University of Alberta Press

Book details

Publication date: October 2012
Features: 498 colour photographs, notes, bibliography, index
Keywords: Art;Canadian Folk Art
Subject(s): ART / Folk & Outsider Art, Art;Canadian Folk Art, Art, Canadian Studies
Publisher(s): The University of Alberta Press, Canadian Museum of Civilization

John A. Fleming. John A. Fleming is Professor Emeritus in the Department of French and the Centre for Comparative Literature, and a former Director of the Museum Studies Program, all at the University of Toronto.

Michael J. Rowan. Michael J. Rowan is a graduate in Fine Arts, and has been an antiques dealer, appraiser, and museum consultant since 1973. He specializes in folk art and ethnic furniture. He lives in Green River near Toronto.

James A. Chambers. James A. Chambers has been a professional photographer and photo-based artist for more than 35 years. A graduate of McMaster University (Fine Arts), he currently lives in Hamilton.

"Canadian Folk Art to 1950 is a 520 page compendium beautifully showcasing museum quality examples of folk art by Canadian artists and craftsmen. Each example is presented in a full color photograph taken by James A. Chambers and is accompanied by a succinct descriptive comment. A superbly presented overview that is informed and informative, this coffee table paperback edition of Canadian Folk Art to 1950 is highly recommended for personal Folk Art Book collections." The Midwest Book Review, The Art Shelf


"John A. Fleming and Michael J. Rowan take the broad view in their gorgeous new book Canadian Folk Art to 1950, just published by the University of Alberta Press.... To create what must be the largest, most varied catalogue of its kind, Fleming and Rowan scoured public and private collections across the country, sometimes coming across unique examples by accident.... This heavy square book (available in paper or hardcover) isn't the sort of volume you would want to consume in one or two sittings. Better to return to it over and over again, to ponder the stories of another age that are bound up in its hundreds of artifacts." Roger Levesque, Edmonton Journal, January 10, 2013 [Full review at: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/entertainment/books/Book+review+Lavish+volume+celebrates+beauty/7803139/story.html]


"More than five hundred pages and packed with surprises, this compendium of Canadian folk art will be a revelation to many American collectors and dealers... Many of the objects seem distinctively Canadian and invitingly different from American material, which is what makes the book so refreshing. The stunning photography is by James A. Chambers." Antiques Magazine, January/February 2013


# 10 on the Edmonton Journal's Bestsellers list for the week on January 25, 2013.


"Humor, whimsy, beauty, and imagination abound in the book's pages... The photographs by James A. Chambers beautifully capture color and details. This immense project, six years in the making, was supported by numerous collectors, dealers, auctioneers, curators, historians, and museum staff... Folk art enthusiasts will no doubt respond to this book with the 'enthusiasm and pleasure' that the authors mention in the preface." Maine Antique Digest, March 2013


"As you approach Canadian Folk Art to 1950, the cover shows a painted detail of a hunter and his dog from a circa-1850 Quebec gameboard. Enticed, you lift the book, fully appreciating its 560-page heft, and then you fan through it, sending off the scent of freshly-printed ink and the near-cinematic frame-flashing of hundreds of vivid examples of Canadian folk art.... the authors and photography have successfully married the structural and visual aspects of Canadian traditional folk art into a coherent whole. Structure and theme and mood are simply a foundation that allows the reader to connect with the illustrated works, to stop and ponder the sublime beauty of folk art..." Larry Thompson, The Upper Canadian Antique Showcase, March-April 2013


"It is absolutely fascinating showing how a country has developed, and created its own art styles.  From trade signs, shop signs to game boards, calling card stands, furniture and paintings; weather cocks, carved paddle steamers the art is varied and stunning... The book shows how daily life in Canada over the past few centuries was depicted by local artists and craftspeople. Each chapter is accompanied by a well written section setting the works of art in context, and helping to understand the environment in which they were made. This is a book which will appeal to social historians as well as artists and craftspeople wanting to know more about Canadian art.  The illustrations are brilliant, and a joy to see providing information, inspiration and pleasure. It is easy to see why Canadian folk art is becoming so collectible. 5 stars." Angela Youngman


"[Canadian Folk Art] has more than 425 artifacts with captioned photos from the nineteenth century through the 1950s. The authors emphasize material culture, reference fine art versus craft, and let in the fresh air of association and identity. With unique thematic arrangement they encourage personal response to the aesthetic of objects as one might to fine art. The rich images of objects are split up by theme, but not genre, and create 'visual poetry' inviting personal connections. The authors' goal is to examine attraction to and collection of traditional arts and to wonder about their 'necessary and enduring value.' They succeed.... Some of the curious objects...make this a visual antiques market extravaganza. It showcases beauty, cleverness, and skill of fine specimens that could so easily be lost to posterity had it not been for this excellent compilation." Marianne L. Sade, Art Libraries Society of North America, May 2013


"The 17 chapters explore affinities ranging from the natural world to symbolic expression.... Photographs of objects, often dramatically lit and cropped, and accompanied by descriptive captions, follow. Thus, each set of 'affinities' offers juxtapositions that compel readers to reflect on how one organizes one's comprehension of art in life. Clearly written, this book affords an engaging starting point for discussions of folk art in Canada and beyond. Recommended. Lower-level undergraduates and above; general readers." B.L. Herman, CHOICE Magazine, July 2013


"To make such a large, complex text both approachable and beautiful is an admirable accomplishment. The various design elements present a unified, consistent look, with a craft-like motif that complements the subject. The designer marshalled all the details, right down to the headbands, to create this very impressive book." The Alcuin Society, Awards for Excellence in Book Design in Canada, 2012


Beautiful close up photography, with shadows and wonderful image reproductions.. Excellent binding, beautifully created with gorgeous endsheets. Judge's Comments, PubWest Book Design Awards, August, 2013


"One is drawn into the pages of Canadian Folk Art to 1950 by its delightful cover.. Authors John Fleming and Michael Rowan, along with photographer James A. Chambers, have produced an informative and beautifully illustrated book. The seventeen chapters are nicely divided into categories such as domestic life, country life, gardens, and myth and symbol. Both decorative and utilitarian items are include among the over 425 featured artifacts.... Canadian Folk Art to 1950 will make a great gift and would be a pleasing addition to any Canadian's personal library." Phil Koch, Canada's History Magazine, October-November 2013


Fleming (museum studies program, U. of Toronto, Canada) and Rowan (antique dealer/appraiser) present this thick gallery of Canadian traditional folk art. In their preface, they discuss the conceptualization of the categories of art, folk art, and traditional folk art, and describe their own mission and criteria for inclusion in the volume. As pieces are presented, commentary continues to build on a definition of folk art and then explores the role of different subject matter and materials in culture. The book concludes with thoughts on the difficulties of defining an object as folk art in the digital age. 2013 Book News Inc. 


"Canadian Folk Art to 1950 expands the range of our imagination, with edifying examples and a level of interpretation that has never been better.... All the treasures selected for the book reveal how intimate, intricate, personal and public folk art can be."

John K. Grande, Vie des Arts

ISBNs: 9780888646309 978-0-88864-630-9 Title: canadian folk art to 1950