If there's one thing I learned in my six years of living in Montreal, it's that Canada is a very scary place. Not scary in the sense of violence or political corruption or severe weather (although it has its moments with each of those realities). It's scary in the sense that they know everything about us...and we know nothing about them.
Case in point:
Show of hands: How many people actually thought they were going to name the five-dollar coin the "Woody?"
I don't mean to sound preachy; besides, after the Vancouver "Olympics" and the brash of bands, actors and comedians coming out of the Great White North, we're becoming more aware of our neighbors every day.
But how about visual artists? Canada has its own rich history of producing great painters, sculptors, architects and illustrators that have achieved a high amount of international recognition. It's about time we learned their names. In the end, it can only help you: Imagine a Canadian rolling his or her eyes when you become the 80th American to mention how much you like Arcade Fire. But throw in a Group of 7 reference, and they'll love you forever.
In honor of Canada Day, which is tomorrow, here are 10 great Canadian artists you should know.
10. Douglas Coupland. Influential novelist and iconic installation artist.
9. Yousuf Karsh. Internationally renowned portrait photographer.
8. Cornelius Krieghoff. One of the first historical painters to romanticize French Canadian daily life.
7. Emily Carr. One of the first Canadian painters to adopt a post-impressionist painting style.
6. Norval Morrisseau. "The Picasso of the North."
5. Paul Kane. Kane's artwork is among the earliest record of life in the Northwest before white settlement.
4. Frank Gehry. If it's postmodern/awesome/WTF architecture, it's probably Gehry.
3. A.Y. Jackson. Founder and leading member of the influential Group of 7 artists.
2. Jean-Paul Riopelle One of the members of "Les Automatistes," named for their spontaneous way of working
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1. Edward Burtynsky Internationally renowned photographer exploring the links between industry and nature.