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The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

Exhibition Dates

July 1 – September 18, 2016



June 6 Members
June 17 Public


June 22, 2016
Steve Martin in conversation with Andrew Hunter

June 24, 2016
Cynthia Burlingham on Lawren Harris

July 15, 2016
Andrew Hunter on Harris and The Ward


August 31 – September 10, 2016
The National Ballet of Canada: The Dreamers Ever Leave You



The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

A founding member of the Group of Seven and a major figure in the history of twentieth-century Canadian art, Lawren Harris (1885-1970) remains largely unknown in the United States. This year the AGO is partnering with the Hammer Museum to introduce Harris’s iconic landscapes to audiences in Los Angeles and Boston. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris will be the first major solo exhibition of his work to be shown in the United States, and will arrive in Toronto in July of 2016.

The exhibition is curated by comedian, musician, actor and writer Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director, Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum, and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art at the AGO.

The core of the exhibition features more than 30 of Harris’ most significant and rare northern landscapes from the 1920s and 1930s, drawn from major public and private collections across Canada including the AGO, the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art at the AGO, the National Gallery of Canada and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

The AGO’s installation offers an expanded experience, curated by Hunter. It opens with a selection of Harris’ early paintings from the 1910s, many of which depict the complex and culturally diverse Ward neighbourhood in Toronto, where the artist spent his formative years. Visitors will then experience the core of the exhibition, followed by a special epilogue that explores the influence of Harris’ landscapes on Canadian identity (“the idea of north”) in relation to the city. The impact of Harris’ art and legacy can be seen through historical photogaphs by Arthur Goss in addition to the works of several contemporary Canadian artists including Nina Bunjevac, Jennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, Tin Can Forest and Anique Jordan. Combined with the core exhibition, this enhanced presentation of The Idea of North features over 80 works in total.

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris is time-ticketed. AGO Members will be offered free admission and exclusive previews in the days leading up to the exhibition's public opening.

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris
Steve Martin (Author), Cynthia Burlingham (Author), Andrew Hunter (Author), Karen Quinn (Author)
Hardcover 160 pages
27.2 x 24.6 x 2.5 cm

Buy the Catalogue

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris is co-organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hammer Museum and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario.

Lead Sponsor

Generously supported by

  • E. & G. Odette Foundation
  • The Donald R. Sobey Family Foundation
  • Anonymous
  • heffel logo

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