Canadian Art, the visual arts, chiefly painting and sculpture, created in Canada from the time of European settlement in the 1600s until the present. The history of Canadian art parallels the growth of the country from its beginnings as a colony, first of France and then of Britain, until its emergence as a modern nation in the 20th century. Because of Canada’s great size and cultural diversity, the art of each region of the nation has evolved differently. Nevertheless, artists and art institutions across the country have a shared goal: to express the Canadian experience through art. The major centers of art activity in Canada have been Toronto, Ontario; Montréal, Québec; and Vancouver, British Columbia. Other cities—notably Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Halifax, Nova Scotia—have developed important visual arts communities as well, creating an informal national network of exhibition sites. In recent years especially, indigenous artists have assumed their rightful place in the history of Canadian art.
A primary theme running through Canadian art is the Canadian landscape, or perhaps more accurately, the response of artists to the environment around them. The term landscape also encompasses images of the city, as both the urban and the rural are ever-present visual references in Canadian art. The human figure is another major theme in Canadian art, both in the traditional form of the portrait and in contemporary references to the body. Still-life once held only minor interest for Canadian artists, but today this category includes images of individual objects from both the natural and the constructed world. As a young country, Canada drew on outside artistic traditions, especially those of France and Britain. From the early 19th century on, the United States influenced Canadian visual arts because of geographic proximity and strong political and economic ties between the two nations.
As Canadian artists sought a place in the global art community in the 20th century, European and non-Western images also took on significant importance for them. Painting dominated Canadian visual art until the late 20th century, when sculpture and installations—large, three-dimensional artworks in various media—became pervasive, and technology—especially photography and video—took an ever-growing role in defining Canadian culture. Although indigenous artists produced the first art works in what is now Canada, their achievements lie beyond the scope of this article, which discusses Canadian art from the time of European settlement. "Canada" © Emmanuel BUCHOT, Encarta, Wikipedia.
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