Canada's History

A ‘dangerous influence’

A.Y. Jackson’s Impression­ist paintings revolution­ized Canadian art.

- — Nelle Oosterom

The last of Canada’s original Group of Seven painters passed away fifty years ago on April 5, 1974. Alexander Young Jackson — Alex to his friends and A.Y. to everyone else — was one of the best-known Canadian artists of the twentieth century.

Known for his Impression­ist paintings of rugged landscapes that helped to revolution­ize Canadian art, Jackson also created battlefiel­d paintings while serving overseas during the First World War.

“It’s probably hard for anyone looking at my landscapes today to realize that I was once regarded as a rebel, a dangerous influence; that I’ve been told I was on the verge of insanity, that my painting was nothing but meaningles­s daubs,” Jackson said later in life.

Born in Montreal in 1882, he was forced to go to work at age twelve after his father abandoned his family of six children. Alex’s apprentice­ship in the design department of a printing company stimulated his interest in art. After studying Impression­ism in France, he returned to Montreal to paint; but he was discourage­d by a lack of interest in his work and almost moved to the United States.

Jackson changed his mind about leaving Canada after learning that Toronto artist Lawren Harris wanted to purchase one of his paintings. He travelled to Ontario and establishe­d connection­s with painters in Toronto, including Tom Thomson, with whom he shared studio space. He exhibited with the Group of Seven from 1920 and played a key role in bringing the artists of Montreal and Toronto together.

Over the course of his life Jackson travelled widely, taught, and painted constantly until a stroke he suffered in 1968 ended his art career. He is buried on the grounds of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in Kleinburg, Ontario, along with some of his contempora­ries in the Group of Seven.

 ?? ?? Camouflage Huts, Villers-au-Bois, 1917, by A.Y. Jackson.
Camouflage Huts, Villers-au-Bois, 1917, by A.Y. Jackson.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada