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Canadian & Inuit Paintings

The Canadian art making tradition mirrors American and European art history. Wealth in major cities such as Montreal brought a period of portrait painting in the late 1700s, and the 19th century was heavy in landscape painting.

One major school of Canadian painters, the Group of Seven (1920-1933), painted landscape in search of a distinct Canadian artistic expression. In their work, the influence of Impressionism, the Fauves, and Japanese wood-block prints shows through. In Montreal of the 1940s, a second major school, Les Automatistes, created a Canadian Surrealist style. Major Canadian artist Jean Paul Lemieux (1904-1990) combined academic and modern master styles into his own distinct expression.

Inuit art is focused more on sculpture than painting. The Inuit people, who often prefer the term Eskimo, believe animals are spiritual beings. They imbue this belief into architectural and freestanding sculptural forms. Works by Inuit or Eskimo sculptures are often available at auction, as well as a smaller selection of paintings with Inuit themes, such as the work of Harvey Goodale (1900-1980).

Quick Facts

  • One of Canadian artist Peter Doig’s canoe paintings, "Swamped," 1990, sold for $25.9 million at Christie’s New York on May 11, 2015
  • Between 2007 and 2015, the Canadian auction house, Heffel, sold ten Lemieux paintings for between $402,500 CAD and $2.3 million CAD
  • Many Canadian contemporary artists migrated to New York. One, Richard Hambleton, painted scenes of alleys and fake homicide outlines on sidewalks in the Lower East Side in the 1980s

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