Alumni profiles: 1930s

Jack Bush (AOCA, 1934)

One of the pioneers of abstract painting in Canada, Bush (1909-1977) studied at OCAD U (then OCA) from 1928 to 1934. He worked as a commercial artist and his early career was influenced by the Group of Seven and the Canadian Group of Painters. He developed his own style with the formation of the Painters Eleven in 1953 and was encouraged by art critic Clement Greenberg to abandon the more studied style of the New York Abstract Expressionists and simplify his own work. Bush likened the effects of colour to jazz music and his abstract colour-field paintings of the 1960s are his most recognized works. He represented Canada at the 1967 São Paulo Art Biennial, after which his art found great commercial success in New York City. He was eventually honoured as an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976, and the Art Gallery of Ontario toured a large retrospective of his work that summer.

Frederick R. Hagan (AOCA, Printmaking, 1939)

Hagan (1918–2003) studied at OCAD U (then OCA) from 1937 to 1939. In 1941 he moved to Newmarket, Ontario and taught at Pickering College. In 1946 he was hired by OCAD U where he taught until 1983. A recipient of the Canadian Centennial Medal, Hagan exhibited his work at the 1939 New York World’s Fair, the Sarnia Art Gallery, the travelling exhibition of the Art Gallery of Ontario, Rodman Hall in St. Catharines, and at Mount St. Vincent in Halifax. Canada Post issued the “Explorers of Canada” series of stamps based on paintings by the artist.

Doris McCarthy (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1930)

Iconic Canadian painter Doris McCarthy (1910–2010) studied at OCAD University (then OCA) under professors Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald, Emanuel Hahn and Yvonne McKague Housser. A fearless artist and teacher, McCarthy has been recognized for her continuing contribution to Canada's artistic community as the recipient of The Order of Canada; The Order of Ontario; five honorary doctorates and an Honorary Fellowship from OCAD U. In 1999, McCarthy was named the first Artist of Honour at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. Her 100th birthday in 2010 was marked with celebrations all over the province of Ontario. Upon her passing, McCarthy donated Fool’s Paradise, her Scarborough Bluffs neighbourhood home and studio, to the Ontario Heritage Trust to be used as an artist studio/sanctuary, along with an endowment for its upkeep.

Clair Stewart (AOCA, Drawing & Painting, 1933)

Born in Kenton, Manitoba, Stewart (1910–2008) graduated from OCAD U (then OCA) in 1932, and worked for Askew Young, an advertising agency in London, England, in the mid-1930s. Stewart returned to Canada in 1937, found work at McLaren and McCaul until the war, and joined printers Rolph-Clark-Stone as art director and designer thereafter. He noted that printers at the time typically did not consider design, typesetting, and illustration as separate, chargeable services. His illustrations were award winners at the popular 1947 exhibition of the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists, which, although primarily devoted to fine printmaking, did much to publicize the commercial arts as well. He formed the graphic design firm of Stewart & Morrison with Ted Morrison in 1960, where he remained a principal for almost twenty-five years.

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