National Gallery of Canada / Musée des beaux-arts du Canada

Bulletin 5 (III:1), 1965

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Marc-Aurèle Fortin and 
the Bouse in Canadian Painting

by Jean-René Ostiguy

Article en français

Page 1

In this article Mr Ostiguy discusses the treatment of the house as an important element in the composition of Canadian landscape painting. In the work of Fortin, the Quebec artist, the landscapes are almost entirely dominated by the theme of the house.

Of 108 works listed in the catalogue of the retrospective exhibition of paintings by Fortin, organized by the National Gallery in 1963, sixty-three paintings use the house as subject matter. Fortin's contribution to Canadian painting rests largely on the works paying homage to houses, dwelling places interpreted in a warm and poetic manner. Houses painted by Morrice or Leduc are filled with human beings, living, thinking, and acting. There are lights from the windows and smoke from the chimneys. Such is not the case in Fortin's landscapes: in his paintings it is the house itself which occupies and dominates the picture plane.

Though at first he borrowed from Cullen, Fortin is imaginative and inventive. A certain fauvism is apparent - a quality which has been prevalent throughout his career. The work of Fortin merits respect; it compares favourably to that of many others, it is of minor reputation perhaps, but nevertheless appreciated.

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