A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-60

by Thom & Elder Eds.
ISBN: 1551521717

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A Review of: A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-1960
by Michael Harris

A more learned but nonetheless accessible Canadian art book is A Modern Life: Art and Design In British Columbia 1945-1960. Canada, alas, is a country which too often regards excellence in design as something generated only by Italians. Yet in 1949 there were leaders in B.C. who created an exhibition which brought together artisans, crafts people and visual artists in an effort to show what was possible with native talent. This marriage of craft and art was-is-an extraordinary concept in Canada (even though William Morris had tried it almost a century before in the UK). Handsomely printed, this volume uses the 1949 exhibition as a starting point for informed but easily-understood critiques of the seminal pieces of the era. Most of these works are published in colour, and one can thereby determine both the strengths of the innovative pieces and the weaknesses of works which are just embarrassing imitations of European masters. Despite these latter awkward exemplars, it makes one proud as a Canuck to see so many people so relatively long ago show such faith in the talents of the land.

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