Lawren Harris at the Museum of Fine Arts

 

 

 

 

 

A few weeks ago the Boston media couldn’t get enough of the celebrity curatorial efforts of Steve Martin. It turns out that the comedian and movie star has affection for the work of the Canadian painter Lawren Harris 1885-1970. The special exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts shows a full plate of Harris in a show titled The Idea of North.

 

Visitors are treated to an ice cream Arctic, and to a north shore of Lake Superior smoothed by the ages and by the artist’s vision of a delicious wilderness.

The more-than-ample descriptions accompanying each painting help visitors interpret Harris’s modernist impressions. I was struck throughout by the foreshadowing of a melting north. Grand and awesome, and creatively inflated with spiritual power and hope in Harris, the actual changing north will require, for its rescue, all the romantic idealism of Harris, and all the passion of influential types like Martin, and then some.

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