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 Clarence Alphonse Gagnon  (1881 - 1942)

About: Clarence Alphonse Gagnon
 

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Lived/Active: Quebec / Canada/France      Known for: landscape painting, etching

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Ad Code: 2
Clarence Alphonse Gagnon
from Auction House Records.
Environs de Baie-Saint-Paul
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Painter, illustrator, and etcher, Clarence Alphonse Gagnon is credited as being one of the major figures in the development of Canadian modern art.  His paintings are known for their strong color, luminous* qualities and styles incorporating Realism* and Impressionism*.  He also spent much of his career in France, and throughout his productive painting life was back and forth between the two countries.

Gagnon was born in Montreal, Canada, November 8, 1881.  He studied at the Art Association of Montreal, beginning when he was age 16, with William Brymner from 1897-1900.  From Brymner he learned about sketching and drawing directly from nature.

In 1904, Gagnon went to Paris where he set up a permanent studio for several years and studied briefly at the Academie Julian* with Jean-Paul Laurens.  This European venture was financed by James Morgan, a Montreal art collector and businessman and led to Gagnon's being much influenced by French Impressionism and abandoning earth tones for brighter colors.   Back in Canada in 1909, he lived near Montreal in Baie-Saint-Paul, which, in the Charlevois region, became one of his favorite painting locations.  Until the train connected to the area in 1919, it was a traditional French-Canadian rural place, unspoiled by industrialism.

He became an associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* in 1910 and a full member in 1922.  From 1911 to 1914 he was variously in Canada, France and Norway, working from sketches begun in Quebec.  His subjects included French-Canadian life and anecdotal scenes such as Horse Racing in Winter, Quebec, c. 1927.  He abandoned etching* for landscape painting, and in addition to scenes of Quebec did village scenes and landscapes in France.  In 1913, he exhibited scenes of Canada at the Galerie Reitlinger in Paris.

Gagnon lived in Paris from 1924 to 1936, where he illustrated Louis Hemon's story of Canadian frontier life, Marie Chapdelaine, and L. F. Pouquette's Le Grand Silence Blanc with colored wood block prints.

To protect against forgeries, he placed his thumbprint on the back of his canvases.
He ground his own paints, making paintings simple in design, with brilliant color.

In 1936, Clarence Gagnon stopped painting, and then devoted himself to the establishment of Ile d'Orléans, a national historical park inspired by ones he had seen in Scandinavia. 

He died at age sixty on January 5, 1942 in Montreal.


Source:
Editor, "Clarence Gagnon, 1881-1942", American Art Review, December 2006, p. 134-137

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

 



Biography from Mayberry Fine Art:
Clarence Gagnon received his artistic training at the Art Association of Montreal under William Brymner from 1897-1900.  In 1903, the generosity of art patron James Morgan allowed him to go to Paris and study in the studio of painter Jean-Paul Laurens.

Gagnon distinguished himself early in his career by the quality of his engravings and won a gold medal at the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition* in St. Louis in 1904, and an honourable mention the following year at the Salon des Artistes Français* in Paris.

Returning to Canada in 1909, he divided his time between Montréal and Baie-St-Paul. He became a member of the Royal Society of Canada and later he was elected associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts*.  He felt compelled to return to France in 1917, and, while in Paris, continued to paint canvases based on his earlier sketches of Quebec villages.

He returned to Canada to marry two years later, remaining until 1924.  During this period he sketched with A.Y. Jackson and Edwin Holgate at Baie Ste Paul.  He received the Trevor Prize of the Salmagundi Club* of New York.  He illustrated Le Grand Silence Blanc (1929) and the deluxe edition of Louis Hémon's Maria Chapdelaine (1933).  Upon his return from a second stay in France from 1922-36 the University de Montréal awarded him an honorary doctorate.

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx

 



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Clarence Gagnon is also mentioned in these AskART essays:
San Francisco Panama-Pacific Exhibition 1915

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