A History of Art In Alberta 1905-1970

(Excerpt from p. 1)

In the mid to late 1920s, in isolated Alberta, two lonely pioneer modernists, Maxwell Bates (1906 - 1980) and William Leroy Stevenson (1905 – 1966) - with only themselves for support - paradoxically pursued Expressionism, one of the major international art movements of the twentieth century. That form of art provided an outlet for Bates’s and Stevenson's ideas and emotions through highly expressive lines and contours, distorted forms, flattening of perspectives and bold colours. Their remarkable record of achievements despite adversities bespeaks of Alberta’s culture trying to take root. Their legacy, although almost completely eclipsed, forms the foundation for Alberta's modern art today.

(Excerpt from pp. 273-4)

The first and second generation of Alberta artists, whose works span from 1905 to 1970, laid a solid foundation for the province's contemporary visual arts. Maxwell Bates and Roy Stevenson, as the founders of modern art in Alberta, who necessarily pursued self-expression, artist's subjectivity and Expressionism in the 1920s, began the cultural awakening process. Henry Glyde created allegorical, figurative art, often with a biblical and Alberta reference, which was unique in Canada, in the 1930s and 1940s. Walter Phillips achieved astonishing tone-gradations and beauty in understatement, especially in his colour woodcuts. A. C. Leighton subtly evoked Alberta’s southwest foothills in fluid tonal watercolours of the 1950s and early 1960s. For over eight decades, Euphemia McNaught painted meaningful images of the Peace River country (another aspect of Canada's True North) strong in structure and form. Illingworth Kerr created a profound sense of Alberta’s foothills and his beloved prairie space, using abstraction, broken colour, impasto and pattern within modernism. Marion Nicoll presented her universalized metaphor of Alberta's weather, months and seasons...

Alberta was indeed a centre of artmaking. The aspirations of Alberta’s pioneers... had been firmly realized. They could take pride in the power, capacity and infinite promise of art in Alberta which Dr. W. G. Carpenter had identified, during this first cycle beginning with the province's birth in 1905, as being "an artists' paradise."