GORDON SMITH: A STUDY OF THE ARTIST'S LIFE AND CAREER FROM 1919 TO 1955 by PETER GRUNDY MALKIN B.A., University of British Columbia, 1970 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Fine Arts) We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA October, 1977 © Peter Grundy Malkin, 1977 i i In p r e s e n t i n g t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the r e q u i r e m e n t s f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumb ia , I a g ree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r r e f e r e n c e and s tudy . I f u r t h e r agree t h a t p e r m i s s i o n f o r e x t e n s i v e c o p y i n g o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be g r a n t e d by the Head o f my Department o r by h i s r e p r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s u n d e r s t o o d that c o p y i n g o r p u b l i c a t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l g a i n s h a l l not be a l l o w e d w i thout my w r i t t e n p e r m i s s i o n . Department o f FINE ARTS The U n i v e r s i t y o f B r i t i s h Co lumbia 2075 Wesbrook Place Vancouver, Canada V6T 1W5 October 3,1977 i i i ABSTRACT To date, no study i n depth of the a r t i s t , Gordon Smith (1919 - ), or of h i s time i n Vancouver (since 1944) has been under-taken. This thesis chronicles h i s l i f e , career and work, from h i s boy-hood i n England i n the 1920's and e a r l y 1930's up to the time i n 1955 when he achieved n a t i o n a l a t t e n t i o n at the F i r s t B i e n n i a l of Canadian Painting, Ottawa. Chapter 1 deals with the period 1919 - 1939, f i r s t i n England and a f t e r 1934 i n Winnipeg. Chapter 2 covers the war years, 1939 - 1944. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 deal with the successive phases i n Smith's development as an a r t i s t i n Vancouver, 1944 - 1946, 1946 - 1951, and 1951 - 1955 r e s p e c t i v e l y . The period, 1944 - 1955, covered by the l a s t three chapters (3 - 5) saw f i r s t l y , the maturation of Smith's dev-elopment as a painter. A secondary theme of t h i s t h e s i s , outlined i n these l a s t three chapters i s the h i s t o r y of the development of the v i s -u a l arts i n Vancouver and the c u l t u r a l climate i n which Smith was work-ing, both as an a r t i s t and a teacher. TABLE OF CONTENTS Chapter Page I Childhood and Adolescence 1919 - 1939 1 II The War Years 1939 - 1944 14 III Vancouver 1944 - 1946 24 IV Vancouver 1946-1951 36 V Vancouver 1951 - 1955 58 I l l u s t r a t i o n s 69 Bibliography 101 Appendix A 108 V LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS OF WORK BY GORDON SMITH Figure 1 P o r t r a i t of Seaman Brown, 8-5/8" x 7-1/8", 1943, p e n c i l drawing. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 2 P o r t r a i t of Captain A.K. Guest, 8-9/16"x 5-7/8", 1943, p e n c i l drawing. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 3 S t i l l L i f e , 4-7/16" x 7-7/8", 1942, water colour. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 4 Quebec Barracks, Inverary, Scotland, 6-3/4" x 9-7/8", 1943, water colour. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 5 Point Atkinson, 1946, etching. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 6 Study, 11-11/16" x 5-5/8", 1946/47, etching. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 7 Nature Forms, 10-9/16" x 6-3/4", 1947/48, etching. C o l l e c t i o n : The A r t i s t . Figure 8 I n s t a l l a t i o n photograph, 'Cafeteria E x h i b i t i o n ' , Vancouver School of Art, Spring 1948. Figure 9 S t i l l L i f e , 5 V x 13%", 1948/49, o i l on panel. Private C o l l e c t i o n . Figure 10 Melon and Lemon, 41" x 23", 1949, o i l on canvas. C o l l e c t i o n : Grant Macdonald. Figure 11 V e r t i c a l Abstraction, 59" x 29V, 1950/51, o i l on canvas. Private C o l l e c t i o n . Figure 12 Bare Trees, 33" x 23", 1952, o i l on canvas. Private C o l l e c t i o n . Figure 13 Wet Night, 29V x 33", 1953, o i l on canvas. C o l l e c t i o n : The Vancouver Art Gall e r y . Figure 14 Burrard Bridge, 23%" x 33%", 1954, o i l on canvas. C o l l e c t i o n : Mrs. H i l l Cheney. Figure 15 Orchard, 31%" x 3 5 V , 1954, o i l on masonite. C o l l e c t i o n : Art Gallery of Ontario, G i f t from J.S. McLean, Canadian Fund, 1954. v i LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS (continued) Figure 16 Structure With Red Sun, 40" x 28", 1955, o i l on canvas. Collection: The National Gallery of Canada. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The assembly of material for this paper has been greatly facilitated by the help of many people. I would like to thank Miss Evelyn McMahon of The Vancouver Public Library, and Mrs. Jean Martin and Miss Nora Blair of The Vancouver Art Gallery library for their cooperation in locating material. Most particularly, I am indebted to Gordon and Marion Smith for their generosity in making available their personal records and f i l e s , as well as giving much of their time for interviews and to answer seemingly endless questions. With-out their help this thesis would not have been possible. viii tr i IT GORDON SMITH: A STUDY OF THE ARTIST'S LIFE AND CAREER FROM 1919 TO 1955 ix INTRODUCTION Gordon Smith f i r s t came to nationa l a t t e n t i o n i n May 1955, when, at the F i r s t B i e n n i a l of Canadian Painting, held at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, he was awarded the f i r s t p r i z e f o r h i s paint-ing Structure With Red Sun. P r i o r to t h i s award, Smith had l i v e d since 1944 i n Vancouver, where he took part, both as an a r t i s t and as a teach-er, i n the rapid a r t i s t i c development of the c i t y . By 1955, he was an i n t e g r a l member of a group of a r t i s t s i n Vancouver whose work had a t t r a c t -ed c r i t i c a l a t t e n t i o n i n Canada, to the extent that one writer had claimed: "(Vancouver) i s a new centre f o r the a r t s . " * Born i n England i n 1919, Smith, as a young boy, developed an i n t e r e s t i n a r t , which was fostered by h i s father. This consisted of painting small water colour landscapes, and v i s i t s to the Tate and Nat-i o n a l G a l l e r i e s . In 1934, Smith moved to Canada with h i s mother and elder brother, s e t t l i n g i n Winnipeg. Here, Smith's opportunities to further h i s i n t e r e s t i n a r t were i n i t i a l l y curbed by the family's f i n -a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n , as well as the absence of s i g n i f i c a n t a r t i n that c i t y . In 1937, however, Smith again became a c t i v e l y involved with a r t : as a student at the Winnipeg School of Art which was headed by L i o n e l LeMoine FitzGerald; as a part-time employee of the commercial a r t fi r m of Brigden's of Winnipeg; and as a teacher of Saturday morning Children's Art Classes at the Winnipeg Art Gall e r y . For Smith, the education received at the Winnipeg School of Art, as well as the p r a c t i c a l experience gained >at Brigden's, reinforced the t r a d i t i o n of nineteenth century English water colour painting with which he was f a m i l i a r . His experiences i n a r t at t h i s time, i n the l a t e 1930's, were circumscribed by the i n t e l l e c t u a l l i m i t a t i o n s of Winnipeg, which were the r e s u l t of the c i t y ' s r e l a t i v e geographical i s o l a t i o n from any other major urban centre. The a r t i s t s i n Winnipeg looked to England for t h e i r a r t i s t i c exemplars, and so did Smith. The outbreak of the Second World War, gave Smith the oppor-tunit y to leave Winnipeg. He went overseas as a reinforcement o f f i c e r f o r the Princess P a t r i c i a ' s Canadian Light Infantry Corps i n July 1942. For a few months i n 1942 - 1943 he worked c l o s e l y with W i l l O g i l v i e , the war a r t i s t posted to h i s regiment. Under O g i l v i e ' s influence, he started experimenting i n h i s use of the water colour medium. As well, he was able, while i n London, to expand the boundaries of h i s a r t i s t i c education, v i s i t i n g the g a l l e r i e s and seeing e x h i b i t i o n s of the B r i t i s h War A r t i s t s . From 1942, h i s work entered a period of change and development, which would culminate i n the mid 1950's. Wounded during the S i c i l i a n Campaign, i n July 1943, Smith r e -turned to Canada i n 1944, j o i n i n g h i s wife, Marion, i n Vancouver on January 10 of that year. During the war and the time spent recuperating from h i s wounds, Smith gave much thought to h i s future career. During 1944, i n Vancouver, these thoughts c r y s t a l l i z e d . He decided to pursue a career as an a r t i s t while supporting himself by becoming an a r t teacher. Subsequently, he spent 1945 and h a l f of 1946 obtaining the necessary aca-demic q u a l i f i c a t i o n s required of an a r t teacher and, thus q u a l i f i e d , he joined the s t a f f of the Vancouver School of Art. x i 1946 marked a turning point f o r Smith's a r t . Enjoying the f i n -a n c i a l s e c u r i t y of the job at the Vancouver School of Art, he was able to devote himself f u l l y to considering the problems which had emerged as basic to h i s pa i n t i n g . These were h i s concern for the 'space of the can-vas'; h i s awareness of the material q u a l i t i e s of paint and the e x p l o i t -a t i o n of them for t h e i r own sakes; and the development of a s t y l e of painting i n which the use of a subject became the s t a r t i n g point f o r an exercise i n the act of painting rather than an exercise i n the act of image making. 1946 marked, f o r Vancouver, the beginning of an i n f l u x of new ta l e n t s , ideas and energies which would r e s u l t i n the rapid growth of Vancouver's c u l t u r a l l i f e . Enrollment at the Vancouver School of Art i n -creased sevenfold i n the years 1946 - 1948. The Vancouver Art Gallery t r i p l e d i t s e x h i b i t i o n space i n 1951. A Community Arts Council was formed i n the l a t e 1940's which promoted a seri e s of concerts and a r t r e l a t e d a c t i v i t i e s i n the following years. The energy sustaining these a c t i v i t i e s was generated by a r e l a t i v e l y small group of people who managed to es-t a b l i s h a s o l i d base upon which future growth i n the a r t s was to develop. Of primary importance during t h i s period were the a r t i s t s , who reacted to these events and who developed t h e i r own s t y l e of work. Smith was one of these a r t i s t s . The development of Smith's a r t , i n the period 1944 - 1955 can be characterised by the coming together of two basis s t y l i s t i c elements: f i r s t , the influence of B r i t i s h painting, r e f l e c t i n g h i s early experiences as a c h i l d as well as the more recent exhibitions of contemporary B r i t i s h xii a r t held at The Vancouver Art Gallery and, second, contemporary Ameri-can a r t , of which Smith became acutely aware as a r e s u l t of h i s few months study i n San Francisco i n 1950, which allowed him to loosen up his own work and to develop a more gestural manner of p a i n t i n g . The r e s u l t was a s t y l e of painting i n which the freedom of paint handling, as exemplified by the American Abstract Expressionists, was joined with a concern f or imagery, c l o s e l y r e l a t e d to the work of B r i t i s h painters such as Graham Sutherland. Structure With Red Sun, which brought Smith in t o n a t i o n a l prominence i n 1955, was a developed example of t h i s new personal s t y l e which combined both the American and English influences. I t i s the purpose of t h i s thesis to examine Smith's a r t i s t i c career from i t s beginning, and the s i t u a t i o n i n Vancouver a f t e r 1944, i n order to o u t l i n e those c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of h i s work which led to Smith's recognition as an a r t i s t of na t i o n a l stature, i n 1955. 1 H.R. Hubbard, "A Climate f o r the A r t s , " Canadian Art XII (Spring, 1955), p. 139. CHAPTER 1 CHILDHOOD AND ADOLESCENCE 1919 - 1939 1 Gordon Appelbe Smith (b. June 18, 1919) was born at Hove, Sussex, where his mother, nee Daisy Appelbe (1883 - ) was v i s i t i n g relatives while awaiting his birth.* His father, William George Smith (1880 - ?) was absent at the time, on military duty on the Isle of Wight. Shortly after Gordon's birth Mrs. Smith, her elder son Donald, two years of age, and the new baby returned home to 111 Marylebone HighStreet, Lon-2 don, where they were soon joined by Gordon's father. William George Smith was a grocer employed by the Chapman Gro-cery chain. His was a modest job which provided for the basics of l i f e only. To augment the family income Mrs. Smith took in borders, a recur-ring event in the family's l i f e . This domestic arrangement ended tempor-a r i l y when, in 1925, Smith's father l e f t his job with Chapman's to work on his own. He moved the family to Rotherhithe, a docks area on the south side of the Thames River. Here, using a hand cart he delivered milk in the alrea. Occasionally, Donald and Gordon would accompany their father on his rounds. The area was poor and the milk run was not successful; the year of 1925 - 26 was one of extreme financial hardship for the Smiths. Mrs. Smith again took in borders, an arrangement which neces-sitated the boys' sleeping in the h a l l of the house. In 1926, the family's circumstances improved, both financially and geographically. Smith's father opened his own grocery store, 'W.G. Smith', located on Edgware Road, north of Hyde Park. The family moved out of the city, to a house at 116 Drury Road, West Harrow, approximately twenty miles south of London. From here, Smith's father commuted to the city putting in long days: 8:00 a.m. - 9:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 10:30 p.m. Saturday, and 9:00 a.m. - noon on Sundays. The distance 2 commuted each day and the long hours worked were compensated f o r by h i s deep attachment to the countryside. In 1926, West Harrow was s t i l l p a storal countryside; at Drury Road, cows came up to the back fence. Close by was a farm which the boys would v i s i t and, on occasion, camp out. Also close by were the South Downs where Smith's father would often take the boys on long excursions, noting the wild l i f e to be found there. Sometimes, on Sunday afternoons, he would take them to the Museum of Natural History i n London. Smith's father expressed h i s love of the countryside i n another way - water colour painting. Although without formal a r t t r a i n i n g , he was an accomplished water c o l o u r i s t , who, l a t e r i n the 1930's, also worked with o i l s . His works, some of which are i n Gordon Smith's possession, r e -v e a l a basic awareness of the countryside, an awareness no doubt c u l t i - ' vated as a release from the pressures of business l i f e i n the c i t y . These water colours are small works, averaging 4" x 8" i n dimension. The sub-j e c t matter was u s u a l l y the landscape, with occasional seaside views, r e -f l e c t i n g holiday v i s i t s . William Smith encouraged h i s c h i l d r e n to t r y t h e i r hand at water colour painting, giving them each a new set of Windsor & Newton water colours as Christmas presents. Not only did he give the boys the materials to work with, he also encouraged them to mount t h e i r works i n glass, taped with passepartout, and to hold small e x h i b i t i o n s of t h e i r 3 work at home. In encouraging the boys to work with water colour, Smith's father often took them on t h e i r Sunday excursions to London, to The Tate or the .National G a l l e r i e s . There he would u s u a l l y g r a v i t a t e to the works 3 of the English landscape painters such as J.M.W. Turner, John Constable, and Samuel Palmer, while not ignoring the Pre-Raphaelites or l a t e nine-teenth century painters. His appreciation of these paintings was that of an amateur. He d i d not theorize about the works which he took the boys to see. In fosteringaan awareness of a r t , and p a r t i c u l a r l y landscape painting, Smith's father would sometimes discuss the t e c h n i c a l aspects of what they were seeing, noting, f o r example, the q u a l i t i e s of the paper and how i t could be used. At home, there were copies of a r t magazines such as The Studio, as well as various a r t books, of which Smith r e c a l l s one 4 on B o t t i c e l l i . This i n t e r e s t i n and a c t i v i t y with a r t , begun at home, stayed with him while at boardin-g school and on vacations. In 1930, Smith won a scholarship to attend the Harrow County School, Middlesex.~* Of t h i s opportunity, Smith noted: " I t changed my l i f e . It was a marvellous, excellent school which gave me the basics of a very f i n e education. "Attending t h i s school opened up a l l sorts of p o s s i b i l i t i e s f o r my f u -ture. I t changed my accent - when I met my father again during the Second World War, I was surprised that he had a Cockney accent. I was extremely happy at the school. I was captain of the c r i c k e t team and l a t e r won mycolours on the Under F i f t e e n rugby team." 6 In addition to such basic courses as Mathematics, English, and L a t i n , there were also a r t classes given by an accomplished teacher, George Neale. Under Neale, Smith studied drawing, s t i l l l i f e , and water colour painting, winning prizes f o r h i s work at the annual'Speech Day ceremonies. The four happy years at Harrow County School, 1930 - 1934, ended abruptly when Smith's parents separated. Things had gone badly f o r Smith's father and mother. In a few months, h i s parents had separated, and Smith's father, more of an a r t i s t than a business man went bankrupt. 4 In the summer of 1934, William Smith remained i n London where he t r i e d to make a l i v i n g s e l l i n g h i s water colours door to door, for 6d. each.