Lawren Stewart Harris was a Canadian landscape painter best known for being a member of the Group of Seven, an artist’s group which developed a uniquely Canadian style of painting. Harris studied in Germany where he became interested in theosophy, a mystical branch of religious philosophy. This interest would later be reflected in his paintings.
In 1920, Lawren Harris along with fellow artists J.E.H. MacDonald, Frank Johnston, A.Y. Jackson, and others formed the Group of Seven, known for creating new representations of the Northern Canadian landscape. Harris built a studio in Toronto to provide artists with an inexpensive place to work.
While Harris’s early paintings featured florid brushwork and busy compositions, his style soon evolved to become more stark and streamlined, with broad, flat areas of color. His favorite subjects included the Algoma region of Ontario, the North shore of Lake Superior, the Rocky Mountains, and the Canadian Arctic, regions to which he made extended sketching trips. By 1934, he had moved to Hanover, New Hampshire, where he painted his first completely abstract works.
In 1938, Harris moved to Sante Fe, New Mexico. There he became a founding member of the Transcendental Painting Group, which advocated a spiritual form of abstraction. Harris asserted that art is “a realm of life between our mundane world and the world of the spirit.”
Harris settled in Vancouver in 1940, where he continued to paint in an abstract style for the remainder of his life. He died in 1970, at the age of 84.