Catalogue


Miller Brittain : when the stars threw down their spears /
Tom Smart ; with an essay by Allen Bentley.
imprint
Fredericton : Goose Lane Editions, 2007.
description
180 p. : ill. (chiefly col.)
ISBN
9780864924834
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
author
imprint
Fredericton : Goose Lane Editions, 2007.
isbn
9780864924834
general note
Co-published by: Beaverbrook Art Gallery.
Issued also in French under the same title.
Published on the occasion of an exhibition of the same name organized and circulated by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton.
catalogue key
6142120
 
Gift to Victoria University Library. Galbraith, Doris. 2008/01/29.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
In Miller Brittain: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears, Tom Smart demonstrates the cohesion of Brittain's imagery. For the first time, he reveals the links between Brittain's early social realism and his later figurative abstractions and surrealist-inspired compositions. Miller Brittain burst upon the Canadian art scene in the late 1930s with masterful, emotion-filled drawings and paintings of the human form. While studying in New York at the Art Students' League, he had internalized a pivotal moment in American art. Breaking free of traditional realist modes, a radical new generation of artists claimed that art should reflect the life of the artist and the condition of the subjects depicted. At a time when Group of Seven landscapes defined Canadian painting, Brittain challenged the establishment with his unerring sense of line, composition, and engaging human narratives. Later, combining figuration and abstraction, he explored the limites of the body and the borderlands of sanity to express the depths of despair and the heights of ecstasy. During World War II, Brittain joined the Royal Canadian Air Force, received the Distinguished Flying Cross, and became a Canadian war artist. During bombing missions, he carried William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience in his pocket. In Miller Brittain: When the Stars Threw Down Their Spears, Smart illustrates how Blake's famous poem "The Tyger" inspired the pervasive motif of Brittain's post-war career: the combination of star and spear. Originally a depiction of searchlights and shot-down aircraft, it became, over the years, Brittain's iconic flowers and stems, heads and necks, sunbursts and smoke. Allen Bentley reinforces Smart's observations by showing the profound influence of Blake's theories on the entire body of Brittain&$146s post-war work.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Skillfully written." - Books in Canada
"Visually stunning." - Halifax Daily News
"Elegant . . . Many excellent colour plates, accompanied by thoroughly researched biographical information." - Globe and Mail
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Summaries
Main Description
Miller Gore Brittain #401912-1968#41; had an unerring sense of structure and composition. In the early 1930s, at the Art Students' League in New York, he experienced the pivotal moment in American art: the shift from tradition to abstract expressionism. When he returned to Canada, the Group of Seven still defined Canadian art, and he burst upon the scene with emotion-filled drawings and paintings of the human form. Later, combining figuration and abstraction, he explored the limits of the body and the borderlands of sanity to express the depths of despair and the heights of ecstasy. World War II interrupted Brittain's career and on his bombing missions he carried William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience with him. Blake's poetry, particularly "The Tyger," inspired the pervasive motif of Brittain's later career. At first a description of searchlights and shot-down aircraft, the star and spear motif later developed into iconic flowers and stems, heads and necks, sunbursts and smoke. In this illuminating and provocative book, Tom Smart examines the sweep of Brittain's work, his progression from social realism to abstraction and surrealism, while Allen Bentley shows the profound influence of Blake's thought in Brittain's painting and drawings.
Description for Reader
Miller Gore Brittain (1912-1968) had an unerring sense of structure and composition. In the early 1930s, at the Art Students' League in New York, he experienced the pivotal moment in American art: the shift from tradition to abstract expressionism. When he returned to Canada, the Group of Seven still defined Canadian art, and he burst upon the scene with emotion-filled drawings and paintings of the human form. Later, combining figuration and abstraction, he explored the limits of the body and the borderlands of sanity to express the depths of despair and the heights of ecstasy. World War II interrupted Brittain's career and on his bombing missions he carried William Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience with him. Blake's poetry, particularly "The Tyger," inspired the pervasive motif of Brittain's later career. At first a description of searchlights and shot-down aircraft, the star and spear motif later developed into iconic flowers and stems, heads and necks, sunbursts and smoke. In this illuminating and provocative book, Tom Smart examines the sweep of Brittain's work, his progression from social realism to abstraction and surrealism, while Allen Bentley shows the profound influence of Blake's thought in Brittain's painting and drawings.
Table of Contents
"My aims as an artist"p. 17
Academicians and modernsp. 25
Satire and ironyp. 43
Art from lifep. 57
Art for social changep. 75
Miller Brittain at warp. 87
Ecstasy and hysteriap. 99
The inevitable experience of everymanp. 117
Channellingp. 137
Miller Gore Brittain and William Blake : artists in parallel worldsp. 149
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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