Bertram Brooker

Bertram Brooker was born in Croydon, England in 1888 and moved to Portage la Prairie, Manitoba when he was 17 years old. As an artist, writer, musician and advertising executive, Brooker is credited with influencing the development of Canada’s cultural evolution in the early 20th century. Primarily influenced by Winnipeg artist, L.L. Fitzgerald, Brooker’s artistic style encompassed both realism and abstraction, and employed the central thematic devise of a spiritual interpretation of art. Although not formally trained in fine art, Brooker drew upon both his career as an advertiser and philosophical beliefs to inspire his art. He worked for a variety of magazines and newspapers including: Portage Review, The Winnipeg Free Press and “Marketing” magazine in Toronto, where he moved in 1921. He joined the staff of J.J. Gibbons Advertising Agency in 1929 and influenced significant figures in Canadian media theory such as Marshall McLuhan through his writings like “Subconscious Selling” (1923). His novel, “Think of the Earth”, was the first novel to win the Governor General’s award for fiction in 1936. Perhaps best known as a painter, Brooker was the first Canadian artist to exhibit abstract works of art and wrote a syndicated column entitled “the seven arts” from 1928 – 1930, where he analyzed art, theatre, poetry and music. These writings helped give exposure to the Group of Seven, who Brooker first embraced as a new arts movement but later became disenchanted by for their view of a nationally based aesthetic. Brooker was influenced by Futurism, Cubism, and the philosophy of vitalism. He experimented with colour, volume and rhythm in his realist and abstract works. His mystical instincts were as much professional as they were artistic, which makes his artistic works innovative and integral to the development of early modernist Canadian art. Brooker died in Toronto in 1955.

Available artwork: 

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Artist origin: 
Canadian
Artist type: 
Historical works of significance
Born: 
1888
Died: 
1955

 

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