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 Featured Title
National Visions, National Blindness
Canadian Art and Identities in the 1920s
Leslie Dawn  

$87.00 Hardcover
Release Date: 8/20/2006
ISBN: 9780774812177    

$36.95 Paperback
Release Date: 1/1/2007
ISBN: 9780774812184    

456 Pages


About the Book

• Winner, 2008 Klibanksy Prize, The Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences

In the early decades of the twentieth century, Canada sought to define itself as an independent dominion with allegiance to the British Empire. The visual arts were considered central to the formation of a distinct national identity, and the Group of Seven’s landscapes became part of a larger program to unify the nation and assert its uniqueness. National Visions, National Blindness traces the development of this program and illuminates its conflicted history.
Using newly discovered archival evidence, Leslie Dawn revises common interpretations of several well-known events and rescues others from obscurity. He problematizes conventional perceptions of the Group as a national school and underscores the contradictions inherent in international exhibitions showing unpeopled landscapes alongside Northwest Coast Native arts and the "Indian" paintings of Langdon Kihn and Emily Carr. Dawn examines how this dichotomy forced a re-evaluation of the place of First Nations in both Canadian art and nationalism.

National Visions, National Blindness is an elegantly written work offering new and insightful analysis, and will be of great interest to readers and researchers of Canadian art history, First Nations art and history, tourism, cultural politics, museum studies, and ethnographic practices.

About the Author(s)

Leslie Dawn is a professor in the Department of Art at the University of Lethbridge.

Table of Contents



Chapter 1 Canadian Art in England

Chapter 2 England in Canadian Art

Chapter 3 Canadian Art in Paris

Chapter 4 Canadian Primitives in Paris

Chapter 5 Barbeau and Kihn with the Stoney in Alberta

Chapter 6 Barbeau and Kihn with the Gitxsan in British Columbia

Chapter 7 Giving Gitxsan Totem Poles a New Slant

Chapter 8 Representing and Repossessing the Skeena Valley

Chapter 9 West Coast Art, Native and Modern

Chapter 10 The Downfall of Barbeau

Chapter 11 Revisiting Carr




Illustration Credits



If Fred Housser’s A Canadian Art Movement was the most influential Canadian art book of the 20th century, then National Visions, National Blindness is the 21st century’s equivalent. Vast and complex in conception, Dawn’s work embodies primary research of national significance and shows the real foundations of Canadian art.
- Nancy Townshend, Alberta Views, May 2008

Dawn’s critique of the Group is rich with archival rarities such as letters between NGC officials, exhibit pamphlets, and critical appraisals from an array of periodicals to unfold a story of how the international “field” of fine art in the 1920s was shaped to an increasing degree by bureaucrats and state coffers, not artists and their audience.
- Tim Kaposy, Canadian Literature, No.197, Summer 2008

This is a significant book that seeks to revise (and, in so doing, renders problematic) long-standing conventions relating to the landscapes of the Group of Seven and the construction of a modern Canadian national identity in the early twentieth century. Dawn boldly brings out the inconsistencies and contradictions at the heart of the new pictorial identity and, in particular, the inherent paradox in promoting landscapes empty of all people. The book is well documented and offers fascinating insight into the role of institutions and individuals, and the role of individuals within institutions, as Canada sought to formulate and assert its specificity. Elegantly written and a pleasure to read, it will be of real interest to a wide variety of readers.
- Christopher Rolfe, University of Leicester, British Journal of Canadian Studies, Vol. 21.2, Autumn 2008

Sample Chapter

Front Matter and Chapter One

Related Topics

Political Science > Canada
History > Canada
Cultural Studies

Other Ways To Order

In Canada, order your copy of National Visions, National Blindness from UTP Distribution at:

UTP Distribution
5201 Dufferin Street
Toronto, Ontario
M3H 5T8

Phone orders: 1(800)565-9523 or (416)667-7791
Fax orders: 1(800)221-9985 or (416)667-7832

Ordering information for customers outside Canada

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