Martin stumbled upon the work of one of this country's greatest artists, and member of the famous Group of Seven, as one would have it by accident, while looking through an auction catalogue some time in the early 90's. Struck by Harris' "non-European way" of painting, Martin embarked on a person research of the artist, buying books about the Group of Seven, as well as collecting Harris' works.

He had no intention of going public with his fascination with the Canadian icon, were it not for the director of the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, who, while visiting Martin, was instantly taken by one of Harris' paintings she saw on the wall.

The rest is history, to use another ubiquitous phrase. The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris, the exhibition, was born. Organized in collaboration with the Art Gallery of Ontario, and curated by Steve Martin, it is running at the Hammer Museum until January 24, 2016, after which date it moves to the AGO. It includes over thirty major paintings selected from the most important period of the artist's career - the 1920s and early 1930s - marked by his beautifully stylized landscapes.

Martin admits he had no idea who was the author of the painting that caught his eye all this time ago. "Being an American, I thought he was an unknown artist," he told the Macleans magazine last year. "Little did I know that he was Canada's greatest painter."

"The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris"(lien externe)
The Hammer Museum
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
P 310.443.7000
From October 11, 2015 thru January 24, 2016

Photo description:

Steve Martin and The New Yorker's Adam Gopnik at "AGO on January 22, 2015"(lien externe)

Lawren Harris, Lake Superior, c. 1923. Oil on canvas. 44 x 49 15/16 in. (111.8 x 126.9 cm). The Thomson Collection ©Art Gallery of Ontario ©Family of Lawren S. Harris.

Steve Marin next to Lawren Harris's North Shore, Lake Superior, 1926. Oil on canvas 40 1/4 x 50 1/8 in. (102.2 x 127.3 cm). National Gallery of Canada; Purchased 1930. ©Family of Lawren S. Harris. Photo ©NGC.

Steve Martin next to Lawren Harris's "Isolation Peak, Rocky Mountains", 1930. Oil on canvas. 42 × 50 in. (106.7 × 127 cm). Hart House Permanent Collection, University of Toronto; Purchased by the Art Committee with income from the Harold and Murray Wrong Memorial Fund, 1946. ©Family of Lawren S. Harris.