Alberta Rhythm: The Later Work of A.Y. Jackson


Contains Illustrations, Bibliography
ISBN 0-919876-87-0





Reviewed by Patricia Morley

Patricia Morley is a professor of English and Canadian Studies at
Concordia University, an associate fellow of the Simone de Beauvoir
Institute, and author of Margaret Laurence: The Long Journey Home.


Dennis Reid, Curator of Canadian Historical Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is well known as a Canadian art historian. He is the author of numerous studies, including A Concise History of Canadian Painting. Alberta Rhythm is the first of a series of exhibitions that will examine the late (and often less familiar) work of major figures of the Group of Seven.

As Gallery Director William Withrow notes in his Preface, A.Y. Jackson is the artist who adhered most closely to the Group’s ideals. He is a very Canadian artist, “an almost mythic figure.” Reid’s long introductory essay is a study of both Jackson’s work and his way of working during the second half of his career, from the mid-thirties to the late-sixties. Reid’s intention is to reverse the established assessment of this later work as “dull, repetitive or formulary.” He places Jackson’s work solidly within the Group’s central emphasis on the wilderness land (“redolent of fundamental truths”), yet distinguishes it by colour, texture, and form. Lively biographical details of Jackson’s life during the Depression, the War, and later, show his individuality and his links with the artistic community. This quality paperback contains eight reproductions of Jackson’s work in colour, 81 in black and white, and family photos scattered through a Chronology compiled by Naomi Jackson Groves. It includes a bibliography and list of exhibitions. Jackson’s strong, vibrant colours and rhythmic compositions are typified by the cover painting, “Alberta Rhythm” (1948). The book extends our understanding of the traditions of Canadian landscape painting as established by the Group of Seven.


Reid, Dennis, “Alberta Rhythm: The Later Work of A.Y. Jackson,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 19, 2024,