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via crucis

Fred Hagan’s City Series

October 6, 2001 to January 13, 2002

via crucis

Frederick Hagan (Canadian, 1918-)
Curb Talking, from the "City" Series, 1940
pen and black ink on wove paper
25.5 x 19.2 cm
Gift of Frederick Hagan, 2000
© 2001 Art Gallery of Ontario


Fred Hagan’s City Series illustrates the lonely wanderings of a young man, troubled by the reality of social injustice. The young man is Hagan himself, a Toronto-born artist who made his artistic debut in the early years of World War Two. The sequence of twenty-four drawings depicting his pilgrimage through the streets of wartime Toronto reads as a twentieth-century version of via crucis (way of the Cross), a devotional exercise of spiritual revelation.

In 1940, the twenty-two year old Hagan cast himself as the struggling young artist of the modern city, in search of beauty in an inhospitable climate. The artist emerges as a Christ-like figure of personal sacrifice, who suffers temptation and ridicule along his charitable quest for aesthetic “truth.” Hagan’s artistic practice was forged from his profound social consciousness.

Fred Hagan was born in Toronto in 1918. He studied at the Central Technical School from 1932 to 1933, and at the Ontario College of Art from 1937 to 1939. In 1941 he moved to Newmarket, Ontario and taught at Pickering College. In 1946 he was hired by the Ontario College of Art (now the Ontario College of Art and Design) where he taught until 1983.


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The AGO is proud to celebrate its centennial year, beginning September, 2001. The Art Gallery of Ontario''s collection comprises more than 25,000 works representing 1,000 years of extraordinary European, Canadian, modern, Inuit and contemporary art. This important collection, along with the Gallery''s preeminence in art education programs, makes the AGO one of Canada''s most significant public resources for the advancement of the visual arts in Canada.

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