Sixty-seven years after Emily Carr’s death, seven of her most celebrated works are being shown in Kassel, Germany at dOCUMENTA (13), one of the most prestigious art events worldwide, sometimes nicknamed the "World-Expo of the Arts".
Documenta, the international exhibition of modern and contemporary art taking place every five years in Kassel, Germany, started in 1955. The 13th edition, known as dOCUMENTA (13), began on June 9, and it will extend till September 16, 2012. During 100 days, the modern art exhibition and an extensive program of lectures, seminars, films, and poetry readings, will take place in three main venues, the Fridericianum Museum, the Documenta-Hall, and the New Gallery, plus several other locations throughout the Kassel city-center.
Entrance of the New Gallery Art Museum in Kassel, Germany, June 17, 2012. Seven of Emily Carr paintings are being displayed at the dOCUMENTA (13) Art Exhibition.
The event focuses mostly on contemporary artists, but a small number of historical artists are
Emily Carr, Totem Mother, Kitwancool, 1928, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr
Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
occasionally included in the prestigious international art exhibition. Among famous painters whose work has been shown in the past are Paul Cézanne, Paul Gauguin, Joan Miró and Pablo Picasso. Late artists’ works at this year’s exhibition will include the documentary “Chaos and Creation” (1960) by Spanish surrealist artist Salvador Dalí and seven paintings by celebrated Canadian artist and writer Emily Carr.
Other Canadian artists participating in this year’s Documenta are Brian Jungen, Geoffrey Farmer, Gareth Moore, Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller.
Emily Carr’s works at dOCUMENTA (13)
Emily Carr, Totem and Forest, 1931, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
The seven works by Emily Carr on display at the New Gallery in Documenta (13) are: “The Raven” (1928-29), “Totem Mother Kitwancool” (1928), “Vanquished” (1930), “Totem and Forest” (1931), “Forest, British Columbia” (1931-32), “Red Cedar” (1931), and “Tree Trunk” (1931). The paintings are part of the outstanding collection of Carr’s works at the Vancouver Art Gallery. “This is remarkable recognition for Emily Carr. It is wonderful to see Carr receive the international attention she has long deserved. The Gallery is deeply honoured to have been asked to provide these superb paintings from our permanent collection to dOCUMENTA and to have the opportunity to showcase these works to hundreds of thousands of visitors to this world renowned exhibition.” said Vancouver Art Gallery director Kathleen Bartels.
Emily Carr, the painter
Emily Carr was born in 1871 in Victoria, BC, and died also in Victoria in 1945. Excluding some time dedicated to studying arts in San Francisco, CA (1890- 1893), England (1899-1904) and France
Emily Carr, Forest, British Columbia,1931-32, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr
Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
(1910-1912), she spent all her life in British Columbia, particularly in Vancouver Island and in Vancouver city. In 1889, following a trip to Ucluelet where she visited a village of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations people, Carr became highly appreciative of the art and culture of the indigenous people and landscapes of British Columbia. Many of her works include Totem Poles, forests, and symbols of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest which she captured during extensive trips to First Nations villages along the BC coast from Victoria to Prince Rupert and the Queen Charlotte Islands.
The total number of paintings created by Emily Carr is unknown, but it is estimated in about 400. The Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) holds the largest collection of Carr’s works, over 200 items. The Royal BC Museum (BC Archives) also maintains a significant collection of Carr’s paintings, photographs and documents. Centered on native and nature subjects, Carr’s paintings reflect her deep interest in the culture and traditions of Canada’s West Coast aboriginal people and her passionate admiration for the mountains and forests of British Columbia.
Vanquished, 1930, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Emily Carr, The Raven, 1928-29, oil on canvas. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
Emily Carr, the writer
Around 1940, at the age of 70, Emily Carr’s health deteriorated and her travels to remote locations
Emily Carr, Tree Trunk, 1931, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Emily Carr Trust. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
along the BC coast had to stop. She turned to writing. In the last years of her life she wrote several books. In 1941 Carr published “Klee Wyck”, which earned her the Governor-General's Award for non-fiction. Other works followed: “The Book of Small” in 1942 and “The House of All Sorts” in 1944. Her autobiography titled “Growing Pains” was published posthumously in 1946. In this book, Emily tells about her life in Victoria and later on in Vancouver. I particularly enjoyed reading in page 253 her poetic description of Vancouver’s Stanley Park of 1906: “Stanley Park at that time was just seven miles of virgin forest, three quarters surrounded by sea. Alone, I went there to sketch, loving its still solitudes – no living creature but dog Billie and me, submerged beneath a drown of undergrowth. Above us were gigantic spreads of pines and cedar boughs, no bothersome public, no rubbernoses. Occasional narrow trails wound through bracken and tough salal tangle. Underfoot, rotting logs lay, upholstered deep in moss, bracken, forest wastage. Your feet never knew how deep they would sink.”The Chemainus connection
Starting in 1982 and during the past 30 years, the town of Chemainus in Vancouver Island
Emily Carr, Red Cedar, 1931, oil on canvas, Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery. Photo: Trevor Mills, Vancouver Art Gallery.
has developed an impressive collection of murals. So far 40 murals have been designed and painted mostly by British Columbia artists and several artists from other Canadian provinces, the United States, Scotland, and The Bahamas. Generally, the magnificent murals have followed the theme of Chemainus history.
As of 2007, Dr. Karl Schutz, long-time resident of Chemainus, a dedicated promoter of the murals, creator and first Executive Director of the “Festival of Murals Society”, thought that a new theme and style were long overdue. He proposed the development of the "Chemainus - Emily Carr Outdoor Art Gallery". The first mural in the new series was painted by German artist Steffen Jünemann using the technique known as “Trompe L'oeil”. The mural, named "Emily's Beloved Trees", measures 6.7 x 18.6 metres and it was completed in April 2009.
Trompe L’oeil (French for “deceive the eye”) is an artistic technique allowing a realistic two-dimensional image to appear as a three-dimensional perception by virtue of an optical illusion. Jünemann’s painting ingeniously fools the onlooker’s eye through his Trompe L’oeil art by showing, on a plain, flat wall, stairs leading into an imaginary gallery displaying five of Emily Carr’s framed paintings depicting examples of the forested landscapes and rugged coastline of British Columbia Emily Carr so deeply cherished.
Steffen Jünemann, "Emily's Beloved Trees", Chemainus, BC. Canada. Size 18.6m x 6.7m (57' x 22'). Photo by: Neil Newton.
Left to right, the paintings are “Sombreness Sunlit”, “Mountain Forest”, “Loggers Culls”, “Happiness” and “Red Cedar”. And this is where the Chemainus connection rests! "Red Cedar", the fifth paintings within "Emily's Beloved Trees", is one of the seven paintings featured in dOCUMENTA (13), the world’s largest Art Exhibition taking place this summer in Kassel, Germany.
Karl Schutz is delighted that one of Carr’s paintings included in Jünemann’s Trompe L’oeil work “Emily's Beloved Trees" is also being featured at Kassel’s New Gallery, within the magnificent display of Carr’s paintings at dOCUMENTA (13): “We are sure she would have loved the Chemainus mural project which is after all about art of British Columbia and its people. By honoring Emily Carr as an iconic Canadian artist, we are also honoring her beloved trees, the mountains, the rugged BC coastline, the art of our First Nations peoples, and introducing their villages to the world,” says Schutz.