ARTHUR LISMER, O.S.A., R.C.A.
oil on board
inscribed on the reverse “Class demonstration by Dr. Lismer at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts”
16 ins x 12 ins; 40.6 cms x 30.5 cms
During his time at Art Association of Montreal, now the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Lismer introduced the series “Artists in Action.” As the title suggests, the invited artists were asked to create a work of art in the span of a single session, as audiences - ranging from children and high school students to professional artists and white-collar workers - closely observed them.
To sculptor Stanley Lewis, one of the many prominent artists who took part in the project, Lismer’s purpose was to “demystify the idea of creativity… he wanted to show the process of creativity.”
Lismer himself participated in the series in November 1963, painting three artworks during the session, including this lot. Captivated by Lismer’s energy, a reporter described the artist as flying towards the painting with a brush and a palette knife, bringing to life “a forest scene in brilliant blues, greens, and yellows.”
“Artists in Action,” is a quintessential example of Lismer’s innovative teaching philosophy and views on art and art institutions. To specialist Angela Nairne Grigor, the series reflects the painter’s “ongoing concern to involve the general public in art experiences and a clear reminder to those who might have forgotten that the main purpose of a museum was to educate.”
This lot is being sold together with a copy of a letter from the original owner describing its provenance.
Lewis, interview with author, 7 March 1988, quoted in Angela Nairne Grigor, Arthur Lismer: Visionary art Educator, McGill University Press, Montreal, 2002, page 203.
Angela Nairne Grigor, Arthur Lismer: Visionary art Educator, McGill University Press, Montreal, 2002, page 204.
Gift of the artist
Private Collection, Toronto (by descent)