Credit : National Gallery of Canada with graditude from AICA-Canada
Donald Williams Buchanan (1908-1966)
Donald William Buchanan was an art historian, an arts administrator and art writer, He was born in Lethbridge, Alberta, in 1908. After completing studies in modern history at the University of Toronto, he held a fellowship at the University of Oxford. In 1934, he received another fellowship from the Carnegie Corporation to train in museum administration and to complete a biography on James Wilson Morrice (1865-1924). After a career in the new media (National Film Society of Canada (1937 -1940), the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board 19??-1947), where he established the stills division, he was employed by the National Gallery of Canada, serving as director of the Industrial Design Division (1947-1953) and later as the Gallery’s Associate Director (1955-1960). Buchanan returned to the Gallery in 1963 as a member of its Board of Trustees. In 1963, he was appointed director of the International Fine Arts Exhibition Man and His World at Expo ’67. He was the most active Canadian art critic involved in the creation of AICA – Canada in the mid-forties and became its third president after Rodolphe de Repentigny’s tragic death in 1958. Buchanan himself died accidentlaly, struck by a van in Ottawa in 1966.
Buchanan wrote several books on art and design during his career, including James Wilson Morrice: A Biography (1936), Canadian Painting from Paul Kane to the Group of Seven (1945), Design for Use (1947), The Growth of Canadian Painting (1950), and Alfred Pellan (1962).
In 1958, he develop an interest in photography and took a six-month leave of absence from his job at the National Gallery to photograph areas of France, Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Jordan. The photographs produced by Buchanan during this trip led to an exhibition entitled A Not Always Reverent Journey: Photographs by Donald W. Buchanan (1959), organized and circulated by the National Gallery of Canada. Buchanan continued his career in photography after he retired from the National Gallery, exhibiting his work in Toronto, (1960); Rome, (1962); and Ottawa (1964). He also published two books of his photographs, A Nostalgic View of Canada (1962) and Sausages and Roses (1963).
Rodolphe de Repentigny (1928-1959)
Elected President of AICA Canada in 1957, his tragic death in August 1959 abruptly interrupted its mandate.
Rodolphe de Repentigny , is an art critic, theorist and painter, principal representative of the Mouvement Plasticien. He signed his works under the pseudonym Jauran.
John Edward Horatio Steegman, Honors: OBE (1899–1966)
Born in Great Britain in 1899. He graduated from King College at the University of Cambridge in 1921 with an Ordinary Degree in History and Modern Languages. After a few years of traveling, offering tutorships, working as an art and drama critic and writing on art and architecture, he was employed at the National Portrait Gallery from 1926–1945. He took a short break during the war years when he was lecturing for the British Council and organized the Sala de l’Alianca at the Lisbon Centenaries Exhibition. From 1945, he was Keeper of the Department of Art at the National Museum of Wales. In 1952, he became Director of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Although he was more interested in XVIII and XIX century British painting than in modern or contemporary art, he was strongly involved in the founding of AICA-Canada in 1954 and 1955. He was elected its first president from 1955 to 1957. After his resignation from the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 1959, he returned to Great Britain spending half of each year traveling and lecturing abroad and half of the year in London entertaining friends. He died on 15 April 1966 at Coffinswell, Devon.
He published several books on aesthetics and art history, including “The Rule of Taste”, 1936 and Catalogue of Paintings Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Montreal, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, 1960.
His archives are kept at King’s College Archives Center, Cambridge.
Martin Baldwin (1891-1968)
Born and mainly educated in Toronto, Ontario, he was at first an important, yet underrated architect, active in Toronto, between 1913 to 1914 and after war between 1919 to 1930, when he had to close his architectural practise on account of the Depression. As an architect, he can be credited with introducing the innovative designs in the Art Deco style to both residential and commercial architecture in that city.
In 1932, he accepted the post of Temporary Curator at the small Art Gallery of Toronto, filling the vacancy created by the departure of Fred S. Haines, a proeminent Toronto artist. Baldwin thus joined the small group of five permanent staff members at the Gallery. In 193, his position became permanent as the curator of the Art Gallery. In 1948 he was officially appointed as the first Director of the Gallery and he held that post until his retirement in 1960. He made a major contribution to art and culture in the city during his tenure at the Gallery, and for his effort he was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Laws from the Univ. of Toronto in 1959. As the Gallery Curator, his name is particulary associated to the art gallery Emely Carr Collection.
After his retirement from the AGO, He became the first curator of the Toronto Dominion Bank Art collection. The bank was then particularly renown for its inuit art collection. Martin Balwin was also active in the architectural conservation movement partilaerly in his action to preserve architectural landmarks in Toronto, such as the old 7th Post Office Building on Toronto Street (1851-53, by Cumberland & Ridout) that he saved from demolition.
A member of AICA USA since 1954, in 1956, he joined Donald W. Buchanan, assistant director at the National Gallery (Ottawa) and John E.H. Steegman, director at The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts with 7 other professionals of the art scene to create AICA-Canada.
Robert AYRE (1900-1980)
Born in rural Manitoba, Robert Ayre initiated his career as a journalist as early as 1917 in Winnipeg where he worked for the Winnipeg Telegramme and the Free Press. In 1935, he moved to Montreal where at first he published his criticism in for the three English-speaking newspapers The Standard and the Gazette. In 1950, the Montreal Star hired him where he published his weekly critics until 1971. He gained a national reputation for his critical writings in newspapers, periodicals and catalogues. He was also co-editor of Canadian Art Magazine where he particularly covered the Montreal art scene.
