Tom Thomson
An Icon of Canadian Culture in Art

In by admin

Story by Alice Engelmore


Tom Thomson, Petawawa Gorges, 1916, oil on wood panel, 21.4 × 26.5 cm,
Purchased with funds donated by Major F.A. Tilston, V.C. - McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Photo: Toni Hafkenscheid

Acaptivating selection of Tom Thomson's works is coming to the Audain Art Museum (AAM) in Whistler very soon — a “must-see” this summer and fall. The Art Canada Institute describes Thomson as “one of the greatest artists Canada ever produced.” His work is exceedingly rare, as only 50 canvasses and about 300 oil-on-board sketches exist from his short career, from 1913 until his untimely death in 1917 at age 39.
Tom Thomson: North Star will feature more than 100 original works, presented chronologically and thematically, at the AAM from June 29 to Oct. 14.

Dr. Curtis Collins, director & chief curator of the AAM, stated recently in a press release, "North Star is the most important historical exhibition that the AAM has hosted since opening to the public in 2016. Visitors to the museum will marvel at Thomson’s ability to evoke the ruggedness of Ontario’s northern lakefronts, which is a perfect compliment to our superlative collection of Emily Carr paintings that capture British Columbia’s towering forests."

Thomson’s unique and powerful style, using energetic brush strokes and bold colours, greatly influenced the famous Canadian “Group of Seven” painters, many of whom were his friends. Tragically, he died before the group’s founding in 1920.

“This is an extraordinary exhibit. Thomson was a superb painter who captured Canada’s beautiful wilderness. In my opinion, his paintings are Canada’s national treasures. [Seeing this extensive exhibition of Thomson’s original art] is a very, very rare opportunity,” said Kiriko Watanabe, the AAM’s Gail & Stephen A. Jarislowsky Curator.


Tom Thomson, Northern Lights, 1916 or 1917, oil on wood, 21.5 × 26.7 cm,
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa - Bequest of Dr. J.M. MacCallum, Toronto, 1944 Photo: NGC

The artwork for this exhibition will come from various collections, including the McMichael Canadian Collection of Art, the National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Alberta, Tom Thomson Art Gallery, and Art Gallery of Ontario. The exhibit is co-curated by Sarah Milroy, executive director and chief curator of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and Ian A.C. Dejardin, McMichael’s former executive director.

A stunning hardcover, full-colour exhibition catalogue on his art, titled Tom Thomson: North Star, by Milroy and Ian A.C. Dejardin, with contributions by Algonquin historian Christine McRae Luckasavitch, cultural historian Douglas Hunter, and contemporary Canadian artists Ben Reeves, Sandra Meigs, and Zachari Logan will be available at the Audain Art Museum shop.