________________ CM . . . . Volume VI Number 15 . . . . March 31, 2000

cover Meet the Group of Seven.

David Wistow and Kelley McKinley. The Art Gallery of Ontario.
Toronto, ON: Kids Can Press, 1999.
48 pp., cloth, $16.95.
ISBN 1-55074-494-1.

Subject Heading:
Group of Seven (Group of artists)-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-8 / Ages 9-13.
Review by Harriet Zaidman.

**** /4

image I heard in passing once that the Group of Seven had been overexposed. But can there ever be too much discussion and exposure of beautiful art that captures the vibrant colour and the beauty of the Canadian landscape? As an undisguised Group of Seven fan, I think there can never be enough. Although many of the scenes the Group of Seven painted have now been touched by civilization, their work represents the spirit of Canada and stands out as a unique and preeminent school of art. It is a national shame that the names of the Group are not known by every school child, nor are their works appreciated at an early enough age through the school system.

Meet the Group of Seven is a wonderful reference tool that informs children about the Group of Seven as individuals and as a collective and shows painting after painting after painting. It is well organized by topic, covering background information on each of the members, discussing their method of painting, how it differed from other schools of art, opinions about them, Tom Thomson, other artists, etc. Photographs of the Group members at work and the times in which they lived are also sprinkled throughout, as are reproductions. Interesting inclusions are photographs of the scenes represented in paintings, and they are remarkably similar.

The layout of the pages resembles the "Eyewitness" series style of presentation. A great deal of interesting information about the painters is available to the reader. An adult will also learn much about the painters personally and their work. Their method of work was groundbreaking in an artistic world that was used to completing pencil sketches and returning to the studio to add colour. Instead, the Group held the view that capturing the colour at the moment was of prime importance, and they trudged into the wilderness carrying oils and brushes to create inconvenient, small, wet, canvasses that were later translated into a larger format. They used bold brush strokes to express the shape and movement of the wilderness in defiance of the previously unchallenged style of exact reproduction. Their role in the history of art and the history of the nation is both explained in words and in comparative art examples.

The authors, both of whom work or have worked for the Art Gallery of Ontario, have done a good job of creating easily understandable explanations of the art for children of school age. "MacDonald also shows you the powerful forces of nature by emphasizing the patterns in nature. See how he simplifies the shapes of the hills and trees into circles and triangles? Then he uses dark colours to outline these shapes and make them look strong and bold."(p.9)

Meet the Group of Seven is a must-have for every school library and a fine book to give as a present. It will provide hours and hours of enjoyment and education that will last a lifetime. Teachers will find this a useful instructional tool for an art unit.

Highly Recommended.

Harriet Zaidman, a teacher-librarian in Winnipeg, MB., has marvelled at the beautiful Group of Seven collections at the McMichael Collection in Kleinburg, ON, and the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto. She has several Group of Seven reproductions hanging on her walls.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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Published by
The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364