^ Daisy Smith took the boys with her to Winnipeg, j o i n i n g members of her family, who had emigrated to Canada before the F i r s t World War. The shock of being uprooted from a sophisticated school and of being transplanted to the Winnipeg of the 1930's was considerable. A d i f f i c u l t f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n ensued. A r r i v i n g at Winnipeg, the Smiths moved into a basement apartment i n a block owned by one of Mrs. Smith's b r o t h e r s - i n -law. For t h i s apartment they provided j a n i t o r i a l services i n l i e u of rent. After s i x months, Mrs. Smith rented a house and once more took i n borders. Then followed a period of moves every s i x months, with Daisy Smith, the boys, and some of the boarders moving into d i f f e r e n t houses. Amidst t h i s , Smith held down two paper routes, one i n the morning and the other i n the afternoon. For t h i s , he eventually received a gold pocket watch from the Winnipeg Free Press t e s t i f y i n g to h i s services f o r the 8 paper. This period of change and uncertainty a f f e c t e d Smith's educa-t i o n . In the spring of 1937, p r i o r to matr i c u l a t i n g , he dropped out of the Gordon B e l l High School. In the following September Smith enrolled i n the Winnipeg School of Art. This was not a matter of wanting to be-come an a r t i s t , but rather one of obtaining a s k i l l . "During the depression I only thought of s u r v i v a l , of getting some sort of a job. Art was something I had had presented to me i n an a t t r a c t i v e way by my father; I seemed to have some tal e n t i n that l i n e ; . and without a c t u a l l y formulating any very precise or c l e a r cut ambition, I was working towards a job i n some f i e l d connected with a r t : commercial per-haps, or i n teaching." 9 5 In 1937, when Smith enrolled i n Winnipeg School of Art (WSA), i t had been i n operation for twenty-five years, having been founded i n 1912.*^ In the l a t t e r 1920's and during the Depression years of the 1930's the economic fortunes of the WSA had not been good. The p r i n c i p a l of the WSA i n 1937 was Lionel LeMoine Fit z G e r a l d , who had held that pos-i t i o n since 1929.** A s s i s t i n g F i t z G e r a l d were two adept water colour painters, W i l l i s wheatley and George Overton, both of whom had been trained i n England i n the manner favoured by the Royal Water Colour Soc-l e t y . Of these three teachers, F i t z G e r a l d had the most influence on Smith, though his influence was not so much a matter of the d i d a c t i c transmission of a s p e c i f i c s t y l e but rather the communication of a gen-e r a l approach to drawing and water colour painting which was c a r e f u l , t i g h t , and c o n t r o l l e d . Overton and Wheatley taught classes i n landscape water colour painting, the current preoccupation for the majority of 13 a r t i s t s i n Winnipeg at that time. FitzGerald's approach to a r t , although,nob ver b a l i z e d i n h i s classes, was apparent to h i s students who were expected to work a f t e r h i s method. The basis of these classes was the study and p r a c t i c e of f i n e l y d e t a i l e d and a n a l y t i c a l drawings, which f i n a l l y led to the use of o i l on canvas. These drawing classes were held on a weekly basis. At the begin-ning, F i t z G e r a l d set the subject matter, e i t h e r s t i l l l i f e or from the model. This done, he would leave the students, returning occasionally to inspect t h e i r work and to make corrections. In these classes, the i n i t i a l emphasis was on the outline of the subject, a f t e r which the modelling 6 followed: "You went over the subject as i f you were a f l y crawl-ing across the surface, exploring and recording every aspect of that surface." 14 For the next few years, t h i s approach to drawing was to be a fundamental part of Smith's c r a f t . This approach had both p o s i t i v e and negative as-pects. On the p o s i t i v e side, Smith received a rigorous and basic t r a i n i n g i n the a r t of drawing. On the negative side, t h i s approach to drawing was so c o n t r o l l e d and structured that i t would take him some time to break away from i t . Although a great influence on h i s students, F i t z G e r a l d neither propounded a theory of art nor- discussed with them what he was t r y i n g to accomplish i n h i s own water colours and paintings.*^ Personable and ap-proachable at the school, F i t z G e r a l d tended to keep h i s painting and teaching a c t i v i t i e s separate, so while Smith often talked to Fitz G e r a l d and was, i n f a c t , on good terms with him, FitzGerald's own studio and thoughts on h i s a r t remained p r i v a t e . * ^ In retrospect, one of the main aspects of FitzGerald's teach-ing which was to remain of importance to Smith, was FitzGerald's concern for the well-made object and i t s proper expression by the a r t i s t ; that i s , the proper use of materials and the c a r e f u l b u i l d i n g up of the image. An examination of FitzGerald's paintings and drawings, as w e l l as h i s previously unpublished notes reveals t h i s emphasis as a major concern of h i s , and one which illuminates the t r a i n i n g he gave to the students at the WSA: "I t i s necessary to get insi d e the object and to push i t out rather than b u i l d i n g i t up from the outer aspect . . . t h i s requires endless search and contemplation; 7 continuous e f f o r t and experimentation; and appreci-a t i o n f o r the endlessness of the l i v i n g force which seems to pervade and flow through a l l n a tural forms, even though these seem on the surface to be so ephemeral." 18 This concern for the object and the rendering of i t i n a precise man-ner was absorbed by Smith as a b e l i e f i n the p r i n c i p l e of a sound basic d i s c i p l i n e i n drawing, and by extension, a concern for an emphasis on the importance of the element of c r a f t involved i n the making of a r t . While FitzGerald's stature as a painter has continued to grow since the t h i r t i e s , at t h i s time, c. 1937, he was working outside the 19 mainstream of a r t i n Winnipeg. He did not take part i n the p r e v a i l i n g a r t i s t i c a c t i v i t y of the time - the painting of the landscape i n and 20 about Winnipeg as noted above. Although respected, FitzGerald was not 21 the dominant educative a r t i s t i c force i n Winnipeg. This p o s i t i o n must be accorded not to a person, but rather to a commercial enterprise, 22 Brigden's of Winnipeg. Established i n 1914, Brigden's was a commercial a r t fi r m which, i n the 1920's and 1930's, became a centre f or the a r t i s t s i n Winnipeg when there was very l i t t l e other encouragement for the a r t s . The fi r m was run by two brothers, Arnold 0. Brigden (1886 - 1972) and Frederick Henry Brigden (1871 - 1956) . The former was a great f r i e n d of Fit z G e r a l d , and an avid c o l l e c t o r of old master and eighteenth century p r i n t s , as well as of Canadian paintings. The l a t t e r was a talented and well-known l o c a l 23 painter. At one time or another, most of the leading a r t i s t s i n Winnipeg worked for a period at Brigden's. As t h i s was a commercial firm, the work done by the a r t i s t s at Brigden's demanded a str a i g h t forward use of water colour i n i t s a p p l i c a -t i o n to commercial a r t , with the a r t i s t s drawing on t h e i r t r a i n i n g at the 8 WSA. The most prominent of these a r t i s t s , and the one who set the standard 24 of excellence was W.J. P h i l l i p s (1884 - 1963) . The task which commanded the main energies of those working at Brigden's was the compilation and p r i n t i n g of the semi-annual mail-order catalogue of the T. Eaton Company, a p u b l i c a t i o n mailed across the country. Rather than using photographic reproductions, the catalogue used a l l aspects of water colour - airbrush renderings f o r the i l l u s t r a t i o n s , which necessitated a large s t a f f of 25 a r t i s t s to complete t h i s slow and painstaking process. Certainly, there were advantages to working at Brigden's. F i r s t l y , there was the stimulation of working with other a r t i s t s . Charles Comfort, (1900 - ) Director of The National G a l l e r y of Canada, 1960 -1965, acknowledged these benefits as, at the-time Hinder discussion, Brigden's was almost the only form of v i s i b l e support a v a i l a b l e to l o c a l 26 a r t i s t s . . Secondly, and of prime p r a c t i c a l importance, was the f a c t that the f i r m was able to o f f e r a r t i s t s employment joined with an enlightened p o l i c y of a l t e r n a t e f i n a n c i a l support for them when they were not work-ing with the firm. This alternate support usually took the form of a cash subsidy which would help the a r t i s t s to tide over slack periods at the firm. Brigden's also helped subsidize the a r t i s t s by paying for part of t h e i r t u i t i o n at the WSA, so that they might continue t h e i r studies, and hopefully, improve t h e i r work. Usually, i t was t h i s l a t t e r form of help which was extended to the students working part-time at the firm. Smith, who started work-ing at Brigden's i n September, 1937, was one of several students who ended up working part-time at Brigden's and spending the r e s t of t h e i r 9 time studying at the WSA. At Brigden's Smith worked on the women's fash-ion section of the Eaton catalogue, doing water colours and airbrusMng the background of photographs p r i o r to t h e i r being photo-engraved on the presses. For t h i s job he was i n i t i a l l y paid $5.GO per week, eventually earning $7.00 per week. In t h i s manner, Smith continued to work and to study u n t i l the outbreak of the Second World War i n September, 1939. During t h i s two year period of work and study several events occurred which further directed Smith towards a pr o f e s s i o n a l career i n the a r t s . The f i r s t of these might be considered a boost to h i s morale. In r ecognition of Smith's ta l e n t and p o t e n t i a l , F i t z G e r a l d asked him to 27 teach the Saturday morning a r t classes at the Winnipeg Art Gall e r y . These classes were lo o s e l y structured with the c h i l d r e n s i t t i n g on cush-ions on the f l o o r and working with water colours and poster paint. They were not expected to work from a set subject matter, but were encouraged 28 to experiment. It was, f o r Smith, a b e n e f i c i a l experience which he en-joyed, and one which set him thinking of a future career i n the area of 29 education. A second form of encouragement toward a pr o f e s s i o n a l career i n the a r t s .came from the Manitoba Society of A r t i s t s , which i n v i t e d 30 Smith to exhibit i n t h e i r group show i n 1937. In addition to e x h i b i t -ing with these a r t i s t s , Smith often joined them on t h e i r outdoor sketch-ing t r i p s to the r u r a l o u t s k i r t s of the c i t y , or to the Lake of The Woods. S t y l i s t i c a l l y , the work of t h i s group was heavily influenced by the t r a d -31 i t i o n of English landscape painting of the nineteenth century. These outings served to further r e i n f o r c e Smith's i n t e r e s t i n the a r t s and to help him develop h i s t a l e n t s , at a time when there was l i t t l e public sup-port for the a r t s . 10 A t h i r d s i g n i f i c a n t event f o r Smith's future career occurred i n the summer of 1939. Using the summer cash grant from Brigden's ($50.00), Smith bought a bus t i c k e t to San Francisco, where he v i s i t e d the Golden Gate International Exposition. Here he saw for the f i r s t time major twen-t i e t h century paintings from Europe, the United States, as well as a 32 s e l e c t i o n of paintings from Canada. Exhibited were works by Picasso, Matisse, and the German Expressionists. The Canadian works, selected by Lawren Ha r r i s , included paintings by the Group of Seven and by Emily Carr. Of the paintings i n t h i s e x h i b i t i o n , Smith p a r t i c u l a r l y remembers Marcel 33 Duchamp's Nude Descending a Staircase. The experience of seeing these works was an awakening for Smith. He r e a l i z e d that there was f a r more to painting than the water colour landscapes he had been doing up to t h i s point; that there was a great deal to be studied. He perceived the Winnipeg a r t i s t i c m i l i e u with greater perspective. Stimulated by h i s experience i n San Francisco, Smith returned to Winnipeg where he found himself r e s t r i c t e d both by the a r t i s t i c envir-onment and by the lack of opportunities a v a i l a b l e . Brigden's appeared a dead end."^ 11 FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER 1 1 The place of Smith's b i r t h has, at times, been i n c o r r e c t l y noted, e.g., Frances K. Smith. Catalogue of the Permanent C o l l e c t i o n , The Agnes Etherington Art Centre. Kingston: Queen's University at Kingston, 1968. The confusion a r i s e s from the immediate proximity of Hove to the better known c i t y of Brighton. 2 A su b s t a n t i a l portion of the information set down i n the following pages has been the r e s u l t of a se r i e s of conversations between the a r t i s t and the author on July 10, 1974; July 19, 1974; August 29, 1974; December 15, 1975; and February 13, 1977. The f i r s t three conversations were tape recorded. Later conversations were recorded i n the form of written notes. Future references to material obtained from conversations with the a r t i s t w i l l be noted as "Smith, date." 3 Smith, February 13, 1977. 4 Ibid . 5 The Harrow County School i s a p u b l i c l y funded i n s t i t u t i o n , located near the famous English Public School, Harrow School. 6 Smith, February 13, 1977. 7 Smith, July 19, 1974. 8 Ibid. 9 Anthony Emery, "Gordon Smith," Artscanada XXIII, (July, 1966), 36. 10 Ferdinand Eckhardt, 150 Years of Art i n Manitoba (Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1970), p. 6. 11 L i o n e l LeMoine Fit z G e r a l d , (1890 - 1956). B. and d. Winnipeg. Studied at A.S. Keszthelyi's School of A r t , Winnipeg, and Art Students League, New York. Taught at Winnipeg School of Art from 1924. Member Group of Seven 1932 - 33, Canadian Group of Painters 1933. V i s i t e d B r i t i s h Columbia and Mexico. (J.R. Harper, Painting i n Canada, op. c i t . p. 422). 12 Smith, July 10, 1974. 13 Smith, July 19, 1974. 12 14 Ibid. 15 Smith, August 29, 1974. 16 Smith, July 19, 1974, and. August 29, 1974. In the course of the l a t t e r conversation, when the topic of FitzGerald's not t a l k i n g about h i s theories was r a i s e d , Smith noted that i n 1948, FitzGerald was i n Vancouver, and that i n f a c t Smith and h i s wife v i s i t e d him on Bowen Island. At t h i s point FitzGerald was occupied with drawing, but contin-ued not to "say anything s i g n i f i c a n t about h i s a r t " (Smith). 17 Ibid. 18 L i o n e l LeMoine FitzGerald, 1890 - 1956 (Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 1956) n.p. Extensive notes by F i t z G e r a l d , pre-v i o u s l y unpublished, are included i n t h i s catalogue. As revealed by t h i s quote, t h i s a t t i t u d e , and p a r t i c u l a r l y the drawings themselves, with t h e i r d e l i c a t e cross-hatchings, subtle tonal gradations, and meticulous ob-servation remind one of both Seurat and Cezanne, a r t i s t s whom FitzGerald p a r t i c u l a r l y admired. (Eckhardt, op. c i t . P. 19). 19 FitzGerald f i r s t received s i g n i f i c a n t attention as a major Canadian a r t i s t when he was asked to j o i n the Group of Seven upon the death of J.E.H. MacDonald i n 1932. 20 Smith, February 13, 1977. This statement i s supported by the v i s u a l material i n Eckhardt's catalogue (op. c i t . ) i n which a l -most a l l the works selected as representative of the art of Manitoba are landscape oriented. 21. Smith, July 10, 1974. 22 Eckhardt, op. c i t . p. 68. Cf entry on Brigden's df Winnipeg. 23 I b i d . p. 68. Cf ent r i e s on A.O. and F.H. Brigden. 24 Smith, July 10, 1974. Walter Joseph Phillips,(1884 - 1963). Commer-c i a l a r t i s t , i l l u s t r a t o r , but best known through h i s water colours and wood block p r i n t s which already i n the 1920's and 1930's won him a world wide reputation. (Eckhardt, op. c i t . pp. 97 - 98). Cf The Art of W.J. P h i l l i p s (Winnipeg: Hudson's Bay Company, 1970). 25 Eckhardt, op. c i t . p. 18. Eckhardt notes that the i l l u s t r a t i o n s i n the Eaton's catalogue were made with wood blocks. In f a c t , the i l l u s t r a t i o n s were made with photo-engraved p l a t e s . (Smith, February, 13, 1977). 13 26 Charles Fraser Comfort, (1900 - ). B. Edinburgh, Scotland. Came to Winnipeg in 1912. Studied at the Winnipeg School of Art and Art Students League, New York. Moved to Toronto in 1925. Director of the National Gallery of Canada, 1960 - 1965. (J.R. Harper, Painting in Canada, op. c i t . p. 421). 27 Smith, July 10, 1974. 28 Ibid. 29 Ibid. Also, cf. David Watmough, How It Is To Be A Painter, Vancouver Sun, Friday, October 28, 1966. p. 6B. 30 Smith, July 10, 1974. 31 Ibid. 32 O f f i c i a l Catalogue, Contemporary Art (San Francisco: Golden Gate International Exposition, 1939). 33 Smith, February 13, 1977. 34 Ibid. 13a CHAPTER 2 THE WAR YEARS 1939 - 1944 14 The outbreak of the Second World War i n September, 1939, marked the beginning of a new period i n Smith's l i f e , a period which brought with i t t r a v e l , an expanded c i r c l e of acquaintances, and a development of his a r t . The war presented Smith with an opportunity to break with h i s connections i n Winnipeg, to escape from the routine of working at Brigden's, and to get away from the emphasis on water colour landscape painting as practiced by most of the a r t i s t s i n Winnipeg and as had been taught at the WSA. P r i o r to the outbreak of the war Smith was a volunteer i n the Royal Winnipeg R i f l e s , a non-permanent a c t i v e m i l i t i a . Smith stayed with t h i s unit u n t i l August, 1940, f i r s t as a Rifleman then l a t e r as an NCO and f i n a l l y being commissioned 2nd Lieutenant. In August, 1940, Smith had the opportunity to e n l i s t i n the Princess P a t r i c i a ' s Canadian Light In-fantry Corps (PPCLI) an ac t i v e m i l i t a r y u n i t which was already overseas.* In July, 1940, knowing that he would be e n l i s t i n g with the PPCLIS, and going overseas, Smith took a short holiday, t r a v e l l i n g to Vancouver where he stayed f o r two weeks. In the course of t h i s v i s i t , he met Marion Fleming, whom he v i s i t e d again at Christmas that same year, at which time they became engaged. Smith again v i s i t e d Vancouver i n February, 1941, see-ing Marion f o r three days. In September, 1941, Gordon was able to return to Vancouver where he and Marion were married on the 15th of that month. Afte r the wedding, they went back to Winnipeg while Smith waited for orders to embark for England as a reinforcement o f f i c e r . These orders f i n a l l y a r r i v e d and Smith l e f t to j o i n h i s regiment i n July, 1942. Af t e r Gordon's departure, Marion returned to Vancouver where she worked as a s o c i a l worker while awaiting Gordon's return. 