As an art critic, mainly involved in critical writing for daily and weekly newspapers and a co –editor of the main national art magazine, he had the opportunity to see a large variety of Canadian art works from the different parts of the country. Nevertheless, he widely defended the Montreal artistic community, keeping well aware of the creations of the Anglophones as well as the Francophone’s, and he was highly respected by both communities. He has supported in his papers the purchase of Canadian paintings for the good of Canadian art and advocated the idea that Canadian paintings should be hung in our schools
He has also written about the art criticisms and the art critic’s role. Robert Ayre believed that the good critic should speak both to the public and on its behalf. For him, the critic’s function was to estimate qualities and character, and to assist the public in the interpretation of values, raising the common level towards the artist. He has always aimed for being a “good critic…” trying to understand new art forms, to discover new talents while discriminating between what was worthwhile and what was trivial, what was real and what was sham. “ Robert Ayre saw art criticism as a discipline.
He has received an Honorary Doctorate from Concordia University in 1976. In 1992, Corcordia Uiversity Art Gallery devoted an exhibition to him, Robert Ayre The critic and the collection, exemplarizing his action on Montreal community as an art critic.
Paul Duval was widely recognized as one of Canada’s art expert and critic of his time. He served for many years as art editor for Saturday Night, the Toronto Telegram and the Globe and Mail. He was a regular contributor to art journals, the author of the Painting section of the Encyclopedia Canadian. He also wrote introductions for many exhibition catalogues and published over six books. Mr. Duval’s experience was not only based on a thorough knowledge of art, but also on a close association with artists. He was a friend, colleague and counselor of many of the painters about whom he wrote, including in his main book, Four Decades – The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries-1930-1970. He is also the author of the book York Wilson.
He has also written and produced radio, film and television programs relating to art, and acts as a consultant to many major international collectors and institutions, including the video clip #1 Paul Duval on York Wilson, Abstractionist. In 2010 he was awarded the Toronto Friend of the visual arts award,
He was among the founding members of the Canadian Section of AICA.
Colin D. Graham (1915-2010)
Colin Graham was born in Vancouver in 1915. A youthful interest in astronomy was followed by two years of pre med studies at UBC. In 1935 an extended trip to Europe familiarized him with museums and galleries providing him with an opportunity to view original artwork there. Shortly after, Graham decided to read Medieval History at Cambridge and in 1939 obtained his BA. He continued his education at the University of California, Berkeley and obtained his MA in Art in 1949. Influential artists at this time include Margaret O’Hagen, Elmer Bischoff, Karl Knaths and Arshile Gorky. Following graduation he took a position as a lecturer at the California School of Fine Arts. His next position was as Educational Director of the California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco. He had kept in touch with Ina Uhthoff in Victoria and through correspondence with her he learned of the search for a Director for a proposed gallery in the recently donated Spencer mansion.
Graham’s subsequent career, commencing in 1951, as the first Director/Curator of the Art Centre of Greater Victoria gave him the opportunity to make connections with artists, collectors and visitors directly. He was also responsible for determining the direction and content of the gallery collections and exhibitions. He wanted the gallery to display for Victorians the vast variety of artwork available from both Eastern and Western traditions in art. Through generous donations arid innovative exhibitions this was achieved. The Asian collection is considered especially outstanding, donors here including Isabel Pollard, a prominent donor of much in the Japanese collection. Graham’s dedication to his own artwork was sidelined while at the gallery; his duties there necessarily consuming much of his free time. His exposure to BC and Canadian artists was however, very influential in his later development as a painter.
In 1972, upon retirement from the gallery he was able to pursue his interest in painting. His chosen subject matter has continued to be the agrarian landscape particularly the Saanich peninsula where he lives and for which he so clearly has great affection. Among other distinctions Graham has received, an honorary LLD from the University of Victoria.
Thomas R. Mc Donald (1908–1978)
Thomas Reid MacDonald is on the short list of AICA-Canada founders with four other directors of major Canadian public galleries.
In November 1947, Thomas Reid MacDonald became the first full-time curator and director of the Art Gallery of Hamilton. The next year, he inaugurated the Annual Winter Exhibition at the Gallery, a yearly exhibition which was held from 1948–1973. These juried exhibitions provided Canadian artists with an important exhibition and also brought major works to Hamilton that might be acquired by the Gallery. Notorious businessmen of Hamilton sponsored the prize. Soon, this annual exhibition became a much-awaited event as well as a way to acquire new works for the Gallery’s permanent collection. Winners and subsequent additions to the collection include major works signed by major artists such as Paraskeva Clark’s, A.J. Casson’s, Lilias Torrance Newton’s and Alex Colville’s.
T.R. MacDonald was also involved in the architectural development of the gallery. In December 1953, the new purpose-built Gallery, at Forsyth Avenue and Main Street in west Hamilton, was opened by the Honorable Vincent Massey, Governor General of Canada. Building architects Husband, Robertson and Wallace designed a one-storey gallery with exhibition space totaling 10,000 square feet, which was quite big at that time. In 1965, the gallery was planned to be moved in downtown Hamilton, in a new Civic Square including an art gallery, theater, convention center, trade center and new library. T.R. MacDonald was also involved in this project. In 1973, T.R. MacDonald retired, having developed one of the most highly regarded and strongest collections of modern Canadian art in the country, installed in a modern building conform to museological norms of the time.