Abstract Sketch, 1936
Lawren S. Harris
oil on beaverboard
37.9 x 30.2 cm
National Gallery of Canada (no. 17614)
The vertical forms seen in Lawren Harris's "Abstract Sketch" reference elements of the landscape - trees, rocky cliffs, and thrusting mountain peaks - yet they also mark a significant shift in his work, from an emphasis on the organic forms of the land to what appear to be the architectonic forms of the built environment. The colour palette, with its deep brown hues, ties the work to the earth while the bright whites clearly relate to the sense of Northern purity captured in Harris's Arctic works. This composition of totemic forms and subdued palette also recalls Emily Carr's dense forest views of the early 1930s. Harris met Carr in 1927, and the two subsequently formed a close, enduring friendship.