15 J o i n i n g t h e PPCLI was a f o r t u n a t e and o p p o r t u n e o c c u r r e n c e f o r S m i t h , as t h e o t h e r men i n t h e company b r o u g h t w i t h them v a r i e d and e x -t e n s i v e backgrounds i n t h e a r t s and l i t e r a t u r e . From t h e s e i n d i v i d u a l s S m i t h r e c e i v e d an e x p o s u r e t o o t h e r a r e a s o f i n t e l l e c t u a l endeavour, o f w h i c h , p r e v i o u s l y , he had been unaware. I t was w i d e - r a n g i n g i n t r o d u c t i o n t o t h e h u m a n i t i e s : " I t was a v e r y f l u k e y t h i n g - t h e y were more t h a n j u s t o r d i n a r y guys; t h e y were v e r y i n t e l l i g e n t , i n t e r e s t e d i n t h e a r t s and i n t e r e s t e d i n what t h e o t h e r s had t o o f f e r . " 2 The C o l o n e l o f Smith's r e g i m e n t was R o b e r t L i n d s a y , whose c a r e e r p r i o r t o t h e war had been t h a t o f a h i g h s c h o o l p r i n c i p a l . I n t e r e s t e d i n t h e a r t s and l i t e r a t u r e , he encouraged t h e d i s c u s s i o n o f t h e s e t o p i c s i n t h e O f f i c e r s ' Mess. L i n d s a y , p l e a s e d t o have an a r t i s t e n l i s t e d i n h i s r e g i -ment, was i n s t r u m e n t a l i n a r r a n g i n g f o r S m i t h t o d e s i g n t h e pennant f o r t h e Company's B r i g a d i e r . I t was a l s o on L i n d s a y ' s recommendation t h a t 3 S m i t h was made I n t e l l i g e n c e O f f i c e r f o r t h e r e g i m e n t . The members o f t h e r e g i m e n t were i n t e r e s t i n g i n d i v i d u a l s , i n -c l u d i n g p e o p l e s u c h as t h e w r i t e r C o l i n M a c D o u g a l l , a u t h o r o f E x e c u t i o n and l a t e r D e p u t y - P r e s i d e n t o f M c G i l l U n i v e r s i t y ; R.F.S. R o b e r t s o n , a s c i e n t i s t now a s s o c i a t e d w i t h Atomic Energy o f Canada; and John Darcy Home, a g r a d u a t e o f t h e B l u e Coat S c h o o l i n E n g l a n d who i n t r o d u c e d S m i t h 4 t o E a s t I n d i a n A r t , and who gave him a s m a l l s c u l p t u r e o f S h i v a . W i t h t h e s e men and o t h e r s i n t h e r e g i m e n t , S m i t h d i s c u s s e d a r t , l i t e r a t u r e , and m u s i c . These t a l k s p r o v i d e d an i n f o r m a l e q u i v a l e n t o f a u n i v e r s i t y educa-t i o n . Through t h e s e e x p e r i e n c e s , Smith was a b l e t o see W i n n i p e g i n a b r o a d -e r c o n t e x t . " 5 16 I n i t i a l l y b i l l e t e d at Godalming upon a r r i v i n g i n England, Smith was soon transferred to Eastbourne. I t was a return to the area of h i s childhood. As London was only a short t r a i n r i d e away, Smith went there as often as possible. The educational aspect of Smith's army l i f e continued i n London. He attended the theatre, seeing John Gielgud i n 'Love for Love', and went to piano r e c i t a l s by Dame Myra Hess at the National Gal l e r y . He also spent a great deal of time v i s i t i n g the g a l l e r i e s : "At the time I was interested i n people l i k e Paul Nash and h i s brother John Nash . . . the English S u r r e a l i s t s . . . Wyndham Lewis. There was not too much Graham Sutherland, but I saw some. I also saw the beginnings of Henry Moore and the Shelter Drawings. These were the things which r e a l l y stuck i n my mind. I also saw the occasional War Art e x h i b i t i o n , so I was able to get an idea of what was happening i n English a r t at the time." 6 In addition to seeing contemporary a r t , Smith was also discovering more about Canadian Art. Marion had sent Gordon books on Canadian Art, such as Albert H. Robson's Canadian Landscape Painters.^ She also wrote to him about the Emily Carr paintings she had seen at Brock H a l l , U.B.C. 9 "I knew very l i t t l e about Emily Carr at the time." Smith also learned about eastern Canadian painters from C o l i n MacDougall who knew many of them personally, and who also had a comprehensive know-ledge of contemporary Canadian p a i n t i n g . * ^ Smith continued to sketch and to paint water colours while i n England, although h i s opportunities f o r doing so were r e s t r i c t e d by h i s m i l i t a r y duties. These pursuits were r e l a x a t i o n f o r him i n h i s o f f duty hours. On furlough, he went sketching, e i t h e r on the South Downs, or i n London, amongst the ruins i n the v i c i n i t y of Saint Paul's Cathedral. He also made p e n c i l sketches of h i s fellow men-at-arms. 17 Two small drawings i n the a r t i s t s s possession, P o r t r a i t of Seaman Brown, 8-5/8" x 7-1/8" (figure 1) and P o r t r a i t of Captain A.K. Guest, 8-9/16" x 5-7/8" (figu r e 2) are t y p i c a l examples of Smith's work i n 1943.** The drawings, which have been cropped, are on s i m i l a r paper i n d i c a t i n g that they were removed from the sketch book which Smith car-12 r i e d i n h i s haversack. Both drawings, are c l o s e l y r e l a t e d i n s t y l e , although there i s a discernable dif f e r e n c e i n the handling of the med-ium i n d i c a t i n g that f i g u r e 1 predates fig u r e 2. In fi g u r e 1, Seaman Brown i s presented f r o n t a l l y , with h i s eyes averted to the r i g h t . He i s wearing a naval cap and a d u f f l e coat. A p a i r of binoculars i s hung around h i s neck. In f i g u r e 2, Capt. Guest i s presented i n a three-quarters l e f t p r o f i l e , and i s wearing a loose jacket. The s i m i l a r i t y of the drawings l i e s i n the l i n e a r approach to the handling of the subject matter. The emphasis i n both drawings i s on the containirig-outline, a f t e r which the modelling i s f i l l e d i n , as Smith had learned i n Winnipeg. These two drawings also r e f l e c t the influence of the commercial draftsmanship which Smith has practiced at Brigden's. This i s most noticeable i n the face of fig u r e 1, where the modelling i s done with a uniform shading, such as would be e f f e c t i v e when transferred to the p r i n t i n g press f o r catalogue i l l u s t r a t i o n . While generally s i m i l a r i n terms of s t y l e , a close inspection of the two drawings reveals three basic d i f f e r e n c e s which would i n d i c a t e a growth i n Smith's a b i l i t y and maturity as an a r t i s t . These drawings d i f f e r i n terms of the pose and placement of the subject on the page, i n the handling of the medium, and i n the expression of psychological content. 18 In f i g u r e 1, the subject, f r o n t a l l y posed, i s placed i n the centre of the page, creating a s t a t i c and symmetrical composition. In figur e 2, the s l i g h t l y l e f t of centre placement of Capt. Guest, posed i n three-quarter p r o f i l e , gives both the impression of c a r e f u l placement of the f i g u r e , as well as a s l i g h t but e f f e c t i v e asymmetry. In terms of the handling of the medium, two f a c t o r s should be noted. F i r s t l y , there i s a di f f e r e n c e between the two p o r t r a i t s i n the degree of f l u i d i t y of the drawing. Figure 1 i s t i g h t and c o n t r o l l e d , while f i g u r e 2 i s loose and sketchy. Secondly, there i s a marked d i f f e r -ence i n the o v e r a l l handling between f i g u r e 1 and fi g u r e 2. In figu r e 1, the emphasis of the drawing i s on the d e t a i l s of the head. Smith i s not too concerned about the d e t a i l s of the coat as one's eye moves out to the shoulder areas. This imbalance i n the treatment of the d e t a i l s , creates a sense of d i s j u n c t i o n between the head and the torso. The head has v o l -ume while the body i s f l a t . In the p o r t r a i t of Capt. Guest, there i s not such a concern f o r d e t a i l as i n fi g u r e 1. Rather, there i s a concern f o r a general statement of the f i g u r e expressed through an evenness of hand-l i n g . The r e s u l t i s a three dimensional fig u r e i n space which has a v o l -umetric unity not present i n f i g u r e 1. The differences i n the pose and placement of the subject on the page, as well as the differences i n the handling of the medium, con-t r i b u t e to the t h i r d d i f f e r e n c e between these drawings, the psychological impact. Figure 1, i s b a s i c a l l y concerned with d e t a i l . The subject looks out over the viewer's r i g h t shoulder and i s concerned with the outside world. One might consider t h i s drawing a statement of f a c t . In comparison, figu r e 2, i s concerned with a general impression. The subject, p a r t i a l l y turned away from the viewer, appears pensive and withdrawn. One i s 19 aware, i n t h i s drawing of the subject's personality, a c h a r a c t e r i s t i c not evident i n fig u r e 1. Smith's a r t i s t i c growth, as seen i n the dif f e r e n c e s between figu r e 1 and f i g u r e 2 resulted from two basic f a c t o r s . F i r s t l y , h i s ex-posure to and study of a much wider range of a r t than had been a v a i l a b l e i n Winnipeg, and secondly, h i s meeting and subsequent friendship with W i l l O g i l v i e (William A. O g i l v i e , 1901 - ). O g i l v i e had been born i n South A f r i c a and moved to Canada i n 1925. He had studied both i n Johannesburg and, at a l a t e r period, the Art Students League, New York. Immediately p r i o r to h i s service i n the army as a war a r t i s t , he had been the Director of the Art School of the Art Association of Montreal 13 (now the Montreal Museum of Fine A r t s ) . Col. Lindsay f e l t that i t would be natural f o r Smith, as an a r t i s t , to introduce O g i l v i e to other mem-14 bers of the regiment. During O g i l v i e ' s time with the PPCLI, he and Smith spent a great deal of time drawing and sketching: "We became great f r i e n d s . I learned a great deal from W i l l - e s p e c i a l l y i n terms of looking and getting away from the wash technique of P h i l l i p s and the Winnipeg t r a d i t i o n . O g i l v i e exposed me to the f a c t that you could do anything - from mixing your media, using grease r e s i s t s or pastels, to scratching with razor blades - you could do any;f thing you wanted i n order to get the desired e f f e c t . Part of t h i s was O g i l v i e ' s own approach to water colour and part of t h i s was the neces-s i t y of time - during the war you couldn't s i t around and wait for your washes to dry. You had to work quickly. I t was a great experience for me - a l i b e r a t i n g experience and the beginning of my breaking away from the t i g h t and c o n t r o l l e d t r a i n i n g I had i n Winnipeg, where, i f an a r t i s t had been using opaque on h i s water colours, i t would have been damned as h e r e t i c a l . " 15 20 The development observed i n Smith's drawings i s also evident i n h i s water colours. Of these e a r l y works, two examples i n the posses-sion of the a r t i s t , serve to show the changes and development i n Smith's s t y l e . S t i l l L i f e , 4-7/16" x 7-7/8" (figure 3) was done s h o r t l y a f t e r Smith's a r r i v a l i n England i n 1942. A small work, fig u r e 3 i s a study of various of h i s personal e f f e c t s . Set against the background of a salmon coloured wash arehhis pipe, his/cap, a p e n c i l , a water colour brush, a l e t t e r , and a sketch book. The colour range i s muted, the predominant hues being the blues and browns of the objects themselves. Quebec Barracks, Inverary, Scotland, 6-3/4" x 9-7/8" (figu r e 4) was done i n 1943 while on a sketching t r i p i n Scotland with O g i l v i e . The work i s an outdoor study of three beached landing c r a f t set against an expansive landscape. The colour scheme i s predominantly of blues and greys. Comparing the two water colours, one can see changes i n the choice of subject matter, i n composition, and i n handling of the medium. The subject matter of f i g u r e 3 i s objects close at hand. Adjusting to ac-t i v e m i l i t a r y l i f e , Smith i n i t i a l l y had l i t t l e time f o r water colour painting. Hence the choice of personal objects which could quickly be arranged f o r a small water colour study, a study very much i n the manner of an a r t school arrangement. Figure 4, i n contrast, i s an outdoor study done several months l a t e r during a period of l e i s u r e . In contrasting these two works i t i s noticeable that Smith has learned a great deal concerning the compositional approach to h i s subject matter. In S t i l l L i f e there i s a d i r e c t placement of the objects before the viewer, the objects tending to f l o a t i n space. There i s l i t t l e i n - -t e r n a l unity. One perceives the objects as a mass with l i t t l e r e l a t i o n s h i p 21 between them. After viewing the objects en masse, one sees them i n d i -v i d u a l l y . Quebec Barracks i s f a r more u n i f i e d . Rather than a d i r e c t f r o n t a l treatment of the subject matter, beached landing c r a f t , Smith leads the viewer into the scene using the landing c r a f t both as subject matter and v i s u a l device. One 'enters' the p i c t u r e v i a a diagonal thrust from the lower r i g h t . The eye than crosses the landing c r a f t , proceeding into the background. This r e s u l t s i n a v i s u a l tension between the f o r e -ground and the background which sustains i n t e r e s t i n the work. In the few months between figures 3 and 4 Smith has changed h i s use of the water colour medium. In f i g u r e 3, the a p p l i c a t i o n of the colour washes i s c a r e f u l , c o n t r o l l e d , and 'correct' with a strong em-phasis on capturing the d e t a i l s of the subject matter. There i s a myopic q u a l i t y to t h i s work i n i t s concern for expressing a l l the minutiae. Figure 4 contrasts markedly with f i g u r e 3. The colour washes have been dragged across wet paper and allowed to bleed into each other, creating the i l l u s i o n of great atmosphere depth. D e t a i l s have been ind i c a t e d , as i n the hawser around the stern of the two front c r a f t , instead of being c a r e f u l l y delineated. There i s a freshness of approach and execution not-iceably d i f f e r e n t from that of the S t i l l L i f e . C ertainly, t h i s freedom of expression and experimentation can be a t t r i b u t e d to O g i l v i e ' s i n f l u -ence. A few weeks a f t e r the sketching t r i p i n Scotland, Smith's regiment embarked f o r the S i c i l i a n Campaign invading S i c i l y on June 10, 1943. Ten days l a t e r , at Leonforte, Smith was severely wounded i n the r i g h t l e g . A f t e r a few days i n a f i e l d h o s p i t a l , he was transferred to a h o s p i t a l ship which transported him to Tunisia where he spent the next 22 few months recuperating. When he could move about Smith spent much of h i s time sketching the environs and capturing impressions of the l o c a l people 16 and the countryside. In November, Smith was sent back to London where he stayed u n t i l Christmas. On December 26 he l e f t f o r Canada, j o i n i n g Marion i n Vancouver on January 10, 1944. 23 FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER 2 1 Smith, August 29, 1974; February 13, 1977. 2 Smith, August 29, 1974. 3 Ibid. 4 C o l i n MacDougall, Execution (London: MacMillan Co., 1958). 5 Smith, August 29, 1974. 6 Smith, July 10, 1974. 7 Albert H. Robson, Canadian Landscape Painters (Toronto: Ryerson Press, 1932). 8 Smith, July 10, 1974. 9 Ibid. 10 Ibid. 11 These two drawings were exhibited along with others by Smith i n a small one man show at The Vancouver Art Gallery i n A p r i l , 1944. c f . Palette ( J . D e l i s l e Parker). C i t y A r t i s t Sketches on the I t a l i a n Front. The Province, A p r i l 29, 1944, magazine section, 3. 12 Smith, July 10, 1974. 13 J. Russell Harper, Painting i n Canada op. c i t . p. 427. 14 Smith, July 19, 1974. 15 Gordon Smith .(Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1976), p. 12. 16 Cf. Palette, op. c i t . 23a C H A P T E R 3 V A N C O U V E R 1 9 4 4 - 1 9 4 6 24 Smith rejoined h i s wife Marion i n Vancouver on January 10, 1944, a date which marked his re-entry into c i v i l i a n l i f e . This date also marked the beginning of a continuous period of strenuous a c t i v i t y which was to l a s t u n t i l September, 1946. During these two and a h a l f years, Smith's idea f o r a future career were formulated and acted upon. Painting, which had always been an i n t e g r a l part of h i s l i f e now became h i s c e n t r a l concern. By the end of 1944 Smith had decided to pursue a career as a professional painter and to become an art teacher as a means of support-ing himself f i n a n c i a l l y , f o r i n the mid-forties i n Vancouver, i t was not possible to l i v e on the proceeds of sales. As a r e s u l t of the desire to paint and the need to be a teacher, Smith spent 1945 and the f i r s t h a l f of 1946 going to school, and obtaining the necessary academic q u a l i f i c a -tions enabling him to teach. As with other veterans returning from a c t i v e service, one of the pressing p r a c t i c a l matters facing Smith was the f i n d i n g of a job. This was complicated by the fa c t that Smith also had to attend therapy treatment for h i s wounded l e g . A f t e r several forays i n t o the job market, Smith found a job i n the advertising department of The Vancouver Sun, one of Vancouver's three major d a i l y newspapers. For the next few months, he spent h i s mornings at the paper and h i s afternoons at Shaughnessy H o s p i t a l . Smith's job at The Vancouver Sun, s i l k s c r e e n i n g the placards which were posted at the newsstands to advertise the paper's s p e c i a l d a i l y columns, did not demand much of those s k i l l s which Smith had ac-quired while working at Brigden's. The job did, however, provide Smith with a thorough grounding i n the methods of s i l k s c r e e n p r i n t i n g , a med-ium which has remained a constant element i n h i s career.