Page 23 - Studio International - January 1965
P. 23

Gallery going  in  Toronto

                                                                                    rich:  besides  entertaining  such  travelling  shows  as
                                                                                    Clement Greenberg's Post Painterly Abstraction and the
                                                                                    British  Council's  Contemporary  British  Painting,  the
                                                                                    gallery organized the world's first  Canaletto exhibition
                                                                                    and a study of 273 Picassos, entitled Picasso and Man,
                                                                                    that  John  Richardson  called  the  most  imaginative  to
                                                                                    have bee.n devoted to that artist.
                                                                                     The gall.ery is designed around a skylighted sculpture
                                                                                    court whose fountain is  a  replica of Verrocchio's Boy
                                                                                    with  the  Dolphin-complete  even  with  that  parched
                                                                                    trickle of water that you find in the  Palazzo Vecchio!
                                                                                    The  sculpture  section  is  small,  but  it  contains  robust
                                                                                    pieces by Moore,  Hepworth and  Butler and an elegant
                                                                                    Emilio  Greco,  as well  as rare  bronzes  by  Picasso  and
                                                                                    Matisse.  Gaps  in  the  gallery's  collection  of  European
                                                                                    painting  are  also  compensated  for  by  rewarding
                                                                                    individual  items,  and  the  rooms  that  follow  the
                                                                                    chronological  development  of  European  art  are  an
                                                                                    essential asset to Toronto's two universities. The section
                                                                                    devoted  to  Canadian artists,  for reasons already men­
                                                                                    tioned, is rich in the work of the new generation as well
                                                                                    as  in  that  of  Canada's  celebrated  'Group  of  Seven·­
                                                                                    which between the wars developed a style of painterly
                                                                                    landscape  reminiscent  of,  though  unconnected  with,
                                                                                    the same period in Scandinavia.
                                                                                     Among  postwar  artists,  a  long  list  of English  names
                                                                                    the youngest of which is  Harold  Cohen's,  reflects the
                                                                                    'loyalist'  temper  of  Toronto  patronage throughout  the
                                                                                    'fifties. Some extent of this, now waning, loyalty to the
                                                                                    'old country' can be judged from the claim of one dealer
                                                                                    that  he  could  locate  fifteen  Chadwick  sculptures  in
                                                                                    Toronto alone; and if you begin a tour of the uptown
                                                                                    dealers by visiting the  Laing  Gallery  you will find  this
                                                                                    predilection for  British artists of the 'fifties still strong,
         Harold  Town                                                               in spite of reorientations going on.
         Optical.  1964                                                              The  Laing  family,  who  have  been  channelling  top
         54  X  54 in.                                                              European  names  into  this  continent  for  over  thirty
         Picture  Loan  Society                                                     years, find their trade in British gilt-edged undiminished.
                                                                                    At  Laing's,  the  international  set  drive  up,  as  ever,  to
                                                                                    appraise an Epstein  or a  seven  foot  Bather  by Emilio
                                                                                    Greco, a  Butler or a  Manzu  Cardinal or, perhaps, from
                                                                                    the gallery's collection of classic Canadians, a painting
                                                                                    by Cornelius Kreigoff, Canada's most rare and delightful
                                                                                    landscapist.  Laing  provenance  is  a  hallmark  across
                                                                                    Canada  and  the  States,  and  G.  Blair  Laing,  who
                                                                                    inherited the  business from his father in  1959,  is  also
                                                                                    well  known  on  the  European  scene.  which  he  visits
                                                                                    several times a year to buy for his decorous Bloor Street
                                                                                     Laing's opened in 1934, but there was an art trade in
                                                                                    Toronto long before then. The Cooling Galleries on Bay
                                                                                    Street, which still specialize in the petits maftres of the
                                                                                    19th century, were  established  as early as  1797,  and
                                                                                    the  Roberts  Gallery  on  Yonge  Street  has  a  pedigree
                                                                                    dating from 1842.  Laing's nearest contemporary in fact
                                                                                    is  the  Picture  Loan  Society,  formed  by  a  group  of
                                                                                    enthusiasts in 1937, rather like London's A.I.A.
                                                                                     Douglas  Duncan,  doyen  of  the  Toronto  scene,  can
                                                                                    still be found at Picture Loan, the one original sponsor
                                                                                    still  involved.  He  recounts  how  the  Society  opened
                                                                                    with a one man show by Carl  Schaefer, and struggled
                                                                                    to maintain the  flickering  avant garde  for over twenty
                                                                                    years.  Here came such names as David Milne, LeMoine
                                                                                    Fitzgerald,  Paul-Emile  Borduas,  Will  Ogilvie  and  the
         Richard  Turner                                                            exiled and impoverished Wyndham Lewis-and in 1954
         Chamber.  1 963                                                            Harold Town, Canada's enfant terrible, now in the Tate
         Cast cement fondu                                                          with  Toni  Onley  and  David  Partridge.  You  may  still
         9 ft.  7  in.  high
         Dorothy  Cameron  Gallery                                                  pick a future star from  Picture  Loan's enormous bran-
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