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Artists as Writers: Genre: Letters

Genre: Letters

This section contains letters that artists have written. This includes personal letters to friends and family, and public letters that were written to newspapers or other publications.

Artists on this page:

Paul-Émile Borduas: Autobiography, Letters and Journals


Projections Libérantes. Saint-Hilaire, Montreal: Mythra Mythe, 1949. Available at OCADU Library.
An autobiographical pamphlet that details Borduas' experiences that led up to the writing of Refus Global. Also included in Écrits I (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1987, p. 393-479


Letters and Journals

Fonds Paul-Émile Borduas at the Musée d'Art Contemporain de Montréal,
Personal papers & original copies of written works (archives, unpublished).

"Paul-Emile Borduas and Modernism: 'I Hate All Nationalisms.'" François-Marc Gagnon. Artscanada 36.4 (Dec-Jan 1979-1980): 15-18.
Gagnon uses Borduas letters & documents that reveal Borduas' anarchistic stance and dislike of nationalism in art

Journal: 1929-1930. Fonds Borduas du Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal, T. 34
Also included in Écrits II: Journal, Correspondance, 1923-1953, T. 1 (Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1997, p. 41-96).

"Lettre à Claude Gauvreau." Liberté 3.1 (1961): 430-33.
A letter from Borduas to Gauvreau 25 Sep 1954

"Lettres à Claude Gauvreau." Liberté 4.22 (Apr 1962): 230-51.
Letters Borduas wrote to Gauvreau between 1952-59 about exhibitions, artists, and art theory (in French)

"Communication intime à mes chers amis." La Presse, 12 Juiy 1969, p. 24.
included in Écrits I (Les Presses de l’Université de Montréal, 1987, p. 503-515.

"Les Automatistes." Barre du jour 17-20 (Jan-Aug 1969): 1-389.
A special edition of La Barre du jour includes an ensemble of automatistes writings. It includes Projections libérantes by Borduas & 2 letters from Borduas to Jean-Jules Richard (n.d.) and to Claude Gauvreau (1954)

Écrits II: Journal, Correspondance, 1923-1953, T. 1. Ed. Andre-G. Bourrassa & Gilles Lapointe. Montreal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1997.

Écrits II: Correspondance, 1954-1960, T. 2. Ed. Andre-G. Bourrassa & Gilles Lapointe. Montreal: Presses de l'Université de Montréal, 1997.

Emily Carr: Letters and Journals


"A Canadian Drama." Carr, Emily, Ottawa Citizen, 14 Dec. 1945.
A letter to Eric Brown, 1 Nov. 1927.

M.E.; A Portrayal of Emily Carr. Edythe Hembroff-Schleicher. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1969. Available at OCADU Library.

"Letters from Emily Carr." Blissett, W.F., ed. University of Toronto Quarterly 41.2 (Winter 1972): 93-150. Available at OCADU Library.
A reprint of 44 letters written by Carr to Ruth Humphrey from 1937-1944.

Dear Nan: Letters of Emily Carr, Nan Cheney and Humphrey Toms. Doreen Walker, ed. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1990. Available at OCADU Library (eBook).

"Emily Carr Letter to Maud and Eric Brown [11 Aug 1928]." in Emily Carr, ed. Judith Mastai. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Gallery, 1992: 6-8. Available at OCADU Library.

"Letters to John Davis Hatch, 1939-43." in The Verbal and the Visual, ed. Judith Mastai, Hanif Han Mohamed, and John O'Brian, special issue, Collapse: The View From Here, no. 2. Vancouver: Vancouver Art Forum Society, 1996: 71-77.

Opposite Contraries: The Unknown Journals of Emily Carr and Other Writings. Susan Crean, ed. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2003, 2004. Available at OCADU Library.
A publication of diaries & letters.

Corresponding Influence: Selected Letters of Emily Carr and Ira Dilworth. Linda M. Morra, ed. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2006, 2008. Available at OCADU Library.



Pause: A Sketch Book. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1953. Available at OCADU Library.
Sketches, drawings, verses about Carr's 18-month stay in an English sanitorium after she became ill while studying art at London's Westminster School in 1902.

Hundreds and Thousands: The Journals of Emily Carr. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin, 1966. Available at OCADU Library.

Opposite Contraries: The Unknown Journals of Emily Carr and Other Writings. Susan Crean, ed. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2003, 2004. Available at OCADU Library.
A publication of diaries & letters.

A.Y. Jackson: Letters

Letters (correspondence)

Jackson's correspondence can be found in the following monographs:

The Group of Seven: Art for a Nation. By Charles C. Hill. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1995.
Includes correspondence between Jackson & other Group of Seven members, eg. A.Y. Jackson, Shoreham, England to J.E.H. MacDonald, Toronto, August 4, 1917.

Anne Savage: The Story of a Canadian Painter. By Anne McDougall. Montreal: Harvest House, 1977.
Includes correspondence between Jackson & Savage

A.Y.'s Canada.Drawings by A.Y. Jackson with text by Naomi Jackson Groves. Toronto: Clarke, Irwin & Co., 1968.
Includes selection of Jackson's letters to Naomi (his niece) and others, as noted by Naomi in the book

Works By A.Y. Jackson from the 1930s. By Naomi Jackson Groves. Ottawa, ON: Carleton University Press, 1990.
Includes quotes from Jackson's letters to various people


Letters to the Editor

"Who Committed the Spring Exhibition (letter to the editor)."  Montreal Daily Herald, 27 May 1912.