* 25 In the l a t e Spring of 1944, Smith transferred to the Art Depart-ment of The Vancouver Sun, where he worked under Paul Rand, Art Director 2 of the l i t h o g r a p h i c section, and a well known l o c a l a r t i s t . Working i n the Art Department better suited Smith, enabling him to use the s k i l l s he had learned at Brigden's. Working with Rand gave Smith an opportunity to t a l k with someone i n the a r t s about the p o s s i b i l i t i e s of a future 3 career. It was also an experience i n painstaking craftsmanship and 4 technique, i n which Smith concentrated on l e t t e r i n g and design. By the end of 1944, Smith r e a l i s e d that the career best suited to h i s needs, both aesthetic and f i n a n c i a l , was that of teaching art." 3 This d e c i s i o n entailed spending the f i r s t s i x months of 1945 at school, obtaining two of the three academic q u a l i f i c a t i o n s required of an a r t teacher - a Normal School Diploma and F i r s t Year U n i v e r s i t y . This d e c i -sion also meant that Smith would have to attend one year of a r t school to obtain the t h i r d academic q u a l i f i c a t i o n , an Art School Diploma. Thus, i n January, 1945, Smith faced an eighteen month educational programme. In the s i x month period of January - June, 1945, Smith was enrolled i n two simultaneous courses of study. The f i r s t was a day time course of accelerated study, s p e c i a l l y designed f o r veterans and admin-i s t e r e d by the Department of Veterans' A f f a i r s . This programme enabled Smith to get h i s Normal School Diploma by the end of A p r i l , 1945. The second course of study, taken at night at the King Edward High School, lasted u n t i l the end of June,1945, c r e d i t i n g Smith with the equivalent of F i r s t Year U n i v e r s i t y . 26 In the two month 'day time interval' of May - June, 1945, Smith secured a part-time job, teaching art at both the Selkirk and the Lord Strathcona Schools, an experience which further reinforced his de-cision to be an art teacher.^ In July, following the end of this part-time job and his evening classes, Smith returned to The Vancouver Sun, where he again worked with Paul Rand u n t i l the end of August, when he l e f t to enroll in the Vancouver School of Art (VSA).'' With this move, Smith effectively entered the Vancouver 'art scene'. While there had existed various sketch clubs and art societies in Vancouver since the incorporation of the city in 1886, r e a l i s t i c a l l y , one can only speak of an 'art scene' in Vancouver as dating from the opening of the VSA in 1925, a date which also saw the beginnings of g efforts to establish a civ i c art gallery. In 1945, the 'art scene' was, at best, twenty years old. Public support for the arts in a l l fields, l e t alone the visual arts, was limited both numerically and intellectually. Given Vancouver's youth, i t s relative lack of sophistication, and i t s geographical isolation from any major centre, the situation in Vancouver was fundamentally provincial. In 1945, interest in contemporary visual art in Vancouver centered around the Vancouver School of Art and the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) established in 1931. One concrete result of the act i v i t i e s of those interested in the visual arts, was the opening of the Vancouver. School of Decorative and Applied Arts in the f a l l of 1925, under the direction of Charles H. 9 Scott. As i s indicated by the original name (changed to the Vancouver School of Art in 1933) the emphasis of the teaching in the f i r s t years 27 was towards a p r a c t i c a l a p p l i c a t i o n of a r t , with classes being given i n drawing, painting, commercial a r t , costume design, china painting, and teacher's c l a s s e s . * ^ This i n i t i a l d i r e c t i o n towards a c r a f t a p p l i c a t i o n of the a r t s slowly changed over the next few years with the appointment of F.H. Varley (1881— 1969) to teach drawing and painting, and of J.W.G. MacDonald (1897 - 1960) to teach design and c r a f t s . * * Grace W. Melvin 12 joined the s t a f f i n 1928, teaching classes i n l e t t e r i n g . Although the classes taught s t i l l b a s i c a l l y emphasized the a p p l i c a t i o n of a r t to com-mercial design, the s t a f f now comprised a q u a l i f i e d and p r o f e s s i o n a l l y trained personnel whose concerns were those of a r t , rather than a r t as applied to commercial ends. The r e s u l t , as noted i n a l e c t u r e at the VAG i n January, 1>975 by Jack Shadbolt, a leading Vancouver painter and a student of the VSA at the time, was a gradual turning towards the more formal aspects of a r t , and a turning away from an emphasis on commercial 13 design. The o v e r a l l impression one gets, however, from reading the Vancouver School of Art calendars of the early years, i s that the VSA was s t i l l pre-emminently a place for 'applied and decorative' a r t . It was also, i n the l a t e 1920's and e a r l y 1930's, regarded by many of the leading Vancouver f a m i l i e s as a form of f i n i s h i n g school where one's 14 daughters might learn the s u i t a b l e a r t i s t i c graces. For the f i r s t few years, the vast proportion of students was female. It was only around 1930, that one could see the enrolment of students who were l a t e r to become serious and leading a r t i s t s i n Vancouver. *~* During the 1930's, the fortunes of the VSA p a r a l l e l e d those of the general economy, s u f f e r i n g extreme f i n a n c i a l cutbacks i n these De-pression years. As a r e s u l t of the f i n a n c i a l p o s i t i o n of the VSA, which 28 necessitated major salary cutbacks, and of t h e i r treatment there, Varley and MacDonald l e f t the VSA to found t h e i r own a r t school, the B r i t i s h Columbia College of Arts, which lasted from 1933 - 1935. 1 6 In 1933, the year when Varley and MacDonald l e f t the VSA, Bertram Charles Binning (Bert Binning), l a t e r an important and i n f l u e n -t i a l a r t i s t and teacher, as well as founder of the Fine Arts Department at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia i n 1949, joined the s t a f f upon h i s graduating from the VSA.*^ With a small s t a f f and a minimal budget, the VSA managed to carry on during the Depression years. Toward the end of the 1930's the f i n a n c i a l p i c t ure of the VSA improved somewhat with Jack 18 Shadbolt being hired i n 1938 to teach painting. In the development of painting i n Vancouver and by extension, B r i t i s h Columbia, during the 1930's and 1940's, the VSA was a c e n t r a l f a c t o r , as most of the serious a r t i s t s i n Vancouver were i n some way con-nected with the school, e i t h e r as teachers or as students. During the Second World War, the s t a f f of the VSA comprised Scott, Melvin, Fred Amess (who joined the s t a f f i n 1934, and was subsequently p r i n c i p a l from 1957 to 1970), Binning and Shadbolt. Age, t r a i n i n g , and aesthetic outlook separated these f i v e i n d i v i d u a l s : Scott, Melvin, Amess, and Binning, Shadbolt. Scott and Melvin had received t h e i r t r a i n i n g at the Glasgow School of Art and brought t h i s influence to bear on both the method of study and the structure of the academic programmes at the VSA. Amess, who had been 19 a student at the VSA i n the t h i r t i e s , was sympathetic to t h i s approach. This academic programme was based on a four year period of study i n which one started with drawing as the f i r s t of a ser i e s of steps 29 leading to working with o i l on canvas. In add i t i o n to t h i s c a r e f u l l y structured approach, i t should also be noted that the a t t i t u d e s and ideas of Scott, Melvin, and Amess were predominantly attuned to the examples of B r i t i s h painters of the f i r s t part of the twentieth century. In f a c t , 20 Scott did not view abstraction with any degree of favour. Those elements of experimentation with and i n t e r e s t i n recent developments i n contemporary a r t were provided by Binning and Shadbolt. It was they who provided the impetus for a te n t a t i v e probing and examin-ati o n of the then current a r t as well as that of the l a t e 1940's and the e a r l y 1950's. This grouping of the s t a f f does not imply d e f i n i t e d i v i s i o n between an 'old guard' and an 'avant garde'. Rather, what should be pointed out i s that Binning and Shadbolt, as a r e s u l t of t h e i r more r e -cent educational experiences away from Vancouver, brought with them an awareness of recent developments i n a r t , a knowledge which was not r e a d i l y 21 a v a i l a b l e i n Vancouver. Binning and Shadbolt provided a stimulus f or an awakening of i n t e r e s t i n contemporary a r t f o r those students so a t -tracted. I t was from t h i s group, as well as the a r t i s t s who moved to Vancouver i n the l a t e 1940's that was formed the group of a r t i s t s who 22 were l a t e r referred to as a 'school'. The other major factor i n the development of the v i s u a l a r t s i n Vancouver was the formation of the Vancouver Art Gallery Association, or as i t i s now r e f e r r e d to, The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG). The drive to e s t a b l i s h the VAG was headed by a l o c a l businessman, Henry A. Stone (1861 - 1943), whose idea, shared by others, was that the c i t y needed an ar t school as well as an a r t g a l l e r y . The a r t school was to teach and t r a i n the a r t i s t s , while the a r t g a l l e r y was to provide a forum where t h e i r work could be shown and where they could study good examples of a r t . 30 There had been, however, greater d i f f i c u l t y in persuading the City Hall to back the idea of an art gallery than there had been in persuading the City Hall to create an art school. No doubt the art school was a more 'practical' objective upon which to spend the taxpayers' -money. Hence the six year difference between the opening dates of the two i n s t i t u -tions. Stone, a man of considerable drive and perserverance, had, in the mid-twenties, brought together a group of ten - families, individuals, and businesses - each of whom pledged $10,000 toward the erection of a building and the purchase of a permanent collection. Both, would be dona-ted to the city on the condition that the latter provide both a suitable 23 site and the annual operating funds. In 1930, the cit y provided the location for what i s now the western third of the present gallery at 1145 West Georgia Street, and a building was constructed. The original section of the VAG (enlarged in 1951) was a small building of approximately 5,000 square feet which comprised the present five western galleries - north gallery, west, centre, and east courts, and the south gallery - office space for the Curator and his secretary, as well as a small library. One of the more charming and picturesque as-pects of the building was the Art Deco frieze across the facade, with busts of Michaelangelo and Rembrandt gracing each side of the entrance. A caretaker's suite in the basement further reduced the already inade-quate storage space. In 1930, with the building under construction, Stone and Charles Scott travelled to England to purchase those works which were to form the nucleus of the new permanent collection. The founding group had decided that the basis of the collection was to be "a selection of the 31 work of British ar t i s t s from the earliest days of British art". In London, Stone and Scott contacted Sir Charles Holmes, former Director of 25 the National Gallery, who gave his advice on which works to buy. The resulting collection comprised a broad range of o i l s , water colours, drawings and prints, as well as a few pieces of sculpture, a l l from the 17th to the early 20th centuries. Included were paintings by George Morland, Sir David Wilkie, and David Cox; water colours by Thomas Hearne, Alexander Cozens, John Sell Cotman, and Thomas Girtin, while of the sculptures, the most significant piece was Head of a G i r l by Sir 26 Jacob Epstein*. Stone et a l were pleased with their results: "We could easily have purchased a mixed collection to please the public taste which would have been of l i t t l e use to the art student and probably lose i n -terest and value in years to come, whilst a collec-tion of single examples of British art is unique on this continent and as such w i l l , as the years go by gain in reputation and value. It was a bold decision as the money we had to buy a collection would not have purchased one of the many pictures in the National Gallery. However, we did our best and gained Sir Charles' approval when we showed him photographs of our f i r s t two or three weeks.'"r27 In the ensuing years, Stone's optimistic forecast for the im-portance of the collection did not materialize. In reality, most of the works purchased were unimportant pieces by secondary painters of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Notable exceptions to this observation are Henry Fuseli'sr' Dream of Belinda, and the body of late 18th and early 19th cen-tury British water colours. In general terms, Stone's comments can be taken as typical of that segment of the general public in Vancouver which could or would sup-port the visual arts. Noticeable is the emphasis on British art and the 32 equal lack of interest in or knowledge of Continental European painting of the twentieth century. Even their knowledge of contemporary British Art seems limited, as shown by the purchase of a work such as Bateman's Cows in the Rick Yard, while artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Ben Nicholson, Paul Nash, and others were passed over. Given such a restrictive knowledge of art, the creation of an art gallery to specialize in British Art for the people liv i n g on the West Coast of British Columbia can only be described as colonial. The interplay of The Vancouver Art Gallery and the Vancouver School of Art formed the basis of the a r t i s t i c community in Vancouver when Smith enrolled at the VSA in the f a l l of 1945. During the year 1945 - 1946, Smith took drawing from Binning and painting from Shadbolt. He also took classes from Scott and Melvin in their respective special-ties. As well as his studies, Smith taught lettering classes twiceea week to help the VSA cope with the surging enrolment caused by the returning veterans. In the spring of 1946, Smith graduated with his Art School Diploma, thus obtaining the necessary qualifications to be an art teacher. In September of 1946, Smith joined the staff of the Vancouver School of Art. 33 FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER 3 1 Smith, July 19, 1974. 2 Paul Rand, (1896 - 1970). Born in Bonn, Germany. Attended art school at Frankfurt am Main for one year before coming to Canada in 1912. Studied at the Vancouver School of Art at night classes under Varley, MacDonald and Scott. Became a com-mercial a r t i s t in 1934, later joining the Sun Publishing Co., in 1939. Later art Director of the Lithographic sec-tion. Taught at the Polytechnic Institute, Vancouver, 1937; Life drawing for the Services at Vancouver Barracks, 1944. (Vancouver Art Gallery Library, Biographical f i l e ) . 3 Smith, July 19, 1974. 4 Ibid. 5 Smith, July 10, 1974. Cf. also David Watmough, How It Is To Be A Painter, op. c i t . 6 Smith, August 29, 1974. 7 Ibid. 8 For an in-depth study of the early art a c t i v i t i e s in Vancouver cf. William Wylie Thorn, "The Fine Arts in Vancouver, 1886 -1930: An Historical Survey" (M.A. Thesis, Department of Fine Arts, University of British Columbia, April, 1969). 9 Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, Calendar, 1925 -1926. Charles Scott, (1886 - 1964). B. Newmilne, Ayrshire, Scotland. Studied at Glasgow School of Art and in Belgium, Holland, and Germany. Moved to Calgary 1912; subsequently in Vancouver. Principal of Vancouver School of Art 1925 -52. D. Vancouver. (J. Russell Harper, Painting in Canada, op. c i t . p. 428). 10 Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied Arts, Calendar, 1926 -1927. Listed as the Staff were: Charles H. Scott - Principal - Drawing, Painting, and Commercial Art. Charles Marega - Modelling. Marega, 1876 - 1939, was born in Genoa, Italy. He came to Vancouver in 1910. He was responsible for many of the early large-scale sculptures in the city, including those of the lions at the south entrance of the Lion's Gate Bridge, as well as that of Capt. Vancouver (City Hall). 34 Mrs. F. Hood - Drawing and painting. Mrs. Sharland - Costume design. S.P. Judge - Teachers' c l a s s e s . S.J. Bryant - Saturday morning c l a s s e s . F.J. Simpson - Saturday morning cla s s e s . 11 Frederick Horseman Varley, (1881 - 1969). B. S h e f f i e l d England. Studied at S h e f f i e l d School of Art and Antwerp Academy. Commercial a r t i s t , London, England 1904 - 08, S h e f f i e l d 1908 - 11, i n Toronto since 1945. ARCA 1922. Member of the Group of Seven 1920, Canadian Group of Painters 1933. D. U n i o n v i l l e . (J.R. Harper, Painting i n Canada, op. c i t . p. 429). , James W.G. (Jock) MacDonald, ,(1897 - 1960). B. Thursco, Scotland. Studied at Edinburgh College of Art to 1922; f a b r i c de-signer 1922 - 25. Taught at L i n c o l n School of Art, at Vancouver School of Art 1926 - 1933, at the B r i t i s h Columbia College of Arts, Vancouver 1933 - 35, and at the Ontario College of Art a f t e r 1947. Member Canadian Group of Painters 1933, Painters Eleven. D. Toronto. (J.R. Harper, Painting i n Canada, op. c i t . p. 426). Fred Amess, (1909 - 1970). B. England, 1909, Amess came to Canada i n 1913. He studied at the VSA, graduating i n 1929. In 1934 he became a f u l l - t i m e i n s t r u c t o r at the VSA. In 1957, be-came the p r i n c i p a l of the VSA, which p o s i t i o n he held u n t i l h i s death. (Vancouver Art Gallery l i b r a r y , Bio-graphical f i l e s ) . 12 Grace A. Melvin. B. Scotland. Came to Vancouver i n 1»926 to teach Design at the Vancouver School of Art. Remained at the VSA as Head of the Department of Design u n t i l 1951. 13 Jack L. Shadbolt, informal l e c t u r e at the VAG, January, 1975. 14 Ibi d . 15 B.C. Binning enrolled i n 1929, E.J. Hughes enrolled i n 1929, and O r v i l l e Fisher enrolled i n 1930. 16 Charles C. H i l l , Canadian Painting i n the T h i r t i e s (Ottawa: The National G a l l e r y of Canada, 1975), p. 57. 17 Bertram Charles Binning, (1909 - 1976). B. Medicine Hat, Alberta. Studied at Vancouver School of Art, Art Students League, New York, i n London with Henry Moore. Taught at Vancouver School of Art, Head of Art Department, UBC 1949 -(J.R. Harper, Painting i n Canada, op. c i t . p. 420). Binning remained at U.B.C. u n t i l 1968. I . 35 18 Jack Leonard Shadbolt, (1909 - ). B. Shoeburyness, England. Studied in London with Victor Pasmore; in Paris with Lhote; and at the Art Students League, New York. (J.R. Harper, Painting in Canada, op. c i t . p. 429). 19 Smith, February 13, 1977. 20 Smith, July 19, 1974. 21 Binning studied in London in 1939, with Moore and Ozenfant. Cf. Doreen Walker. B.C. Binning, op., c i t . Shadbolt studied in England at the Euston Road School in 1936, and later that year in Paris with Othon Friesz and Andre Lhote. Cf. Jack Shadbolt (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1969). 22 R.H. Hubbard, 'A Climate for the Arts," op. c i t . p. 139. In this a r t i c l e as well as Ostiguy, "The Fir s t Biennial of Canadian Paint-ing," as well as standard references such as Harper,'op. c i t . , and Reid, 'A Concise History of Canadian Painting , the core of artists referred to as The Painters of The West Coast are: B.C. Binning, Jack Shadbolt, Don Jarvis, Lionel Thomas, Peter Aspell, Bruno Bobak, Molly Bobak, and Gordon Smith. 23 Henry A. Stone, "Notes on the Founding of the Vancouver Art Gallery," The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, IX (October, 1941), n.p. Stone's history of the founding of the VAG is the most complete and concise available. There are, as well, scattered undated newspaper clippings in the VAG f i l e s which discuss the efforts of Stone et a l . to establish an art gallery. It i s in reports such as these that one finds phrases such as "camping on the steps of City Hall", which indicate the nature of the struggle to establish the gallery. 24 Ibid. 25 Sir Charles Holmes, (1868 - 1936). Director of the National Gallery, London, 1916 - 1928. 26 The new permanent collection of the VAG was l i s t e d in the Souvenir Catalogue, Opening Exhibition, October 5, 1931. Listed were a l l the works purchased by Stone and Scott, as well as other donations to the permanent collection. 27 Henry A. Stone, op. c i t . 35a CHAPTER 4 VANCOUVER 1946 - 1951 36 In September 1946, having just graduated from the VSA, Smith was asked to join the staff of the school as the Instructor of Graphics, Design, and Commercial Art.* This, his f i r s t full-time position as a teacher, f u l f i l l e d some of the aspirations about a future career which Smith had had prior to the Second World War while a student at the 2 Winnipeg School of Art. The position marked the beginning of his car-eer in education, which was to parallel his career as an a r t i s t , and which enabled him to pursue his independent activities as a painter, as 3 he now had some financial security. Even more important than the f i n -ancial aspect of working at the VSA, was the daily contact that existed between the artists working there, artists concerned with contemporary painting, who would be central to the development of art in Vancouver in 4 the next decade. This close daily contact among these artists was i n -valuable to a l l of them, for i t provided them with a focus for their a c t i v i t i e s , as well as giving a form of moral support for each of them in his respective work. During the ten years following the Second World War, Vancouver was a small, albeit growing, provincial city, geographically isolated on the west coast of Canada. In 1946 the main industries in the province were mining, forestry, and fishing and Vancouver functioned basically as the major western port of Canada, being the terminus of both the Canadian Pacific Railway and the Canadian National Railway. Transcontinental a i r service had only been in operation since May 1939, and in 1946 i t was s t i l l a novelty. Rail travel was the major form of passenger movement 37 across the country. Fundamentally, therefore, Vancouver was five days away from the major eastern urban centres. Support for the arts in the city was maintained by a core of amateur groups or a r t i s t i c societies whose numbers remained f a i r l y con-stant . It was this small core of supporters which attempted to keep Vancouver's various cultural endeavours alive."* The cultural ambience of Vancouver in the late 1940's was summed up by George Woodcock in a 1974 a r t i c l e in which he described the 'scene' of 1949: "What I missed most about Canada when I came here was a kind of intellectual and a r t i s t i c community that I was used to and that now exists so abundantly here . . . Of course there was a community with which I came in contact, but so tenuous in character, that I was often reminded of Auden's lines: 'Yet, dotted everywhere, Ironic points of light Flashout wherever the Just Exchange their messages.'" 6 For the a r t i s t teaching at the VSA, the School, of necessity, became a place for discussion and the exchange of ideas. That the VSA should become a centre for the artists teaching there, was a result of the rapid growth in the student body at the School in the years 1945-47, which was parallelled by an equally rapid growth in the size of the staff. The classes given at the VSA Immediately after the Second World War were perhaps more closely a l l i e d to what might have been given at a vocational school. Courses were designed to cope with the demands of training large numbers of veterans for careers in c i v i l -ian l i f e , rather than to train them to be artists as one would normally expect in an art school. As a result, in these immediately post-war years 38 there were a great number of professional artists teaching courses at the VSA, which did not relate directly to their individual professional specialties. If the number of professional artist s at the VSA grew rapidly in the late 1940's, public support for the work of these artists did not. Collectors of contemporary art were few, and sales were infrequent.^ Op-portunities to exhibit work were limited to two major group shows held g annually at the VAG, one in the Spring and one in the F a l l . There were no commercial galleries interested in displaying the work of local ar t i s t s . One did not make a li v i n g selling art in Vancouver. Hence, the VSA achieved a position of significance for these local a r t i s t s . It provided them with a financial basis and a centre of stimulation in an otherewise relatively barren environment. It was in this milieu that Smith started to teach and that he also had time to think and to talk about those painting activ-i t i e s which he pursued at home. Of the three courses which Smith taught, Graphics, Design, and Commercial Art, the Graphics course was central. In most instances, the d i f f i c u l t a r t i s t i c problems posed in Design and Commercial Art could be 9 solved in terms of the graphic processes. In 1946-47 at the School, these processes were represented simply by a silkscreen press. Estab-lishing this silkscreen press and teaching a course i n serigraphy, Smith drew upon his extensive practical experience gained at The Vancouver Sun. The implementation of the silkscreen course marked a beginning, for Smith and the VSA, of several years of involvement with the graphic processes, 39 by the end of which had been added to the School's equipment both i n -taglio and lithographic presses.*^ t While Smith's hours at the VSA were concerned with aspects of print making, his hours at home were concerned with the problems of painting. It was, however, fortunate that Smith was involved with the Graphics course at the VSA, for the formal concerns of the course par-a l l e l l e d the concerns and problems which he was facing in his painting. In the three years which followed September 1946, the central issue with which he was concerned in his painting was that of the two-dimensionality of the canvas, or, as Smith put i t , 'the space of the canvas': "At that point I was concerned with my awareness of the space, or the flatness, of the canvas. I know that today this sounds like a very obvious thing, but at the time i t was a major concern of mine." 11 A process of discovery and experimentation was to become Smith's single preoccupation in painting and graphic work u n t i l the period around 1950. His graphic work of the period 1946 - 1950 was either in the form 12 of silkscreen prints or of etchings. These etchings, besides revealing something generally about Smith's style at this time, also show two salient characteristics about Smith himself, characteristics which have remained constant in his car-eer as an a r t i s t . The f i r s t of these characteristics is a concern with ex-perimentation and exploration of new areas of expression, indicating his desire to expand the boundaries of his experience. The second character-i s t i c revealed in these three early etchings (albeit in a s t i l l skeletal fashion) i s a pattern of development and growth in his art, a pattern that 40 has been repeated throughout his career. That i s , given any medium to work in, Smith's a b i l i t y to exploit i t develops from a f a i r l y tight, almost restricted approach, into a fl u i d and more abstract handling, in which there is a lessening of the detailed depiction of subject matter. This pattern of development, already noticed in the wartime sketches, is evident in the graphic work of 1946 on, and i t i s present in the paintings of this same period. The pattern is most completely expressed (in the period of Smith's l i f e covered by this thesis) in the paintings of 1951-55. While teaching serigraphy at the VSA during the academic year 1946-47, Smith was experimenting on his own with the etching process (later he taught a course in etching at the VSA). His i n i t i a l attempts at etching had started in August 1946, just prior to his employment at 13 the VSA. Using simple equipment and some technical advice from Charles H. Scott, he produced a few etchings over the next few months. There are three modest-sized etchings of this period in the artist's collection: Point Atkinson, Study, and Nature Forms. While these three works are each concerned with different subject matter - naturalistic landscape, the human figure, and a free composition based on forms taken from the land-scape - there is an underlying thread that joins them together, and that indicates how Smith's approach to a medium tends to develop. In these three etchings, there can be seen developing an emphasis on the c l a r i f i -cation of line, a use of line as a means of accentuating forms and their inter-relationships, and a movement toward abstraction. 41 Point Atkinson, 5-ll/16"x 7-3/8" (figure 5) i s Smith's f i r s t 14 etching, done in August 1946. The main motif of the etching, the Point Atkinson Lighthouse, Vancouver, is placed slightly l e f t of centre, in the middle ground. It i s seen across the foreground, which depicts the rocky promontory on which the lighthouse i s located. The background i n -dicates a turbulent sky of clouds. Forms are built up with nervous, scratchy parallel lines which specify the details of the site and of the buildings. Study, 11-11/16" x 5-5/8" (figure 6) shows a technical improve-ment over Point Atkinson, and i s a work of some accomplishment. The sub-ject, a semi-draped female figure holding a brush, i s seen from the back. This work, twice as large as Point Atkinson, demonstrates a much surer grasp of technique, a grasp that i s expressed in the linear quality of the image. In Point Atkinson, there i s an overall effect created by the use of scratchy parallel lines, whereas in Study the concentration of the artist's effort i s upon the definition of form through a minimum of clear and vigorous lines. With more economy, Smith, in Study, had indi -cated the volume and weight of the figure, as well as giving i t a psy-chological presence. Having shown a degree of competence and familiarity with the etching medium, Smith went on to further experimentation, this time more obviously with 'the problem of the canvas (plate)'. Nature Forms, 10-9/16 x 6-3/4", 1947/48 (figure 7), while perhaps not as visually successful or satisfying as either Point Atkinson or Study, is certainly more ambitious 42 than either of them, and i t is the most interesting of these three works. It (figure 7) illustrates the fundamental problem with which Smith con-cerned himself in the years immediately following 1946: the flatness of the p i c t o r i a l surface and the depiction of figurative subject matter on that surface. The subject matter of this etching i s a landscape composed of various stock landscape details typical of the west coast - fern fronds, coniferous trees, tree trunks, mountains and the sea. The etching is l e f t unresolved, there being a conflict between the demands of realism and those of abstraction. Essentially, the forms are rendered as f l a t pat-terns, with the exception of the fern fronds in the lower centre fore-ground, which have volume and which serve to indicate a considerable amount of three dimensional space at the bottom of the etching. The upper four f i f t h s of the etching is composed of flattened shapes representing the other landscape elements. These flattened shapes overlap in some areas to give the impression of receding space, while other areas, such as in the upper f i f t h of the etching, they abut on each other and serve to emphasize the flatness of the overall p i c t o r i a l surface. These com-plexities leave the viewer with the impression that Smith i s aware of 16 modes of abstraction. Noticeably, the upper third of the work is remin-iscent of the work of Lionel Feininger, c.1913. At this point in Smith's work, abstraction appears to be a formula to be applied to the depiction of objects, rather than an end in i t s e l f . These graphic works can be seen as problem solving forays re-lated to the concerns of Smith's paintings of the same time. Speaking of his graphic works Smith has noted: 43 "It (the graphic work) is a change when my work is going badly. I feel less responsible for what hap-pens; the technique creates the forms to some ex-tent. I often get new forms and ideas in this way, and this in turn helps my painting." 17 Of the paintings done after September 1946, Smith exhibited a selection of approximately ten works in the cafeteria of the VSA (figure 8) in the Spring of 1948. This was not a one-man exhibition, but rather an exhibition of VSA faculty work. As can be seen from the photo-graph, (figure 8) these paintings were easel sized works, the largest be-18 ing approximately 24" x 36". Several general observations might be made about this exhibi-tion, regarding Smith's painting in the period following his graduation from the VSA 1946-48. F i r s t l y , in this period, his approach is basically naturalistic, incorporating a high degree of detail. Secondly, the subject matter which interests him is that of the west coast of Canada, such as local scenery and the imagery of the indigenous Indian culture. Thirdly, there is an obvious and strong element of p i c t o r i a l experimentation. Fourthly, the overall style of these works is one which would be gener-a l l y identified as belonging to the t h i r t i e s . While a great deal of specific information cannot be gleaned from the photograph of the exhibition, certain aspects about the i n d i v i -dual paintings can be noted and certain influences remarked upon. With reference to the image of the Point Atkinson painting, and to a lesser degree the manner in which the forms echo each other, one i s aware of the presence of Lawren Harris. Specifically, one thinks of Harris' 44 painting, Lighthouse, Father Point. The second painting from the l e f t , 20 Alert Bay, i s a different type of painting. The change between this work and Point Atkinson is a change from the scenic manner to the anec-dotal. With the inclusion of an Indian woman in the lower l e f t foreground of Alert Bay, an element of social comment is introduced, as in Jack 21 Shadbolt's work of the same period. The two paintings of totem poles bear immediate reference to the work of Emily Carr (d. 1945), both in terms of the choice of subject matter and in terms of their specific reference to certain subject matter and in terms of their specific reference to certain of Carr's 22 paintings. The painting of the two totems (third from right) i s akin to Carr's Kitwancool Totems, while the painting of the single totem, 23 (immediate right) is close to Zunoqua of the Cat Village . While an a f f i n i t y with Carr's work i s evident, Smith's paintings are quite d i f -ferent from those of the earlier painter, in that they lack the inten-sity of expression and empathy with the Indians, which forms such an important part of Carr's work. Smith's adoption of the Indian imagery is a straight-forward application of visual material as well as r e f l e c t -ing a concern for the aboriginal inheritance of the province. Noticeable in these two paintings of totem poles by Smith i s the strong emphasis on the surface of the canvas. While depth is i n d i -cated in the background of both paintings, the overall impression in both of them i s one of the totems being immediately at the front of the scene. In the painting of the two totems, one has the impression that the totems are almost pushing out of the canvas, and that the background 45 i s merely a backdrop. In the painting of the single totem, which is more pointedly sympathetic in i t s concern for the 'space of the canvas', the hands of the totemic figure are parallel to and f l a t on the surface of the canvas. While these two paintings are s t i l l tentative with respect to this placing of the subject matter f l a t on the surface of the canvas, they do provide the f i r s t evidence of Smith's concern for and awareness of the fundamental two-dimensionality of that surface. In addition to the sense of experimentation evident in Smith's paintings in this exhibition, one should take note of the range of his 24 palette. In these early paintings, the range of colours used centres about the basic colours of the west coast, i.e., blues, greens, and earth tones. This colour range, as well as the f a i r l y strong and intense hue values he used at this time, was to remain a constant - in Smith's paintings for the next two years (1948-50). Of the various other general characteristics of Smith's paintings, c.1948, which one can gather from the photograph of this ex-hibition, (figure 8) the most noticeable i s that of the experimentation and exploration of form. While these paintings are, to a large degree, naturalistic representations of an observed scene or object, they are also excercises in working with different s t y l i s t i c approaches. One is reminded of various of Cezanne's paintings of houses in the region of Estaques. This employment of idioms of late nineteenth and early (pre-1939) twentieth century European painting, reveals the general level of 46 awareness amongst the visually educated i n Vancouver in 1948. In these paintings by Smith, shown at the VSA cafeteria, one can detect the i n -fluence of his teachers at the VSA, of people outside the VSA, and of the paintings that could be seen at The Vancouver Art Gallery in the immediately post-war years. Looking at these paintings,by Smith, one can see that he was starting to catch up with the developments of twen-tieth century western European painting. He applied the formal inven-tions of this painting to local subject matter, but he did not push his experiments to their limit. Ultimately, with their close modelling and articulation of form, these paintings remain most closely a l l i e d to the 26 general trends of painting in Canada in the t h i r t i e s . 1948 was a year of consolidation and new beginnings for Smith. At the age of twenty-nine, he had experienced a long period of training, both practical and academic, in the areas of drawing, water colour, * graphics, and o i l painting. He was established as both a teacher and a painter, and at the centre of a growing a r t i s t i c community. The late 1940's was a time of considerable enthusiasm for both Smith and the other Vancouver artists , during which they took part in various act i v i t i e s which reinforced for them a new sense of place and of purpose. During this period, Smith built a house, as did many of the other artists in 27 Vancouver. The artists were close friends, and frequently gathered at 28 each others' studios to talk and socialize. While print making, drawing, and water colour remained im-portant to Smith, painting with o i l on canvas now became his primary 47 form of work. In the seven years following 1948, he moved away from the tentative searchings which had characterized the paintings exhibited in the VSA cafeteria. In this period (1948 - 1955) he developed a more per-sonal style of painting, one which s t i l l however, reflected his training and the milieu in which he worked, as well as the educational opportunities of which he had availed himself. The paintings of the period 1948-55 form another example of the c y c l i c a l pattern of growth which has been dis-cussed above. In exploring the problem of the 'space of the canvas', Smith's paintings of 1948-55 develop from a form of somewhat abstracted naturalisam, to a form of l y r i c a l abstraction based on the landscape e l -ements of the west coast, in which the 'gesture of painting' becomes the 29 dominant painterly concern. The paintings of these years f a l l into two distinct periods: 1948 to the late Spring of 1950, and the F a l l of 1950 to 1955. These two periods are separated by the Summer of 1950, during which Smith attended the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Prior to the San Francisco t r i p , Smith's paintings were thickly painted compositions using Cubist devices to emphasize the flatness of the picture plane. Following the San Francisco t r i p and his exposure there to gestural, non-figurative painting in the manner of Jackson Pollock, Smith's paintings from 1950-55 become increasingly concerned with the act of painting, in which the sur-face and the 'image' on i t are one. Eight of those paintings have been chosen for the purposes of discussion here, to clearly outline the development which occurs in Smith's art within the two periods, 1948-50 and 1950-55. They are: 48 S T I L L L I F E 1948/49 M E L O N A N D L E M O N 1949 V E R T I C A L A B S T R A C T I O N 1950/51 B A R E T R E E S 1952 W E T N I G H T 1953 B U R R A R D B R I D G E 1954 O R C H A R D 1954 S T R U C T U R E W I T H R E D S U N 1955 T h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f S m i t h ' s w o r k 1948-55, w a s c e r t a i n l y l e s s l i n e a r t h a n t h e c h o i c e o f t h e s e e i g h t w o r k s w o u l d i n d i c a t e . F r o m 1948 -1955 S m i t h p a i n t e d i n t h e n e i g h b o u r h o o d o f 150 p a i n t i n g s , i n w h i c h h e a t t e m p t e d t o w o r k t h r o u g h t h e p r o b l e m s o f s u c c e s s f u l l y i n c o r p o r a t i n g a n i m a g e , a f r e e d o m i n t h e h a n d l i n g o f p a i n t , a n d a n a w a r e n e s s o f t h e p i c ^ t u r e p l a n e i n t o h i s w o r k . B u t t h e e i g h t w o r k s w e r e d i s c u s s e d b y t h e a r t -i s t a s b e i n g s i g n i f i c a n t a n d r e p r e s e n t a t i v e o f h i s d e v e l o p m e n t 1948^55; a n d i t w a s a l s o o n t h e s u g g e s t i o n o f t h e a r t i s t , a f t e r d i s c u s s i o n w i t h t h e w r i t e r , t h a t t h e s e e i g h t w o r k s w e r e c h o s e n f o r i n c l u s i o n i n S m i t h ' s r e t r o s p e c t i v e e x h i b i t i o n a t T h e V a n c o u v e r A r t G a l l e r y , A p r i l 1976. S t i l l L i f e , 15V x 13V, 1948/49 ( f i g u r e 9) p r o v i d e s a s t a r t -i n g p o i n t f r o m w h i c h o n e c a n t r a c e t h e d e v e l o p m e n t o f S m i t h ' s w o r k o f t h e f o l l o w i n g s e v e n y e a r s . A s m a l l w o r k , i t c o n t a i n s s t a n d a r d e l e m e n t s f o r a s t i l l l i f e s t u d y - a p l a n t s e t o n a t a b l e a g a i n s t t h e b a c k d r o p o f a w a l l . T h e c u b i s t - d e r i v e d a r r a n g e m e n t i s b e t r a y e d b y t h e t i l t - t o p p e r s p e c t i v e o f t h e t a b l e a n d t h e f l o w e r p o t . T h i s w o r k i s c l o s e l y r e l a t e d t o t h e p a i n t -i n g s e x h i b i t e d a t t h e V S A , i n t h a t i t c o n t i n u e s t h e c o l o u r s c h e m e s o f r i c h b l u e s a n d g r e e n s w h i c h a r e , i n t h i s w o r k , a c c e n t u a t e d b y t h e d e e p o r a n g e a n d r e d t o n e s o f t h e f l o w e r p o t . W h a t i s n o t i c e a b l e i n t h i s w o r k i s t h e c l e a r s t a t e m e n t o f t h e 49 two basic concerns which would characterize Smith's painting style as i t emerged in the following years: the concern for the f l a t space of the canvas, and the concern for the inherent qualities of the paint per se. Beyond the representation of the actual s t i l l l i f e elements, the work does achieve 'flatness', but i t is a flatness more concerned with a deocrative pattern in the background than with the overall conception of the image as i t relates to the picture plane. The pigment in S t i l l Life is thickly applied, with the background area f u l l of dense scumbling. This manipulative and expressive use of the paint reflects the study which Smith made c.1948 of the contemporary American painter, Bradley Walker Tomlin (1889 - 1953). 3 0 Melon and Lemon, 41" x 23", 1949 (figure 10) continues the spatial and material concerns of S t i l l L i f e . This work is also the largest canvas Smith had attempted up to this point, being approximately four and a half times as large as S t i l l Life. While Melon and Lemon starts with the idea of a s t i l l l i f e - melon wedges and a lemon placed on a wrought iron chair - the actual depiction of the objects i s not the p r i -mary concern. Although the objects of the s t i l l l i f e are emphasized, there is an almost equal attention paid to the background. This results in pas-sages such as the treatment of the chair legs, where the object and the background merge into one. This merging effect i s continued elsewhere in the work in the handling of the colour. The melon and lemon are high-lighted by their treatment in b r i l l i a n t red and yellow, yet their import-ance to the composition i s muted by the attention given to the applica-tion of the paint in the background. This integration of the objects of 50 the painting with the background takes Smith's concern for the 'space of the canvas' a l i t t l e further. In this painting Smith introduces, for the f i r s t time, strong black lines to outline and define the main objects. These dark linear elements, while indicating the volume of the melon and the lemon, reduce the rest of the s t i l l l i f e elements to a f l a t decorative pattern through which the background emerges. The effect is similar to that of a stained glass window. The use of the heavy black line as a form defining . structural element was something which Smith "stumbled onto" in 1949, and 31 i t was to be an important aspect of his painting after 1950. In the Spring of 1949, Smith attended a lecture at The Vancouver Art Gallery, given by Douglas McAgee, Director of the California School of Fine Arts in San Francisco. In the course of the lecture, McAgee de-scribed his school, as well as the general art community of that city. The idea of attending the California School of Fine Arts thus entered Smith's mind and, in 1950, he decided that he would actually go there. In June 1950, Gordon and Marion drove from Vancouver to San Francisco, where he enrolled in the July/August session of the California School of Fine Arts, taking the advanced painting class as well as a class in l i t h -ography . The summer months spent at The California School of Fine Arts were to prove of crucial importance in the future development of Smith's painting. The time has remained vividly in Smith's memory: "In 1950 I enrolled at an advanced painting class at the California School of Art. It so happened that Herb Gilbert was also enrolling in the class, so the two of us took the course together. I worked under Elmer Bischoff that summer. Bischoff,who was a f a i r l y figurative painter, was then painting complete abstractions. He said on the f i r s t day we were there, 'O.K. Start painting and I ' l l be back next Tuesday' - this was on a Friday. He also said to paint a f a i r l y good-sized canvas. So Herb and I went to the lumber yard and got some 1 x 2's, stretched some canvas, and we painted. At that particular time I thought you just <can't go to a place and just sort of paint the landscape or whatever. So we went out on the coast and we made drawings of rocks, etc. We really worked at i t . After 3 or 4 days we had these f a i r l y solid Sutherland-like thorny forms. On Tuesday Bischoff came back. In the meantime there was this big black man, who had got a stretcher that was about 9 feet - I'm not ex-aggerating. He had nailed a bedspread to this wonky stretcher and had the thing on the floor. He was taking black paint and pouring i t on and rubbing i t with his hands - he got black paint a l l over. Well, we thought, 'My God, this guy i s mad.1 Coming from Vancouver we just weren't pre-pared for this. When Bischoff returned he didn't even look at our canvases, or so i t seemed. He went up to this guy, got very excited, called us around and talked about this painting a l l morning. He then told us, 'I want you to put these things away and start on a big canvas. Get at least a 60" canvas and I want you to go down to the school shop, buy Fuller's house paint and just start painting. Don't start with anything in mind, just start painting. Just put some paint or some colour down.' There were about 12 of us in the class and we were a l l astounded, half were furious, as i t appeared that Bischoff hadn't even looked at our canvases; so they went to the director to complain. Herb and I figured we had come this far, so we'd stick i t out and see what happened. So we did what he told us to do. I put 52 my canvas on the floor and started playing around with this paint. It became for me an exciting ex-perience just manipulating paint. It was the best damn thing that happened, i t was a real shock treatment. We got into the act of painting. That was our subject matter and that's what we did. I know this is old hat now, but at the time i t was absolutely new and a revelation. It was a wonder-f u l experience, something that helped me loosen up my painting." 32 At the end of August 1950, Smith returned to Vancouver, bring-ing with him a large r o l l of canvases he had done while in San Francisco. These San Francisco works were large, six foot paintings done in a ges-tural, non-figurative style. Smith showed them to the other artists in Vancouver, but there was very l i t t l e reaction to them. No one in Vancouver 33 seemed to appreciate or understand these paintings. Through the F a l l of 1950 and the f i r s t few months of 1951, Smith continued to paint canvases in this same vein, smaller than those done in San Francisco, but s t i l l 3/ much larger than those he had been doing prior to his trip to California. Vertical Abstraction, 59" x 29%", 1950/51 (figure 11) remains as a major statement of Smith's work immediately following the San Fran-cisco experience. The painting shows the unmistakable influence of Clifford S t i l l who had been working in San Francisco just before Smith's v i s i t there, and with whose work Smith had become familiar. The picture surface of Vertical Abstraction i s built up of freely brushed areas of greys and greens, arranged about an underlying rectilinear format. Some-what larger than Melon and Lemon, Vertical Abstraction i s closely related to i t . In i t , Smith had now dropped the need for 'subject matter' and had begun to concern himself solely with the 'background', painting i t in a 53 loose and gestural manner. In the Spring of 1951, Smith turned from this non-figurative style of painting to a style which was more concerned with abstraction. That this happened was the result of a number of factors, the principal one being Smith's own desire to work with an image as the subject matter or starting point of the canvas: "I continued to paint freely and gesturally for a while, but found that I was attracted to some sort of image . . ."34 Several other influences in Vancouver at this time, contributed to this change in Smith's style. These influences included the milieu at the VSA, where Smith was teaching; the cultural climate of Vancouver; the exhibi-tions to be seen at the VAG; as well as the public's support of contem-porary British painting. Smith's own desire for 'an image', together with the influence of these other factors, resulted in an alliance in his work, of the freedom of painterly expression, newly learned in San Francisco, and the imagery of the west coast. 54 FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER 4 1 Vancouver School of Art, Calendar 1946-47. 2 Cf. footnote 9, Chapter 1. 3 Smith taught at the Vancouver School of Art from September 1946 to June 1956. Since September, 1956, Smith has taught in the Art Department of the Faculty of Education, Univer-sity of British Columbia, Vancouver. 4 Working at the VSA in September, 1946 were Scott, Melvin, Amess, Binning, and Shadbolt. Others who were later in the 1940's to join the staff, and to contribute to the painting activities in Vancouver included Bruno and Molly Bobak, Takeo Tanabe, and Don Jarvis. 5 For a detailed study of the cultural resources of Vancouver in 1945, cf. The Junior League of Vancouver. The Arts and Our Town. (Vancouver: The Keystone Press for the Junior League of Vancouver, 1945-1946). This lengthy document, assembled by the members of the Junior League of Van-couver, was the f i r s t attempt made to assess the cultural f a c i l i t i e s in Vancouver and to ascertain, from this mat-e r i a l , what should be the pri o r i t i e s of the city in remedying the situation in order to enhance the growth of the arts in Vancouver. For a brief report of the changes implemented as a result of 'The Arts and Our Town', cf. Moira Sweeney. Community Arts for Vancouver. Artscanada XI (Winter, 1954), p. 62. The Community Arts Council (a direct result of the Junior League report) undertook a series of special projects. The f i r s t two were aimed at f i l l i n g cultural gaps in the city's- a r t i s t i c l i f e : the formation of the Friends of Chamber Music Society, and the Community Children's Theatre . . . Three other major projects followed: 'Arts and Our Town' held in November, 1948 (a month long pre-sentation of plays and concerts); 'Design for Living', in November, 1949 (an exhibition of household arts, from architecture to furniture, which gave artists and crafts-men an opportunity to show their work, and which drew some fourteen thousand people in three weeks); and "The Firs t Symposium of Canadian Contemporary Music' held in May, 1950 . . . the only venture of i t s kind on record in this country (up to 1950). p. 62. 55 6 George Woodcock, "The Dotted Points of Light," Saturday Night, May, 1974, p. 24. 7 Smith, August 29, 1974. Smith noted that in the period 1946-1955, i t was unrealistic to expect to be able to li v e on the proceeds of sales. One was considered successful to have sold three or four paintings per year at the time. 8 The exhibition of the British Columbia Society of Fine Arts was a private show, selected by the members themselves, with a few other artists being invited to participate. The Annual B.C. Artists exhibition was organized by the cur-atorial staff of the VAG. These shows, while comprehen-sive, were not large as the exhibition space at the VAG was, in the forties, limited to the five western galler-ies in the present building. A l l told, there were about three thousand square feet of exhibition space. 9 Smith, August 29, 1974. 10 The lithographic presses were established by Smith in the F a l l of 1950 following his return from San Francisco. Smith, February, 1977. 11 Smith, August 29, 1974. 12 Very few of these works exist, most having been destroyed by the a r t i s t . There are a few silkscreen prints of the late 1940's in the artist's possession which are, in fact, close approximations of paintings done at the same time. The three etchings discussed in the following pages are the remaining works of the period 1946-1948. 13 Smith, July 19, 1974. 14 Ibid. 15 The model for this etching was Smith's wife Marion. This work is one of the few occassions where Smith has treated the human figure as the subject matter of his work. Cf. Anthony Emery, "Artist in Perspective, Gordon Smith," Artscanada XXIII (July, 1966), p. 36. 16 In addition to having seen the School of Paris paintings at the 1939 San Francisco Golden Gate Exposition, Smith had, while taking painting from Shadbolt in 1945-1946, 56 attempted paintings which might be considered generic-a l l y School of Paris. Shadbolt had studied in Paris with Andre Lhote in 1937, and there was a Lhote painting in the collection of the VAG. Smith, July 19, 1974. 17 Anthony Emery, "Artist in Perspective, Gordon Smith," op. c i t . p. 37. 