Lowrie Warrener, Canadian Treasure–Eh?

THE DAILY PIC: An unknown Cannuck went down the road to abstraction.


I spotted this 1926 painting by Lowrie Warrener, called Contrasts, Northern Ontario, during a recent visit to the Confederation Centre Art Gallery in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. (That’s in Canada, for those of you who don’t know what country your mussels come from.) I spent a number of years as an art critic in Toronto and never even heard Warrener’s name. It turns out he was born in Sarnia, in western Ontario, in 1900, and came east to Toronto in 1920 to go to art school, then left the Big Potato to spend a couple of years studying in Europe. He always seems to get described as a follower of the Group of Seven, Canada’s first official avant-garde–which had just gelled when Warrener hit his stride–but this painting seems to declare him a notable talent in his own right, more willing to head out onto the limb of abstraction that most of the G7 were. Seems a shame that, in about 1930, he mostly gave up fine art to concentrate on theater design. I wonder if his sets were as gorgeously painted as this little picture. (Click on my image to see it in close-up)

For a full survey of past Daily Pics visit blakegopnik.com/archive.

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