Teacher’s Glossary

abstraction: the move toward simplified forms and expressive colours, in segments of Western art from the early twentieth century onward.

avant-garde: experimental or progressive. The word is a French term that originally referred to the front lines of armed forces during battle, and since the early twentieth century has described artists that seek to defy existing practices and traditions.

British landscape tradition / nineteenth-century British watercolour tradition: the practice among British painters of producing small paintings of the natural world, usually from a viewpoint that underscores the majesty of the land.

colour: can be described in three ways: hue, the name of the colour; value, the lightness or darkness of the colour; intensity, the brightness or dullness of the colour. In a work of art, colour can serve to attract the viewer’s attention, suggest emotion and mood, create space, contrast and texture, and suggest symbolic meaning.

Cubism: a style of painting initiated in about 1908 by Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso, in which an artist represents a subject from multiple angles, using simplified geometric forms.

Fauvism: a style of painting that developed in France in the late 1890s, characterized by the use of such unexpected and vibrant colours that in 1905, an art critic labelled its practitioners—among them Henri Matisse and André Derain—les fauves, or “wild beasts.”

First Nations: the indigenous and Native peoples of Canada.

form: the structure of a work of art, or the defined shapes within a painting or sculpture. A form can be geometric or organic, open or closed.

Futurism: a literary and artistic movement founded by the Italian poet Filippo Thommaso Marinetti. Futurism called for the destruction of existing social structures and embraced technology as the way to a more egalitarian existence.

German Expressionists: a group of artists, architects and writers who sought to address the anxieties of modern life through their work. Most pronounced in the years immediately before the First World War, German Expressionism is closely tied to primitivism.

Governor General’s Literary Award: the highest literary honour in Canada, first awarded in 1937.

Group of Seven: a collective of seven Ontario painters who worked toward a unique way to paint the Canadian landscape. The group began painting together in around 1912 and held their first public exhibition in 1920.

Harris, Lawren: Canadian painter (1885–1970), a founding member of the Group of Seven. Often seen as the intellectual and spiritual leader of the Group, Harris became a close friend and mentor to Emily Carr after the two met in 1927. It was Harris who introduced Carr to theosophy and encouraged her to paint the landscape.

Impressionism: late-nineteenth-century art movement in which painters tried to capture a sense of light and movement through small, unblended dabs of paint that were applied quickly to the canvas.

landscape: artwork that takes the natural world as its subject, although other elements can also be present. In Western art, landscape paintings became associated with nationalistic goals during the nineteenth century.

line: in a work of art, a mark made to draw attention to different parts of a composition. Lines also enclose or delineate forms, and create texture, rhythm and a sense of motion.

medium: the physical material that an artist uses in producing his or her work.

Modern: a term used to describe artwork, thinking and other activities that value new ideas and approaches, and a sense of progress. In art, it refers to Western art produced after European industrialization (late nineteenth century), made by artists who seek to use new materials and new forms and to espouse new ideas.

perspective: the illusion of depth in a two-dimensional work of art. Perspective can also mean a point of view, either of a particular subject or the world at large.

Post-Impressionism: a style of artwork that followed Impressionism. Practitioners of this style discarded a concern with light and nature in favour of exploring geometric form and symbolic content.

Salon d’Automne: an exhibition event founded in 1903 in opposition to the official Paris Salon. It offered modern artists an annual forum to show their work.

sketch: a preliminary composition, used as a tool for planning a larger and more complicated work of art, and usually executed quickly. Emily Carr often sketched a subject on site and later worked that sketch into a painting in her studio.

still life: a work of art that features an arrangement of flowers, fruit and/or a variety of other consumable or inanimate objects, usually set indoors. Still life was a popular painting genre in Europe from the beginning of the seventeenth century.

style: the mode or manner in which an artist generally works. The term can also refer to a particular period in an artist’s career.

subject: the person or thing that an artist selects as the focus of a composition. In Western art, until the twentieth century, historical subjects were considered much more worthy subjects for artwork than landscapes and still life.

symbol: an object, image or text that represents something other than itself, particularly an abstract idea.

theosophy: a late nineteenth-century philosophical movement that combines a variety of belief systems to seek an underlying universal harmony. In art, the use of geometrical forms was seen to exemplify this harmony in its purest form.

Tobey, Mark: American painter (1890–1976) who met Emily Carr in Seattle, where he taught painting. A practitioner of Cubism, Tobey also taught in Victoria in 1928 and had a considerable influence on Carr’s work.