18 Of the works in this exhibition, only Two Totems, i s extant, being in a private collection in Toronto. The remainder have been destroyed by the a r t i s t . The discussion of these works i s based on the evidence of f a i r l y old 35mm. slides which the a r t i s t has, as well as conversations. 19 Lighthouse, Father Point, o i l on canvas, 42" x 50", 1930, c o l l : The National Gallery of Canada. Illustrated in: Peter Mellen, The Group of Seven. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1970), pp. 122-123. Lawren Harris (1885 - ) the theoretician ;of the Group of Seven, moved to Vancouver in 1940. He was soon active and influential at the VAG, being on the exhibition com-mittee as well as the hanging committee. His opinion on the visual arts was sought after and respected. His house became a meeting place for the arts community, where Sat-urday evening 'soirees' were held. Gordon and Marion Smith were often invited to these evenings, at which they had an opportunity to see many of Harris' earlier as well as later paintings. Smith, August 19, 1974. 20 Smith went to Alert Bay on a sketching t r i p in the summer of 1947. Smith, August 29, 1974. 21 For an example of Shadbolt's work in the 1940's which treats social commentary, cf. Evening, Granville Street, in Jack Shadbolt. In Search of Form. (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1968), p. 79. 22 cf. Doris Shadbolt. Emily Carr (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1971). 23 Both Carr paintings are in the collection of the VAG. Zunoqua of the Cat Village, i s illustrated in Dorish Shadbolt, "Emily Carr," op. c i t . p. 59. 24 cf. footnote 18 above. 25 Shadbolt had his students copy paintings of Cezanne. Smith, July, 19, 1974. 57 26 For an indepth study of painting in Canada in the 1930's, cf. Charles C. H i l l , Canadian Painting in the Thirties (Ottawa: The National Gallery of Canada, 1975). 27 Smith's f i r s t house, built mostly by himself, was at 6162 Balaclava Street. Other ar t i s t s who built houses at this time were Jack Shadbolt and Bruno and Molly Bobak. B.C. Binning, while teaching drawing at the VSA was deeply concerned with contemporary architecture, and built the f i r s t house in what was to be later termed 'west coast architecture.' This style of building was characterized by the use of glass, natural wood, and materials, cf. B.C. Binning, "Colour in Architecture," Artscanada (Summer, 1954), p. 4. Hubbard, in his a r t i c l e , "A Climate for the Arts," op. c i t . , mentions several of the young architects and their build-ings in Vancouver. 28 Smith, July 10, 1974. 29 cf. Anthony Emery, "Gordon Smith and the Gesture of Painting," Artscanada, (Autumn, 1956), pp. 2-5. 30 Smith, August 19, 1974. 31 Smith, August 29, 1974. 32 Vancouver Art Gallery, Gordon Smith (Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1976), p. 22. 33 Ibid. 34 Ibid. 35 Smith, August 29, 1974. 57% CHAPTER 5 VANCOUVER 1951 - 1955 58 The setting of Vancouver is romantic, i f not to say sublime: " . . . the natural setting of airy magnificence, the magic f e r t i l i t y of nature in the rain forest, the ever-present mountains forming a backdrop to everything one sees . . . The mountains are always near, and with them the wilds . . ."1 Landscape always remained as a powerful influence for Smith, partly be-cause of his father's early encouragement, to appreciate the landscape of his childhood, and Smith's own exposure to the tradition of nineteenth century British Landscape painters: "Even when I've tried to get away from i t , the landscape usually comes creeping back in . . . that when I have tried to keep my work non-figurative, either landscape, as I say, crept in, or the painting became 'contrived' and sti l t e d and I destroyed i t . " 2 The return to an image after 1950, was also fostered by the lack of en-couragement or, indeed, appreciation of the kind of painting he had learned about in San Francisco and had practised on his return to Van-couver. To understand this situation more fu l l y , one should look at the VSA, the VAG and the prevalent cultural climate of Vancouver, not to men-tion Canada as a whole. As noted previously, the Vancouver School of Art formed the focus of painting ac t i v i t i e s in Vancouver. It was the central place for the exchange of ideas and experiences for the artists teaching there, 3 who formed 'a good proportion of the leading artists in Vancouver'. The senior a r t i s t teaching at the School who was concerned with contem-porary idioms in painting, was Jack Shadbolt, at that time engaged in an expressive form of painting based on abstracted, but recognizeable imagery 59 of seeds and pods. Expansion of Seed , 1949, is a typical example of 4 the work he was doing at the time. An accomplished painter, a forceful and dynamic speaker, and an articulate writer, Shadbolt exerted a strong influence-on the paint-ing concerns of the VSA as a teaching institution."* In 1951, he published a lengthy a r t i c l e in the Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Journal, entitled 'Recent British Columbia Paintings and the Contemporary Tradi-tion'.^ In this a r t i c l e he expressed what he considered to be the com-monly held beliefs of the artists in Vancouver: "The starting (of a work) is the . . . abstract para-phrase of an intense nature mood." 7 "Assuming that he (the artist) is aware of the idiom of abstraction . . . To be aware of this idiomatic translation from nature to the present terms of our abstraction is what makes an a r t i s t philosophically valid for us and from then on his stature depends on his capacity to rehumanize this equation by moving back to nature through i t s (the idiomatic transla-tions) formal restrictions . . ."8 "It seems safe to suggest that the least successful attainments just now (1951) are those of the violent approach." 9 "There seems now to be a preponderant return to na-ture moods as the key area of experience through which one can get back into touch with r e a l i t y . " 10 The belief that advanced painting was most solidly founded on what might be termed the abstraction of natural forms, or the crea-tion of abstract compositions whose genesis could be traced back to the impulse of Cubist compositions, was stated by Charles Comfort. In 1950, he addressed the Massey Commision (The Royal Commission on National Dev-60 elopment in the Arts, Letters, and Sciences): "By far the most stable expression in the visual arts today i s emanating from the United Kingdom . . . the most eclectic and experimental from the United States . . . It would be of great value to Canadian painters and sculptors i f a closer relationship were maintained with the United Kingdom and with France. Such a policy would be in keeping with those sym-pathies and loyalties which are part of our cultural heritage." 11 Comfort was in Vancouver for several months in early 1951, executing a mural for the Toronto Dominion Bank, situated on the northeast corner 12 of Granville and Dunsmuir Streets. At this point, Comfort had the opportunity to express his views to the members of the local art com-munity. The exhibition policy of The Vancouver Art Gallery also sup-ported an interest in abstract, and particularly British abstract paint-ing. From 1948 - 1954, the VAG mounted five major international exhibi-tions, of which three were of Contemporary British painters. The other two were an exhibition of Impressionist paintings, and a travelling ex-hibition of twentieth century European paintings from the collection of 13 the Guggenheim Museum in New York. Of the three British exhibitions, the most significant was 21 Modern British Painters, jointly organized by the British Arts Council and The Vancouver Art Gallery. Included in this exhibition were works by Francis Bacon, Robert Colquhoun, Lucien Freud, Barbara Hepworth, Patrick Heron, Ivon Hitchens, Wyndham Lewis, Henry Moore, Ben Nicholson, John Piper, and Graham Sutherland. The paintings in this exhibition were for sale, and a special effort was made by the Gallery to purchase works from 61 the exhibition for the Permanent Collection. As a general observation, i t appears that the knowledgeable a r t i s t i c community in Vancouver at this time (the early 1950's) had i t s interests directed towards those developments in painting which were em-anating from Great Britain, that i s , a form of abstraction derived from the School of Paris. While artists in Vancouver were getting a f i r s t hand experience of British painting, their knowledge of contemporary art in New York, that art which was to become pre-eminent in the following years, was derived second hand from magazines such as LIFE, which ran articles on artists such as Jackson Pollock.*"5 When an opportunity for f i r s t hand experience of the American paintings they had read about was available, the reaction was muffled. In<•January-February 1953, a major exhibition of contemporary American paintings was shown at the VAG. The exhibition, entitled 'Amer-ican Vanguard for Paris', comprised twenty-five paintings by an equal number of artists including Pollock, Gorky, deKooning, Reinhardt, Hofmann, 16 Motherwell, and Albers. The exhibition, f i r s t shown at the UBC Fine Arts Gallery immediately prior to i t s coming to the VAG, was shown in the cen-tre gallery at The VAG for a l i t t l e more than a week (January 31 - Febru-ary 8, 1953). Whether or not the artists in Vancouver in general, saw the exhibition, i s unknown. Certainly, the artists at the VSA saw the show. Smith remembers i t s impact very well.*'' However, after the exhibition l e f t Vancouver, there was no apparent vi s i b l e reaction to i t . The idea that British art remained the key force in contemporary painting stayed as the dominant idea, while the experiments of the contemporary American (New 62 York) painters were, in the commonly held opinion, 'a flash in the pan 1. The combination of a l l these various factors - Smith's per-sonal preference for painting based on an image; the lack of interest in large scale gestural, non-figurative painting; and the emphasis on the aesthetics of contemporary British painting - resulted in Smith's re-turning after 1951, to a style of painting closely related to the work he was doing prior to his trip to San Francisco. What separates the paint-ings of the early f i f t i e s from those of the late forties i s the centrality which the act of painting assumes. While Smith again employed a recogniz-able image in his canvases, the freedom and excitement of the manipula-tion of the paint per se, which he had experienced in San Francisco, re-mained with him, and i t developed in the early f i f t i e s as the central impulse of his work. From 1951 onwards, Smith returned to the use of familiar sub-ject matter, the landscape, but he now treated i t as the starting off point for an exercise in painting, an exercise in which the act of paint-ing and the accidents that happened in painting, determined the f i n a l outcome of the image. Five paintings have been chosen to trace the dev-elopment of Smith's work, 1952-55 and the growing importance of the 19 'gesture of painting': BARE TREES 1952 WET NIGHT 1953 BURRARD BRIDGE 1954 ORCHARD 1954 STRUCTURE WITH RED SUN 1955 Bare Trees, 33" x 23", 1952 (figure 12) clearly identifies that aspect of painting with which Smith was concerned - the handling of an 63 image in a painterly fashion, which would also respect the two-dimension-a l i t y of the canvas. As an image, the sharp form of the pruned tree, against which one perceives the background, i s closely related to the spikey forms of the British painter Graham Sutherland, an a r t i s t whose 20 work had been widely exhibited in Vancouver: "These (British) paintings were very influential, especially Graham Sutherland - on myself and others." 21 If one separates the image of the tree from the background, what i s l e f t is a close approximation of Smith's earlier Vertical Abstraction, 1950-51 (figure 11) now, in Bare Trees, the contours of the areas of colour have been softened and are less distinct. By incorporating a rich handling of pigment with a recogniz-able subject matter, Smith, in Bare Trees, has also returned to the prob-lem of the foreground and the background and to an awareness of the f l a t surface on which he is working. It is an attempt to have both an indica-tion of depth, as implied by the 'overlapping' of the tree form with the background, and at the same time a recognition of the flatness of the 'space of the canvas', by painting each section of the canvas in such a way as to make one feel that the paint i s as close to the viewer as pos-sible . In terms of the use of an image, a freer handling of paint, and an awareness of the two-dimensional nature of the canvas, Wet Night, 29V x 33", 1953 (figure 13) is a more satisfactory treatment of these concerns than Bare Trees. While the 'tree' image remains, the number of trees has been increased and spread, as an interlocking pattern across 64 large areas of blues and greys. In working with larger areas of colour, Smith also emphasizes the brush work, which becomes more pronounced and freer than that in Wet Night. In Burrard Bridge, 23%" x 33%", 1954 (figure 14) this process of loosening in both the structure of the image and the application of the paint, the beginning of which had been seen in Bare Trees, is taken further. Orchard, 29-3/4" x 33%", 1954 (figure 15) again extends this development in Smith's painting. This latter painting presents a major shift in Smith's palette, the predominant colours now becoming warm greens, browns, yellows and earth reds. While there is an emphasis on recognizeable subject matter, there is also a marked concentration on the free application of paint, most evident in the lower section of the painting, where the trunks of the trees merge with the background. The overall result i s a feeling of spontaneity and 'swing', a sense of ex-uberance and expressiveness. In this work, the general loosening of overall structure is counter-balanced by the rich nature of the pigment. The subject matter has been used as a starting point from which Smith delves into the act of painting, without having a pre-conceived end. This stage of Smith's painting culminates in Structure With Red Sun, 48" x 28", 1955 (figure 16). Against a background of freely painted rectangular shapes of various hues of ochre and blue, Smith has superimposed a network of sweeping arches, reminiscent of a grid pattern. In size and colour, as well as in the abstract patterning of the surface, this work f a l l s within the s t y l i s t i c boundaries of the British painters whose works were prominent at that time. In terms of the handling of the 65 paint and the lack of a prefigured composition, the work belongs with the kind of painting which Smith completed while i n San Francisco and immediately afterwards, 1950-51. A combination of B r i t i s h and American s t y l i s t i c influences, Structure With Red Sun s u c c e s s f u l l y copes with the problem of 'the space of the canvas'. The abstract patterning, a combination of f l a t s p a t i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s , added to the complicated l i n e a r i n t e r l a c i n g s , emphasize the f l a t n e s s of the canvas, while at the same time permitting an e f f e c t -ive i l l u s i o n of depth. Structure With Red Sun, was well received at the F i r s t B i e n n i a l of Canadian Painting held at the National G a l l e r y of Canada, Ottawa, May-June 1955. Jean-Rene Ostiguy, reviewing the e x h i b i t i o n wrote: "Gordon Smith, the winner of the F i r s t B i e n n i a l Award, belongs to the best t r a d i t i o n of non-representational painters. His Structure With Red Sun evinces p l a s t i c q u a l i t i e s , shining with golden tones, reinforced with black ones. Curves and counter curves, horizontals and v e r t i c a l s , p i l e d up i n broad f l a t t i n t s create an e f f e c t i v e i l l u s i o n of depth, i n a way that has nothing to do with v i r t u o s i t y and worn out recipes. In h i s painting, Gordon Smith reveals to us, with f r e s h -ness and spontaneity, the f e e l i n g of the proud play of branches of the l o f t y B r i t i s h Columbia f i r t r e e . " 22 In a l l u d i n g to the intimations, of nature present i n Smith's painting, Ostiguy touched upon a s a l i e n t c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of Smith's work. This c h a r a c t e r i s t i c , c e n t r a l to Smith's painting, was further discussed by Anthony Emery, i n an a r t i c l e about Smith, published i n 1956: "Gordon Smith stays close to the forms and colours of nature. He i s , to borrow a u s e f u l phrase from P a t r i c k Heron, an a b s t r a c t - f i g u r a t i v e , a painter whose work 'the abstract components add up to an oblique statement of landscape or s t i l l l i f e with-out the reference being overt . . .' While ' a b s t r a c t - f i g u r a t i v e ' w i l l serve as a con-venient, i f clumsy, l a b e l to i n d i c a t e the form i n Smith's painting, h i s method of handling the med-ium i s c l o s e l y a l l i e d to that of the expression-i s t s . 'Such painters can l o o s e l y be described as expressionists i n so far as they e x p l o i t the music of forms and colours to c r y s t a l l i z e emotions and f e e l i n g s , but they do not share the anxiety of the out-and-out expressionists to use art as a medium f o r expressing ideas. What r e a l l y obsesses them i s the gesture of painting i t s e l f . " 23 67 FOOTNOTES - CHAPTER 5 1 R.H. Hubbard, "A Climate for the Arts','" op. c i t . pp. 99 - 100. 2 Anthony Emery, "Artist in Perspective: Gordon Smith," Artscanada, XXIII (July, 1966), p. 36. 3 R.H. Hubbard, op. c i t . p. 100. 4 Illustrated, plate 37, Jack Shadbolt, In Search of Form, (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart Ltd., 1968), p. 47. "In Search of Form" i s a lengthy discussion by Shadbolt of the fundamentals of his aesthetics. 5 Smith, August 19, 1974. 6 Jack L. Shadbolt, "Recent Paintings and the Contemporary Tradition," Royal Architecture Institute of Canada Journal, XXXIII (December, 1951), p. 376. 7 Ibid, p. 380. 8 Ibid, p. 377. 9 Ibid, p. 378. One would assume Shadbolt to be referring to the drip paintings of Pollock and the work of the New York Abstract Expressionists. 10 Ibid, p. 379. 11 Dennis Reid, A Concise History of Canadian Painting, (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 1973), p. 240. 