150 years of Canadian ArtA linked open data project

Eastern Group of Painters

Eastern Group of Painters

Date Established: 1938
Date Terminated: 1939
Members:
Bercovitch, Alexandre member 1938 - 1939
Goldberg, Eric member 1938 - 1939
Humphrey, Jack member 1938 - 1939
Lyman, John member 1938 - 1939
Roberts, Goodridge member 1938 - 1939
Smith, Jori member 1938 - 1939
Field of Activity: Arts (Discipline)

The Eastern Group of Painters was founded in Montréal, Québec in 1938. This Canadian artist collective was comprised of seven Montréal artists who shared the philosophy of “art for art’s sake.” This philosophy maintains that the true value of art is separate from didactic, moral, or utilitarian functions; art is viewed as “complete in itself.” This was in reaction to the nationalist focus of other artist groups such as the Group of Seven or the Canadian Group of Painters. Not only did the Eastern Group of Painters believe in “art for art’s sake,” they were part of a growing rejection in the late 1930s of the notion that a group of artists such as the Group of Seven, who were based largely in Ontario, could claim to represent a “national vision” in their art. Artists, notably those in Québec, felt ignored and excluded. John Goodwin Lyman recognized that artists working in Montréal received little notice and no support from public institutions; as a response, he brought seven artists together to form the Eastern Group of Painters. These seven artists were Alexander Bercovitch (1891–1951), Goodridge Roberts (1904–1974), Eric Goldberg (1890–1969), Jack Weldon Humphrey (1901–1967), John Goodwin Lyman (1886–1967), and Jori Smith (1907–2005). Jori Smith was the only female member, and was a key figure in initiating Canada’s modernist art movement in the 1930s. In 1939, Jack Humphrey was replaced by Philip Surrey (1910–1990). Lyman claimed that what distinguished Eastern artists was their openness to European influence. From 1936 to 1940, Lyman wrote a monthly art column in The Montrealer where he wrote about international trends in art and linked those to developments in Canadian art. This stimulated an interest, particularly in Montréal, in European styles of painting. As need grew to further the cause of modern art and to incorporate more artists experimenting with different trends, it became apparent that a larger society was needed. In 1939, the Contemporary Arts Society was formed, evolving out of the Eastern Group of Painters. Lyman descripted the Contemporary Arts Society as an “anti-academy,” emphasizing quality over conventionality in art.

Date modified: