ALC BCSFA CGP FCA G7 OSA RPS TPG
1885 - 1970
oil on canvas
on verso stamped Lawren Harris LSH Holdings Ltd. #136
54 3/4 x 40 in, 139.1 x 101.6 cm
Estimate: $70,000 - $90,000 CAD
Estate of the Artist
LSH Holdings Ltd., Vancouver
Private Collection, Toronto
Lawren Harris moved to Hanover, New Hampshire from Toronto in 1934, and by 1935 he had evolved toward abstraction. In 1938 he traveled to Santa Fe, and became one of the founders of the Transcendental Painting Group, along with American artists such as Raymond Jonson and Emile Bisttram, among others. While living there, his work left behind any abstracted references to landscape that had occurred in Hanover. Harris was president of the Group, whose members had a shared interest in spirituality. He was a theosophist, an affinity shared with Bisttram, who was an advocate of dynamic symmetry, a theory of ideal composition based on the mathematical relationship of the proportions of the golden section to the logarithmic spiral. Universal unity and spiritual harmony were at the core of theosophy. Harris’s stay in Santa Fe was interrupted by World War II – as the transfer of funds from Canada was prohibited because of the war, and he returned to Canada in 1940, settling in Vancouver.
Harris’s approach to abstraction expressed, in his words “form rhythmically poised in three dimensions.” He was committed to spatial illusion, and this differentiates him from other abstract styles dominant in New York in the 1930s. As Roald Nasgaard wrote, “illusions in three-dimensional space stayed innate to the breath and spirit of his abstraction.” In Abstract #136, a dynamic red form floats slightly off-centre, penetrating a spear-like yellow vertical form joining a semi-circle. With its flame-like appearance, it draws the eye like a magnet. Vibrating against an expansive, glowing white background bordered by vibrating orange and pink, the red form feels alive. One is inclined to place interpretations on it, like an elemental or a floating soul – as it embodies energy. Around it, Harris places colour areas and lines which define the space it inhabits, but do not block it. Abstract #136 is a very light, free composition with a buoyant, ethereal atmosphere.
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