1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group

October 22, 2016 - January 29, 2017

Organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
Presented by BMO Bank of Montreal
Exhibition Patrons: Charlie Fischer and Joanne Cuthbertson
Funded by the Government of Canada

Vintage Photograph of Canyon de Chelly - Navaho, 1904
Adrien Hébert, Saint Catherine Street, 1926, oil on canvas, Archambault family, photo MMFA, Christine Guest

Immerse yourself in the vibrant colours of the Jazz Age in 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group. With its busy port, booming economy and prohibition-free nightlife, the Montreal of the 20s epitomized modernity, and the artists that made up the Beaver Hall Group effectively harnessed and reflected this forward-bearing energy in their work.

”Their animated urban scenes depict a bustling scenes depict a bustling, grown-up metropolis,” notes Nathalie Blondil, Director and Chief Curator, Montreal Museum of Fine Art. “Instead of regionalist folklore, they exude confidence – both in oneself and the future.”

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Although considered a Montreal counterpart to Toronto's Group of Seven, the group stood apart through their work: rather than offering an image of Canadian identity through depictions of the untamed landscapes of a northern country, the Montreal artists imbued the inhabited landscapes of a northern culture with the colours of modernity. They also painted many portraits that convey this same quest for modernism; these works rank among the most remarkable in the history of Canadian art. The near equal numbers of male and female artists in the group - a first in Quebec as in Canada - is another resolutely modern trait.

The exhibition 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group presents works by its official members as well as by artists associated with them through friendship and solidarity; it demonstrates that the group's diversity fuelled rich and fruitful exchanges.


Alisa Siegel's documentary is called "Who Gets to be Remembered." It was first broadcast in on the CBC on February, 2016.

It took ten years of persuading, digging, searching and begging. But finally, the Beaver Hall Group is getting its due. Explosions of colour, astonishing portraits and a modernist take on the 1920's, set this group of artists on a dramatically different course from the Group of Seven. Not only that, half of them were women. A few in the Beaver Hall Group became well known in the art world. But the group, and so many of its artists, disappeared from the public sphere. Two curators, Jacques Des Rochers and Brian Foss, decided it was time that all of these painters - men and women - got their due. They spent almost ten years making it happen. Their hugely successful exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has travelled to the Art Gallery of Hamilton, the Art Gallery of Windsor, and Calgary's Glenbow Museum.


Organized by:
Presented by:
Exhibition Patrons:

Charlie Fischer and
Joanne Cuthbertson
Funded by:

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