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Defiant Spirits

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  75 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Beginning in 1912, Defiant Spirits traces the artistic development of Tom Thomson and the future members of the Group of Seven, Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A. Y. Jackson, Franz Johnston, Arthur Lismer, J. E. H. MacDonald, and Frederick Varley, over a dozen years in Canadian history. Working in an eclectic and sometimes controversial blend of modernist styles, they ...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published by Douglas & McIntyre (first published September 25th 2010)
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. . . I don’t know when I first encountered the works of the Group of Seven and Tom Thomson. In my memory, Tom has always been floating face down in Canoe Lake surrounded by solitary windswept pines and interlaced forests against paint blob skies and the other seven or eight or nine actual members have been blended together, except for Lawren Harris, who’s throbbingly glowing smooth mountains and icebergs have always stood apart, somewhere on the West Coast, wondering where Emily Carr might be. ...more
May 14, 2012 Joanne-in-Canada rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: art historians, die hard Group of Seven fans
Recommended to Joanne-in-Canada by: Writers and Company (CBC)
As a keen fan of the Group of Seven, I was looking forward to this group biography of the iconic and nationalistic Canadian painters. I have read biographies of a few of the individual members, and was looking forward to an integrated picture of their relationships and accomplishments. Some of the book dealt with these themes, but large sections were devoted to placing the Group in their social and artistic context: their influences, their mentors, their critics and their supporters. The names, ...more
Carrie Marcotte
I would have given this book a 3.5 if I had an option to do so. I delayed reading this book because I have a Kobo, and given the referrals back to works of art throughout this work of non-fiction, I wanted to refer back to each painting/sketch the text talks about. You can't do that on a Kobo, and I guess this book doesn't actually provide the pictures required anyway. Hard to do when the read becomes so enriching when you can do so. So I chose to read this on my laptop with constant references ...more
Rick Pozeg
An absolutely wonderful history about the group of seven. They are a cultural milestone in Canadian history that is often forgotten. Each of these men have lived a league of lives and have compelling stories to tell. What speaks most to me is that in the turbulence of war and loss, trials and tribulations they never gave up on their passion of art and trying to represent Canada's national identity. In the face of adversity, much like the meaning of Thomson's "The Jack Pine", they weathered the s ...more
As an artist and Canadian myself, I thoroughly enjoyed this book for putting all of the Group of Seven and Tom Thompson within a historical and chronological perspective. Having only read and heard bits and pieces about each artist in the past, this was a refreshing read. I learned so much more about what influenced each of the artists, their origins, their influences and gave me a deeper appreciation for their creative energies. As an artist all of this is fascinating and inspiring. Well worth ...more
as with all other Ross King books, this was a very readable and quick read. this time King tackles the world of Canadian art in the early 20th century as seen through the palette of the Group of Seven. straight-forward (he leaves much of the "who killed Tom Thomson?" out of the text) examination of this most Canadian of cultural movements and the legacy (good and bad) that they've left on not only visual arts, but music, literature and drama.
Loved this book on the formative years of members of the Group of Seven Painters. I picked up a lot of information I was unaware of. The style of writing was a pleasure to read. I wish there had been more photo's of works discussed but fortunately I have some books at home containing their art that was referenced but not shown. Highly recommend this book.
I learned alot about the Canadian 7 and their companions, but compared to the other books I have read by this author (Brunelleschi's Dome and Michelangelo's Ceiling), this book was a disappointment. Too much detail and not enough of the connections between these individuals. i actually considered abandoning it, but I am glad I didn't.
Raimo Wirkkala
A wonderful group bio of the Group of Seven painters and their place in Canadian history. A minor quibble would be that, as many wonderful colour plates as there are, a few important works that the author writes about are not included. A fascinating history all the same.
Heather Roche
Wonderful book, fascinating to read, integrates world history, builds constant connections between these artists and those in Europe... a perfect history!
H Wesselius
Despite the conjectures , this is the best history of the group of seven one could hope to read.
Good introduction to the Group af Seven and their place in
the development of Canadian art.
excellent book, very well-written and researched, not boring
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Ross King (born July 16, 1962) is a Canadian novelist and non-fiction writer. He began his career by writing two works of historical fiction in the 1990s, later turning to non-fiction, and has since written several critically acclaimed and best-selling historical works.

More about Ross King...
Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling Brunelleschi's Dome: How a Renaissance Genius Reinvented Architecture The Judgment of Paris: The Revolutionary Decade That Gave the World Impressionism Leonardo and the Last Supper Ex-Libris

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