National Visions, National Blindness: Canadian Art and Identities in the 1920s

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9780774812184: National Visions, National Blindness: Canadian Art and Identities in the 1920s

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Canada sought to define itself as an independent dominion with allegiance to the British Empire. The visual arts were considered central to the formation of a distinct national identity, and the Group of Seven's landscapes became part of a larger program to unify the nation and assert its uniqueness. National Visions, National Blindness traces the development of this program and illuminates its conflicted history.

Using newly discovered archival evidence, Leslie Dawn revises common interpretations of several well-known events and rescues others from obscurity. He problematizes conventional perceptions of the Group as a national school and underscores the contradictions inherent in international exhibitions showing unpeopled landscapes alongside Northwest Coast Native arts and the "Indian" paintings of Langdon Kihn and Emily Carr. Dawn examines how this dichotomy forced a re-evaluation of the place of First Nations in both Canadian art and nationalism.

National Visions, National Blindness is an elegantly written work offering new and insightful analysis, and will be of great interest to readers and researchers of Canadian art history, First Nations art and history, tourism, cultural politics, museum studies, and ethnographic practices.

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Book Description:

An insightful analysis of how art was used to create an independent Canadian national identity, often at the expense of First Nations representation.

From the Inside Flap:

Reconsiders the works of the Group of Seven and shows how, in a seris of international exhibitions held in London and Paris, conflicts arose between their unpeopled landscapes and the presence of Northwest Coast Native peoples and arts. The book also reveals how the portraits of Native peoples of western Canada by the American artist Langdon Kihn served to undermine the principle of Native disappearance on which the Group's works were based.

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