Emily Carr (December 13, 1871 – March 2, 1945) was a Canadian artist and writer heavily inspired by the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. One of the first painters in Canada to adopt a modernist and post-impressionist painting style, Carr did not receive widespread recognition for her work until later in her life.
As she matured, the subject matter of her painting shifted from aboriginal themes to landscapes, and in particular, forest scenes. As a writer, Carr was one of the earliest chroniclers of life in British Columbia. The Canadian Encyclopedia describes her as a "Canadian icon".
I don't think I have ever seen her work in person. A lot of the images that I found didn't impress me but then, there are often huge gaps between the real and what's photographed, especially in art. What I do respect is her achievement. She battled for recognition, dealt with poverty and isolation but never stopped painting.
I hadn't realized that she attended the SFAI but I did know that she was an unpopular figure, due to her frankness and refusal to kow-tow to the behavioral standards for women in her time. She was isolated, poor and struggling until the late 20's when she began to achieve recognition through the "Group of Seven," the most avant-garde Canadian painters of the time.
From then, until her death in 1942, she continued to develop as a painter, creating highly stylized and abstracted geometric forms reflecting her spiritual belief in a nature spirit, part of the culture of the indigenous native peoples of the Canadian Pacific coast.
Blunden Harbor Totems
Emily Carr brought the north to the south; the west to the east; glimpses of the ancient culture of the indigenous peoples of the Americas to the most newly arrived Europeans on the continent.
Carr made headlines late last month when her painting "Crazy Stairs" sold at auction for $3.4-million, a record-setting amount for one of her paintings. Eight pieces by the artist were sold at the Nov. 29 auction, put on by Heffel, bringing the total amount of cash netted by the auction house for Carr’s work up to $50.6-million.