Henri Masson ARC / RCA
Masson is a landscape painter born in Spy (Belgium) on January 10, 1907, and he died in Ottawa on February 9, 1996. At a very young age, he was interested in painting and when he was 13 years old, he started art studies at the Athénée royale in Brussels. Then, in 1921, after his father’s passing, his mother emigrated with him to Canada and they settled in Ottawa. Masson then became an apprentice in an etching workshop while taking classes at the Ottawa Art Association and the Ottawa Art Club. In 1933, he presented for the first time his watercolours, pastels and drawings to a collective exhibition in Ottawa. As for his oils, he unveiled them in 1936 at the Ontario Society of Artists in Toronto. Masson liked to paint outdoor Canadian scenes and landscapes, above all those from the Ottawa Valley but also elsewhere in Québec, namely the Gaspé Peninsula, Charlevoix (Baie-Saint-Paul in particular), the Eastern Townships and the Laurentians. He showed as well great interest for old houses and city streets. In 1937, he held his first solo exhibition at the Picture Loan Society in Toronto and repeated the experience several times in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver. On the world stage, Masson participated in numerous exhibitions, i.e. the World Exhibition in New York (1939), the Rio Fine Arts Museum (1944), UNESCO (1946), São Paulo Biennial (1953), New Delhi (1953) as well as the Québec Pavilion in Osaka (1970). Art critics noticed the realism in his artworks, appreciated his bright colours and thought of him as one of the best watercolorists in Canada. Regarding his artistic evolution, Masson said: ‘’The increase in my activity had an impact on my painting which was evolving as I was getting older. This was done quietly, almost imperceptibly. When I was painting in 1945, 1946 and 1947, I used colours which were a bit dark. My art was a little more graphic and my painting a little starker. I was painting subjects that allowed me to show my perception, my personal vision of things.’’ In 1941, Masson became a member pf the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, the Société des arts graphiques and the Canadian Group of Painters. That same year, together with H.O. McCurry, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer, Masson was a judge for the War Artists Competition at the National Gallery of Canada.
Henri Masson’s artworks are found in a great number of private and public collections, both in Canada and abroad (United States, Venezuela, Chile, Israel, etc.)
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