Marian Scott

"If the liberation of man is the chief aim of action, the function of the creator is as essential as that of the politician or the economist. The creator liberates with the instrument of the word, the plastic organization, the rhythmic composition. His revolution aims at a complete metamorphosis of the world."
(Marian Scott, 1936)

Marian Dale Scott was a painter, muralist, draughtswoman and commercial artist whose seventy-year career closely mirrors the evolution of modern art in Quebec. As a young artist emerging in the 1930s, she rejected nationalist trends in favour of internationalist movements, exploring varied subjects, from landscapes, urban scenes, and the human figure, to botanical forms, the cellular world, and geometric abstraction. She experimented with different styles, from a rigourous approach that stressed structure and organization, to spontaneous, gestural work.

In 1917, when she was only eleven, Marian Dale began taking classes under William Brymner and Alberta Cleland at the Art Association of Montreal, and by the following year, was already exhibiting her work. She spent three years at the École des Beaux-Arts, and the Monument National, under Edmond Dyonnet at both schools. She then attended London's Slade School of Art for seven months, studying under Henry Tonks. Upon returning to Montreal in 1927, she resumed her painting, and the following year, married Frank Scott, a law professor, poet and future founder of the League for Social Reconstruction. It was in 1936 that Marian Scott joined forces with Norman Bethune and the painter Fritz Brandtner to teach at their newly established Children's Art Centre for the underprivileged. She later took on other teaching positions at St. George's School, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, with Arthur Lismer, and at Macdonald College outside Montreal.

Scott's earliest works were strongly geometrical landscapes influenced by the Group of Seven. By the mid-1930s, she was already experimenting with a range of subjects in a simplified, modernist style. Her botanical studies were inspired by the work of Georgia O'Keeffe, and her stylized linear figure work, by Modigliani. With her growing interest in social concerns, she turned to scenes of human interaction, as in Park (c.1936-1940), as well as semi-abstract interpretations of the urban and industrial world. In 1941, Scott was commissioned to create a mural for the McGill University Faculty of Medicine. The resulting work on microscopic forms inspired further explorations of the cellular world, including Variations on a Theme: Cell and Fossil, No. 6 (1946). She subsequently moved towards increased abstraction, experimenting with action painting in the early 1960s, before moving into highly geometrical works, such as Artifact (1970).

Marian Scott was a founding member of the Contemporary Arts Society, and a member of the Federation of Canadian Artists, Canadian Group of Painters, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts and Conseil de la Peinture du Québec. She was honoured with the Thomas More Institute's Purchase Award (1967) and the Ontario Society of Artists' Baxter Purchase Award (1969).

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