Director of the School for Studies in Art and Culture and Professor of Art History Featured in CBC Radio Documentary for curating 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group

Brian Foss, Director of the School for Studies in Art and Culture and Professor of Art History, has spent the bulk of the last decade researching an unsung but intriguing collective of Canadian artists known as the Beaver Hall Group.  Professor Foss’s tenacious research culminated last fall in an exhibition for the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts titled 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group, which contains nearly 200 items from a number of institutional collections as well as from 42 private collections. The exhibition features many paintings, sculptures, drawings and miscellaneous objects, borrowed from approximately 75 institutional and private collectors scattered across the country. Foss followed the lead of the primary curator of the show, Jacques Des Rochers, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Curator of Québec and Canadian Art before 1945.  Their teamwork paid tremendous dividends and was a fine example of scholarship undertaken jointly by the university and outside institutions.

Prudence Heward, At the Cafe (c.1928)

Prudence Heward, At the Cafe (c.1928)

1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group received 92,000 visitors over the course of its three-month showing at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and has won this year’s highly coveted Canadian Museums Association’s Award of Outstanding Achievement for Art Exhibitions. In addition, the exhibition catalogue has captured the 2016 Melva J. Dwyer Award, given to exceptional reference or research tools relating to Canadian art and architecture.

The Beaver Hall Group was a diverse assortment of like-minded Montreal-based artists, many of whom shared a studio and exhibition space on the city’s Beaver Hall Hill in the early 1920’s. Like Toronto’s celebrated Group of Seven, the Beaver Hall Group offered a creative portrayal of life in Canada; but they did so in a very different way. “Unlike the Group of Seven’s vast interpretations of Canada’s natural, unblemished backdrops, Beaver Hall Group art featured portraits of contemporary Canadian individuals, rural life and urbanized, populated cityscapes,” explains Foss.

Listen to CBC Radio’s The Beaver Hall Group — an Alisa Siegel Documentary featuring Carleton University’s Brian Foss and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts’ Jacques Des Rochers.

For more information about Foss and the exhibit read: Remembering The Beaver Hall Group – Canada’s Unsung Modernists (PDF), the cover story fo FASSinate 2016.

 


Post Image Description: Mabel May | Housetops, View from My Studio, University Street | 1925 | Oil on canvas 61 x 76.2 cm | Private collection | Photo credit: Michael Cullen

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