With its roots in Toronto in the 1920s and 1930s, modernist art developed with pioneers such as Lowrie Warrener, Bertram Brooker and Lawren Harris. Its practice was intellectual and creative, and produced works both eccentric and remarkable.
Two decades later, in Montreal, Canada's first truly independent avant-garde art movement--the Automatistes--evolved with artists such as Paul-Emile Borduas and Jean-Paul Riopelle, guided by the precedents of Cubism and Surrealism.
After the Second World War, abstraction spread across Canada, manifesting itself in significant regional movements. The Painters Eleven, in Toronto, were stimulated by abstract expressionism, which had taken root in New York in the 1940s and 1950s.
Vancouver artists created landscape based lyrical abstractions influenced by native culture, mysticism and to some degree British art.
In Montreal, an alternative to the Automatistes was offered by the Plasticiens. Drawing on the European tradition of geometric abstraction, the Plasticiens believed that painting is a search for true objectivity.
In the sixties, the Prairies were influenced by Clement Greenberg's post-painterly abstraction, producing the Regina Five and the EmmaLake workshops.
At the end of the twentieth century, with the rise of post modernism and technological advances, many critics denounced painting. Artists, however, were not swayed, and today abstract painting is alive in studios across Canada.