
Emily Carr, "Totem and Forest," 1931, oil on canvas, 50.9” x 22.1”.
Her art went largely unrecognized in her lifetime, but now, more than a century after spending time in London as an art student, Emily Carr is having a major show there. And unlike the young woman who suffered health problems in the city’s dank and gritty environs, the response to her exhibition at the Dulwich Picture Gallery has been decidedly robust.
Reviews are positive, and viewers are checking out the show, drawn to the work, yes, but also to the poignancy of the challenges Carr faced as a female artist in the early 20th century.
Carr is not well known outside Canada, and From the Forest to the Sea: Emily Carr in British Columbia follows the trajectory of her career, starting with her dark images of the coastal rainforest and opening up to later airier paintings that depict skies and shorelines that reverberate with energy. The show, which continues to March 8, 2015 also explores Carr’s relationship with aboriginal communities.
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Gift of Peter Bronfman, 1990, photo © NGC.
Emily Carr, "Self-portrait," 1938-1939, oil on wove paper, mounted on plywood, 33.7” x 22.7”.
Curated by Canadian art critic Sarah Milroy and Ian Dejardin, the director of the Dulwich, with help from James Hart, a Haida hereditary chief and master carver, it’s a joint project with the Art Gallery of Ontario, where the show will run April 11 to July 12, 2015.
What the critics are saying
“Carr is definitely an artist to reckon with, though even in a show as small as this one the number of times the same subject in the same format and colours is repeated without much change suggests that her range may have been limited.”
– Richard Dorment, The Telegraph
“If ever there was a heroine of true grit in the history of art it was Emily Carr, a painter of such singular strength and beauty it is almost impossible to believe that the revelatory exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery is her first in this country.”
– Laura Cumming, The Guardian
“I love the integration of the First Nation people into Carr’s work, her respect of others and their heritage, the almost sculptural carved forms of both trees and indigenous art; but it is the room of mere trees that captivates me. Surrounded by thickets of trunks, the lightness and freshness of touch, I can almost feel the wind in my hair.”
— Karen Wright, The Independent