Begrudgingly famous, Maud Lewis sold her paintings for $5

by AryanArtnews
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For contemporary art, it is said that the strongest emotion it produces can be the suspicion you are receiving.

In Maud Lewis’s art, the opposite is true. The suspicion is that she had — probably glad.

Even after becoming famous for her unique folk crafts in the 1960s, she only reluctantly allowed prices to rise. Paintings from $ 4.50 to $ 5. this is true. Can you imagine an auction of Sotheby’s? “Start bidding from a quarter. Can you hear 2 bits?”

Lewis’s art, her artistic practices, and her life are so rare, folktale (intimidating and affectionate), and so peculiar that the usual standards do not apply. is.

If you don’t know Maud Lewis and her work, you’ll love it after finishing the fascinating exhibition of her art “Maud Lewis” at the Art Gallery of Hamilton. A version of the show that debuted in 2019 at Vaughan’s McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Living from 1903 to 1970, Lewis is a shared cabin in Digby, Nova Scotia, where her stingy husband, worker, fish pedler, and hard scrubbull farmer Everett Lewis bring her home. I painted it with home improvement paint.

She painted on the boards and shingles prepared by Everett at the expense of considerable physical difficulty, given the severe arthritis that crippled and injured her. Her scene was a colorful and nostalgic landscape with idyllic charm.

Carry log of horses and cows in the cart. Children skating in the pond. A house with a red roof on a rolling green hill. A train that goes through the countryside. Ships in the sea harbor; deer against evergreen stands; cats with stunned eyes; autumn landscapes of gold and russet lie like counterpanes on the cozy streets of rural dwellings.

She painted in a folk and primitive style, and careless and reductive eyes may sometimes be tempted to drop her work to the rank of glorious postcards (today’s relativistic). Who says it’s a demotion in the Relativistic Sweepstakes?). In fact, Lewis (Needoil) started making Christmas cards with his mother.

That’s true, Lewis painted on order. Her piece of iron said a painting for sale. But the result was clearly hers and faithful to her own traits.

Some may find it difficult to go beyond the aspects of Lewis’s approach. Ignore flat dimensions, sophisticated effects and polishes (although some people find virtues as well). Underlying commercialism ($ 5 painting, hard to stick to). Repetitiveness (Hello Andy Warhol).

As Sarah Milroy, who curated this fascinating exhibition, points out, even the most reluctant must admit that Lewis had strong and unique gifts in terms of color and composition. It will not be. Eccentricity, yes, but infectious.

“How could she play with the subject of a covered bridge, or the shape of a boat moored at the dockside? She was such a color as a tool to compose the scene. I was able to develop the gift of. “

In her foreword, Milroy is soon working on a puzzle that Lewis presents for curators, critics and collectors. Milroy calls her “guilty joy.”

Joy for “her color riots”. Guilty, “Her way of going seems to go against everything I understand about the artist’s call. In the face of suitability and mercantilism, she supports a unique and often critical vision of the world. Is to do. “

According to theory, art should either build on its own strengths or fall. Still, stories are often inseparable from creative evaluation and are not as clear as this. The “story” surrounding her work is so powerful that she made a movie called “Modi” starring Oscar candidates Sally Hawkins and Ethan Hawke.

If that hadn’t happened, her life would have been almost unbelievable. Legitimacy. Cruelty. Deformation. Impossible fame. It is very clearly covered in the catalog and the 1960s television documentary that runs as part of AGH’s “mode”.

Throughout his life, art is shining and cannot be classified as it is. No, I don’t feel like you had it. You feel joy. There is no ironic separation here. Simplicity is real and a victory. Still, in her early 1940s paintings, there is a real difference in style, as AGH curator Tobi Bruce points out. It represents a true natural command of traditional talent rather than technique, composition and color harmony.

The fascinating sideshow here is dedicated to the work of the late Popa Wilson, a version of Maud Lewis that is unique to the region. He got his own version of folk craft at the age of 80. He died in 2019 at the age of 95.

The exhibition will be held until January 9th.

For more information, please visit

Jeff Mahony is a Hamilton-based reporter and columnist who covers spectator culture and lifestyle stories, commentary, and humor. Contact him by email: [email protected]


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