12 Cf. Charles Comfort, "Mural In A Bank," Artscanada, IX (Autumn, 1951), p. 19. 13 "Exhibition of Contemporary British Drawings," 1948. "21 Modern British Painters," 1951. "Exhibition of Five Contemporary British Painters," 1952. "French Impressionists," 1953. "The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, A Selection From the Museum Collec-tion," 1954. 14 Purchased for the Permanent Collection of The Vancouver Art Gallery were: Robert Colquhoun 'Two Sisters' 48" x 36V, o i l on canvas Ivon Hitchens 'Moorland Pool* 19V x 32%", o i l on canvas Wyndham Lewis 'Armada' 36" x 28", o i l on canvas Ben Nicholson ' S t i l l L ife' (Russian Ballet) 25V x 16", o i l on canvas 68 15 Smith, August 29, 1974. 16 There i s no record of a l l the works in this exhibition. The American Federation of Arts "Catalogue of Travelling Exhibitions, 1952" reads as follows: "American Vanguard for Paris No. 52-12 . . . It was organized by the Sidney Janis Gallery at the request of the Galerie de France, Paris, and was f i r s t shown in New York in January, 1952. The selection of twenty-five paintings by an equal number of artists was made by Leo Cast e l l i and Sidney Janis. Among the leading avant-garde painters included are Baziotes, de Kooning, Matta, Gorky, Russell, Motherwell, Kline, Hofmann, Albers and Maclver." This exhibition was reviewed by Palette (J. Delisle Parker), op. c i t . See appendix A. 17 Smith, August 19, 1974. 18 Ibid. 19 Cf. Anthony Emery, "Gordon Smith and the Gesture of Painting," op. c i t . 20 Corn and Stone (1945),21" x 20V, chalk and gouache; Thorn and Wall (1946), 16" x 20", o i l on canvas, were exhibited in "21 Modern British Painters", 1951. Cf. catalogue i l l u s t r a -tions 34 and 35? British Council/The Vancouver Art Gallery. 21 Modern British Painters. An Exhibition Organized by The British Council in Conjunction with The Vancouver Art Gallery, 1951. Vancouver, 1951. 21 Smith, quoted in "Gordon Smith," op. c i t . p. 18. 22 Jean-Rene Ostiguy, "The First Biennial of Canadian," op. c i t . p. 159. 23 Anthony Emery, "Gordon Smith and the Gesture of Painting," op. c i t . p. 3. ILLUSTRATIONS 69 F i g u r e 1 P o r t r a i t o f S e a m a n B r o w n , 8-5/8" x 7-1/8", 1943, p e n c i l d r a w i n g , ( o v e r l e a f ) lO 71 Figure 2 P o r t r a i t of Captain A.K. Guest, 8-9/16" x 5-7/8", 1943, p e n c i l drawing, (overleaf) 73 F i g ^ e 3 S t i l l L i f e , 4-7/16" x 7-7/8", 1942, water colour, (overleaf) 74 75 Figure 4 Quebec Barracks, Inverary, Scotland, 6-3/4" x 9-7/8", 1943, water colour, (overleaf) 77 Figure 5 Point Atkinson, 5-11/16 x 7-3/8", 1946, etching, (overleaf) 79 Figure 6 Study, 11-11/16" x 5-5/8", 1946/47, etching, (overleaf) ?0 81 Figure 7 Nature Forms, 10-9/16" x 6-3/4", 1947/48, etching, (overleaf) 83 Figure 8 I n s t a l l a t i o n photograph, 'Cafeteria E x h i b i t i o n ' , Vancouver School of Art, Spring, 1948. (overleaf) 85 Figure 9 S t i l l Life, 5k" x 13V, 1948/49, o i l on panel, (overleaf) 87 Figure 10 Melon and Lemon, 41" x 23", 1949, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) 89 Figure 11 Vertical Abstraction, 59" x 29%", 1950/51, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) 91 Figure 12 Bare Trees, 33" x 23", 1952, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) 93 Figure 13 Wet Night, 29V x 33", 1953, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) 95 Figure 14 Burrard Bridge, 23V x 33V, 1954, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) 97 Figure 15 Orchard, 31%" x 3 5 V , 1954, o i l on masonite. (overleaf) 99 Figure 16 Structure With Red Sun, 40" x 28", 1955, o i l on canvas, (overleaf) \oo 100a BIBLIOGRAPHY 101 A SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 1. Books Brooker, Bertram, ed. Yearbook of the Arts i n Canada, 1936. Toronto: The MacMillan Company of Canada Ltd., 1936. Duval, Paul. Four Decades. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Company Ltd., 1972. Harper, J. R u s s e l l . Painting i n Canada, A History. Toronto: Uni v e r s i t y of Toronto Press, 1966. Hubbard, R.H. The Development of Canadian A r t . Ottawa: Published f o r the Trustees of the National Gallery of Canada, 1963. Kilbourn, E l i z a b e t h . Great Canadian Painting, A Century of Art. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart Ltd., 1966. Lee, Roger. The Theories of Hans Hofmann and Their Influence on His West Coast Canadian Students. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Department of Fine A r t s , A p r i l 1966. Reid, Dennis. A Concise History of Canadian Painting. Toronto: Oxford U n i v e r s i t y Press, 1973. Ross, Malcolm, ed. The Arts i n Canada, A Stock-taking at Mid-Century. Toronto: MacMillan Company of Canada Ltd., 1958. Shadbolt, Doris. "The Vancouver Scene." Canadian Art Today. Edited by William Townsend. London: Studio International,1970. Thorn, William Wylie. The Fine Arts i n Vancouver, 1886-1930: An H i s - t o r i c a l Survey. Unpublished M.A. Thesis, University of B r i t i s h Columbia, A p r i l 1969. 102 Wong, Maureen Lansing. A Study of the Painting of Lawren Ha r r i s . Unpublished M.A. Thesis, The Graduate School of Bowling Green State U n i v e r s i t y , 1974. 2. Catalogues ' The Arts Council of Great B r i t a i n . Paintings and Drawings by Graham Sutherland. London: The Arts Council of Great B r i t a i n , at The Tate Gallery, 1953. B r i t i s h Columbia Society of Fine A r t s . 37th Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, May,1947. 38th Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, May,.1948. 40th Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, A p r i l , 1950. 42nd Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, A p r i l , 1952. 43rd Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, May, 1953. 44th Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, May, 1954. 45th Annual E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, A p r i l , 1955. B r i t i s h i Council. E x h i b i t i o n of Contemporary B r i t i s h Drawings. London, 1948. B r i t i s h Council/The Vancouver Art Gall e r y . 21 Modern B r i t i s h Painters. An E x h i b i t i o n Organized by The B r i t i s h Council i n Con-junction with The Vancouver Art Galle r y , 1951. Vancouver, 1951. B r i t i s h Council. E x h i b i t i o n of Five Contemporary B r i t i s h Painters. An E x h i b i t i o n Organized by The B r i t i s h Council i n Con-junction with The National Gallery of Canada and The Toronto Art Gallery, 1952. Ottawa, 1952. Hubbard, R.H. The National Gallery of Canada Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture: Vol. I l l - The Canadian School. Ottawa and Toronto: Published f o r the Trustees by the Univer-s i t y of Toronto Press, 1960. McNairn, Ian. 10 West Coast Painters. S t r a t f o r d , June, 1960. 7 West Coast Painters. Fine Arts Gallery, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, June, 1959. 103 National Gallery of Canada. First Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Painting. Ottawa, 1955. . Catalogue of the Third Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art. Ottawa, 1959. . Contemporary Canadian Painters. An Exhibition Organ-ized by the National Gallery of Canada for Circulation in Australia. Ottawa, 1957. . L.L. Fitzgerald. 1890-1956, A Memorial Exhibition. Ottawa, 1958. . The Massey Collection of English Painting. Ottawa, 1949. E'ckhardt, "Ferdinand. 150 Years of Art in Manitoba. Winnipeg: Winnipeg Art Gallery, 1970. Fine Arts I.O.D.E. Gallery. 20 Paintings by Jerry Brusberg. Vancouver, 1950. The Vancouver Art Gallery. Fourteenth Annual British Columbia Artists' Exhibition. Vancouver, September, 1945. . Fifteenth British Columbia Artists' Exhibition. Vancouver, .September, 1946. . Sixteenth Annual British Columbia Artists' Exhibition. Vancouver, September, 1947. . Seventeenth Annual B.C. Artists' Exhibition. Vancouver, September, 1948. . Nineteenth Annual British Columbia Artists' Exhibition. Vancouver, November, 1950. . Twenty-Second Annual British Columbia Artists ' Exhibi-tion. Vancouver, September, 1953. . Twenty-Third Annual British Columbia Artists' Exhibi-tion. Vancouver, September, 1954. . Twenty-Fifth Annual British Columbia Artists' Exhibi-tion. Vancouver, September, 1955. . Canadian Art Now. Vancouver, 1949. . Jack Shadbolt. Vancouver, October, 1969. . 200 Years of American Painting. Vancouver, March, 1955. 104 . Souvenir Catalogue, Opening E x h i b i t i o n . Vancouver, October, 1931. Vancouver School of Decorative and Applied A r t s . Prospectus for the Session, 1926-27. Vancouver, 1926. Walker, Doreen E. B.C. Binning: A Retrospective. Fine Arts Gallery, U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, Vancouver, March, 1973. Winnipeg Art Gallery. A New F i t z g e r a l d . Winnipeg, A p r i l , 1963. 3. A r t i c l e s Ayre, Robert. "Lionel Le Moine F i t z g e r a l d 1890-1956," Canadian Art, XIV (Autumn, 1956), 14-16. . "Western Painting Comes to Montreal," Canadian Art, IX (Christmas, 1951), 57-59. Binning, B.C. "Colour i n A r c h i t e c t u r e , " Canadian A r t , XI (Summer, 1954), 141. Boux, Rene. "An A r t i s t Relates His S k i l l s to Arc h i t e c t u r e , " Canadian Art, XIII (Autumn, 1955), 203-205. . "New Directions i n B.C. Pottery," Canadian Art, XI (Spring, 1954), 113. Canadian Art. "Directions i n B r i t i s h Columbia P a i n t i n g , " Canadian Art, V (October/November, 1947), 3-7. _- . "Brusberg Returns to Vancouver and Controversy Rages Over His A r t , " Canadian Art, VIII (Summer, 1951), 175. , . "For A r t i s t s - A Contemporary Home and Studio," Canadian Art, XI (Autumn, 1951), 31. . "Vancouver Paintings Shown i n San Francisco," Canadian Art , X (Winter, 1953), 85. . "Bruno Bobak Does A Mural i n Concrete," Canadian Art, X (Summer, 1953), 164. Coast to Coast i n A r t . "American Vanguard Art Moves from Paris to Vancouver," Canadian A r t , X (Spring, 1953), 123. . "Do You Own a Canadian Painting? ," Canadian Art, X (Autumn, 1952), 37. 105 . " B r a z i l Selects Contemporary Canadian Paintings for Sao Paulo," Canadian Art, XI (Autumn, 1953), 32. . "Grants f o r the Arts i n B r i t i s h Columbia," Canadian Art, XIII (Summer, 1956), 342. . "Sutherland-Moore E x h i b i t i o n i n Vancouver," Canadian Art, XI (Winter, 1954), 77. . "Vancouver Painter Wins International Award," Canadian Art, IX (Summer, 1952), 169. Clover, Guy. "Vancouver A r t i s t s Design f o r the B a l l e t , " Canadian Art, XI (Autumn, 1953), 16-19. Comfort, Charles. "Mural i n a Bank," Canadian Art, XI (Autumn, 1951), 19. Duval, Paul. "Canadian Group E x h i b i t , " Saturday Night, (December, 1947), 21. "The Jack Shadbolt Show," Saturday Night, (May, 1948), Emery, Anthony. "Gordon Smith and the Gesture of Pai n t i n g , " Canadian Art, XIV (Autumn, 1956), 3-5. . "Gordon Smith," Canadian Art, XXIII (July, 1966), 36-37. Harris, Lawren. "The Function of an Art G a l l e r y , " The Vancouver Art Gal l e r y B u l l e t i n , (October, 1942), n.p. Hubbard, R.H. "A Climate f o r the A r t s , " Canadian Art, XII (Spring, 1955), 99-105. Hughes, E.J. "My Impressions When Viewing Nature," Canadian Art, XIII (Summer, 1956), 314. "Jay" "O.C.A. Instructs Talented Young Canadians i n . . . Painting, Sculpture, Design and Graphic A r t s , " Satur- day Night, (February, 1942), 4. Korner, John. "A New Consciousness of Form," Canadian Art, XI (Summer, 1954), 130-133. . "A Re-Union of Painting and Ar c h i t e c t u r e , " Canadian Art, XII (Spring, 1955), 106. Lowndes, Joan. "Smith Returns to Coastal Landscape," Vancouver Sun, (March, 1973), 42. 106 . "Gordon Smith: A New Perspective," Artscanada, XXX (August, 1975), 60. MacAgy, Douglas. "The Contemporary Art School," Arts and Architecture, LXV (November, 1948), 24-25. . "Fine and Commercial Arts Re-Defined," College Art Journal, IX (Summer, 1950), 406-411. Mclnnes, Graham. "Anxiety Over Canadian A r t , " Saturday Night, (March, 1941), 28. McLean's Magazine. "What B.C. Means to 9 of I t s Best A r t i s t s , " McLean's Magazine, (May, 1958), 27-33. Metcalfe, Ben. "Gordon Smith at the New Design Galle r y , Vancouver," Canadian Art, XIX (March/April, 1962), 109. Ostiguy, Jean-Rene. "The F i r s t B i e n n i a l of Canadian Pain t i n g , " Canadian Art, XII (Summer, 1955), 158-160. Parker, J . D e l i s l e . " C i t y A r t i s t Sketches on the I t a l i a n Front," The Province, ' A p r i l 29, 1944 , magazine section, 3. -.(Palette). "One Man Display," The Province, June 11, 1947-, 17. de Roussan, Jacques. "Les Peintres de l a Colombie Britannique et Leur Environnement," Vie des Arts, no. 44^(Autumn, 1966), 76-84. Scott, C h a r l e s H . "Jack Shadbolt," Canadian -Art, III'(March/April, 1946), 97-99. . \ Shadbolt, Doris. "The Drawings of B.C. Binning," Canadian Art, III (March/April, 1946) 95-96. . "Molly and Bruno Bobak," Canadian A r t , IX (Spring, 1952), 122-126. . "Ed Hughes - Painter of the West Coast," Canadian Art, X (Spring, 1953), 100-103. . "New L i f e to Graphic Arts on the West Coast," Canadian Art, XII (Winter, 1955), 76-7. . "Joe Plaskett - An Ode to a Room," Canadian Art, XIII (Summer, 1956), 315-319. 107 Shadbolt, Jack L. "A Report on Art Today in British Columbia," Canadian Art, IV (November/December, 1946), 4. . "Recent British Columbia Paintings and the Contemporary Tradition," Royal Architectural Institute of Canada Journal, XXVIII (December, 1951), 376. Stone, Henry A. "Notes on the Founding of the Vancouver Art Gallery," The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, IX (October, 1941) n.p. Sweeny, Moira. "Community Arts for Vancouver," Canadian Art, XI (Winter, 1954) 62. The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin. "Lectures by Douglas MacAgy," The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, XVI (April, 1949) 4 . "Do You Own A Canadian Picture," The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, XVI (September, 1948) n.p. "The Sixteenth Annual Contemporary Exhibition And Sale, The Vancouver Art Gallery Bulletin, XXXI (September, 1964) n.p. The Vancouver Art Gallery Association. "The Women's Auxiliary," The Vancouver Art Gallery Annual Report 1965. The Vancouver Sun. Abstract Painting Like 'Listening to Music'. May 4, 1956. p. 8. Watmough, David. "How It Is To Be A Painter," The Vancouver Sun, October 28, 1966. p. 6B. Woodcock, George. "The Dotted Points of Light," Saturday Night, May, 1974, p. 21. . One Man Exhibitions Fine Arts Gallery. Ten Years Of Painting By Gordon Smith. Vancouver, October, 1966. The Vancouver Art Gallery. Gordon Smith. Vancouver, April, 1976. 107a j APPENDIX A 108 Appendix A. SHOW AT GALLERY, SENSATIONAL By Palette Vancouver has seen some strange and perplexing d i s p l a y s of "modern a r t " but these were c h i e f l y mild a f f a i r s compared to the American Vanguard e x h i b i t i o n now at the Galle r y . This most sensational of Gallery shows, with i t s 25 large o i l paintings by prominent American a r t i s t s of extreme modern tendencies, was o r i g i n -a l l y organized f o r d i s p l a y i n Paris and i s now being c i r c u l a t e d on t h i s continent by the Amer-ican Federation of Arts. The e x h i b i t i o n w i l l l a s t u n t i l Feb. 8. The c o l l e c t i o n was recently displayed at UBC art g a l l e r y , but the ex h i b i t s show to better advantage i n the more spacious auditorium of the Galler y . Many of the pictures are strong to the point of violence i n e f f e c t and need to be seen at a distance, thus enabling the v i s i t o r to un-derstand better and appreciate each paintings as a whole. In any case, those unprepared for extreme dev-elopments i n paintings are apt to receive some-thing of a shock on f i r s t entering the auditorium. It i s well known how every departure from accepted a r t during the past century has met with opposi-t i o n . Since the beginning of the present century these changes have come about r a p i d l y and d r a s t i c -a l l y i n a manner unparalleled i n h i s t o r y . The present e x h i b i t i o n r e f l e c t s another, the l a t e s t , upheaval, that seems to be world-wide. Naturally a show of t h i s order presenting unfam-i l i a r ways of presenting the a r t i s t ' s thoughts and emotions on canvas with p r a c t i c a l l y t o t a l disregard of na t u r a l appearances, and doing so with a dynamic energy unseen before, i s going to s t i r up considerable controversy. I t i s no easy matter f o r the average observer to put aside preconceived notions and regard f o r t r a d i t i o n a l representational a r t . On the other hand i t has been observed since opening of the g a l l e r y display, and also previously at the u n i -v e r s i t y , that quite a few people, p a r t i c u l a r l y among the younger generation, are much i n t e r -ested i n t h i s type of a r t , which w i l l probably have pronounced influence on painting of the future. In s p i t e of the f i r s t sensational impact, to state that the main purpose of these painters was a sensational one i s obviously i n c o r r e c t , i n view of t h e i r high p r o f e s s i o n a l standing and past record as serious a r t i s t s . Among exhibitors are names such as Jackson Pollack, A r s h i l e Gorky, W. DeKooning, Adolph G o t t l i e b , G. Cavallon, J. Albers, A. Reinhardt, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, A Matta and Mark Tobey of Seattle. Their work va r i e s considerably, with the un-compromisingly abstract predominating. D i f f e r -ing from great majority of exh i b i t s of highly subjective nature are Lavey River's "Woman with Cat," with some f a i r l y recognizable ob-j e c t s , and Gorky's "Table Landscape" and William Baziotes' "Woman and B i r d " with f a i n t suggestion of de r i v a t i o n from nature. Adolph G o t t l i e b ' s large abstract "Figuration of Clangor," i n i t s harmony and balance of yellow and black with small black l i n e s danc-ing here and there throughout the composition, holds well i n the c e n t r a l place on the end wa l l . At i t s side i s Albert Russell's long polychromatic fantasy, "The Orange Li n e . " These paintings of the Vanguard w i l l no doubt appeal to many attending the midday concerts at the Galle r y . The music and the abstract paintings seem to go together remarkably w e l l . - Parker, J . D e l i s l e . "Show at Gallery, Sensational, The Province, January 31, 1953, p. 4.
UBC Theses and Dissertations
Gordon Smith : a study of the artist’s life and career from 1919 to 1955 Malkin, Peter Grundy 1977
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