"Canadian and Foreign Art (letter to the editor)."  signed as Canadian Artist. Toronto Globe, 31 May 1919, p. 6.

"Light on Enlistments (letter to the editor)." Toronto News, 28 Feb 1942.

"The Septuagenarian and Art (letter to the editor)." Montreal Gazette, 8 Dec. 1922.

"Is the National Gallery a National Reproach? (letter to the editor)" Written with R.F. Gagen and P.H. Robson. Toronto Mail and Empire, 19 Dec 1922.

"An Artist's Reply to Critic (letter to the editor)." Ottawa Citizen, 21 Dec 1922.

"Canadian Art at Wembley (letter to the editor)." Signed as Rose Madder. Toronto Daily Star, 23 May 1924.

"Montreal Pictures in Toronto (letter to the editor)." Montreal Gazette, 22 Feb 1926, p. 12.

"Those Pictures: More Opinions (letter to the editor)." Ottawa Journal, 20 Mar 1926.

"Canadian Art Has Received Well-Earned Commendation: Are 'Old Material' (letter to the editor)." Toronto Daily Star, 29 Nov 1926.

"As to Certain Myths (letter to the editor)." Ottawa Morning Journal, 10 Feb 1927.

"Canadian Artist Honored (letter to the editor)." Signed Maple Leaf. Toronto Daily Star, 5 May 1927.

"Mr. Jackson Objects (letter to the editor)."  Toronto Star, [?] Sep 1927.

"Mr. Russell and Other Artists (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 8 Nov 1927.

"Timid Souls! (letter to the editor)." Gossip, Toronto, 5 Mar 1928.

"The Emigrant's Stone (letter to the editor)." Canadian Forum 9.100 (Jan 1929): 143.

"Fifty Immortal Painters (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 15 July 1930.

"Art Criticism (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, [?] Jan 1931.

"Wild Art in Mild West (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 14 July 1932.

"What's Wrong with the Academic Painter? (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 16 Dec 1932.

"More Art Experts (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 2 Jan 1933.

"Why Always the Group of Seven? (letter to the editor)." Toronto Mail and Empire, 6 Feb 1933.

"What are Finns? (letter to the editor)." Signed as A. Y. Toronto News,13 Sep 1941.

"Try, Try Again (letter to the editor)." Signed as A.J. Toronto News, 5 Sep 1942.

"Survival (letter to the editor)." Signed as A.J. Toronto News, 26 Sep 1942.

"Choose Your Immigrant (letter to the editor)." Signed as Another Veteran. Toronto News, 18 Dec 1943.


Archival Letters

While our database is currently indexing only published materials, Jackson was a prolific letter writer and his long, descriptive letters found in archives contain much information regarding his contemporaries' and his own activities, as well as give insight into Jackson's personal reflections on artistic events of the day. Therefore, in addition to the monographs listed above in which Jackson's letters can be found, the following summary compiled by Dennis Reid in Alberta Rhythm: The Later Work of A.Y. Jackson with some additional information regarding Jackson's letters which are found in archives is included below.

  • Archives of the Nat'l Gallery of Canada have correspondence between Jackson & various officers (Eric Brown, H.O. McCurry, Dr. James MacCallum, Sarah Robertson, Prudence Heward & others)
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has several letters about exhibitions of Jackson's work & correspondence with Arthur Lismer
  • The Reference Library of the Art Gallery of Ontario has correspondence from Martin Baldwin, Albert Laberge, Charles McFaddin, William Colgate & chronologies of activities & lists of paintings compiled by Jackson
  • The Social and Cultural Archives and Manuscript Division of the Public Archives of Canada has numerous collections that contain materials pertaining to Jackson including personal papers of Arthur Copeland, Dorothy Dyde, Lawren & Bess Harris, C.A.G. Matthews, Charles Comfort, J.E.H. and Thoreau MacDonald Collections, B.T. Richardson, and the minute books of the Royal Canadian Academy (for information about Jackson's involvement with the organization)
  • Federal Archives' Northern Affairs Programme has material related to Jackson's activities between 1927 and 1951.
  • Federal Archives' Department of  Militia and Defence has material relating to Jackson as a Canadian War Artist
  • Department of National Defence has materials related to Canadian War Memorials
  • Canadiana Collection of the North York Public Library's Newton MacTavish papers & Archives of the Arts and Letters Club in Toronto for Jackson correspondence
  • McMichael Canadian Collection at Kleinburg for original typescripts of articles & speeches by Jackson, his own collection of annotated exhibition catalogues, and correspondence between Jackson and J.E.H. MacDonald, Norma McClellan, Arthur Jackson, Prudence Heward, Robert & Signe McMichael, and letters to Arthur Lismer 1930s-1940s in which Jackson dicsusses events like travels to NWT & Alberta
  • McCord Museum of Canadian History, P116 Clarence Gagnon Fonds holds correspondence between Jackson and Clarence A. Gagnon
  • Anne Savage fonds, Concordia University holds correspondence between Jackson and Anne Savage 

Micheal Snow: Other Writing: Scripts, letters, and more

Michael Snow: works 1969-1978, films 1964-1976 by Snow, Michael; Kunz, Martin. Kuntzmuseum Luzern, 1979. Available at OCADU Library.

The Collected Writings of Michael Snow by Michael Snow; Louise Dompierre. The Michael Snow Project, 1994. Available at OCADU Library.

Michael Snow Archival Fonds at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Includes correspondence (letters), notes about his artwork, and more.