Roberts Gallery Blog
Idea of North
Roberts Gallery Blog

Lawren Harris Cheat Sheet

With Lawren Harris: The Idea of North now open at the AGO, we thought we would put together a list of important dates in the life of Lawren Harris to help you navigate the exhibition:

  • 1885 – Born October 23 in Brantford, ON, the first of two sons to the wealthy Harris (of Massey-Harris farm implements) family.
  • 1904-1908 – On the suggestion of his math professor at St. Andrews College at the University of Toronto, Harris traveled to Berlin to study art. Is introduced there to the concepts of Theosophy.
  • c.1907 – Briefly holds commercial artist position for Harpers. His one formal job.
  • c.1910 – Begins painting urban scenes in the Ward district in Toronto, home to many recently arrived immigrants.
  • 1911 – Meets J.E.H. MacDonald at MacDonald’s exhibition of small paintings at the Arts and Letter’s Club in Toronto.
  • c.1911 – He and MacDonald travel to the Albright Gallery in Buffalo to see an exhibition of landscapes by Scandinavian painters. It was to be very influential to their style and concepts.
  • 1913 – Invites A.Y. Jackson to Toronto. He and Jackson share a studio space at the northwest corner of Yonge and Bloor.
  • 1914 – With Dr. James McCallum, finances the construction of the Studio Building which would provide living and working space for artists like Jackson and Tom Thomson.
  • 1916 – Enlists in the Canadian Army, purchasing an officer’s rank, which was common in the British military among the upper classes.
  • 1918 – His brother dies in action in WW1. Harris suffers a nervous breakdown and is discharged from the army.
  • 1918-1919 – Organizes and finances painting trips via boxcar to the Algoma region of Ontario.
  • 1920 – First Group of Seven exhibition. Held at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the AGO).
  • 1920 – Discovers the North Shore of Lake Superior and it becomes important subject matter for his paintings. A more minimal and abstracted style begins to form in his work.
  • 1924 – First trips to the Rocky Mountains. His style continues to move further towards simplicity and abstraction.
  • 1930 – Extended trip to the Arctic with A.Y. Jackson. The works relating to this trip mark the end of the landscape period of his work.
  • 1932 – Group of Seven disbands following the death of J.E.H. MacDonald.
  • 1933 – Forms the Canadian Group of Painters.
  • 1934 – Becomes artist-in-residence at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. Abstract period begins influenced by Kandinsky’s CONCERNING THE SPIRITUAL IN ART.
  • 1938 – Moves to Santa Fe, New Mexico and with other artists forms the Transcendentalist Painters Group.
  • 1940 – Moves to Vancouver, BC.
  • 1948 – Retrospective held at the Art Gallery of Toronto.
  • 1969 – Receives the Order of Canada.
  • 1970 – Dies on January 29 in Vancouver.