Emily visits the coastal villages each year from 1908 to 1910 and realizes watercolors according to the good practice of the explorers. She takes her drawings with her for a training trip to France where she is in relationship for two years with the modern artists.
She is immediately interested in Fauvism, appreciated by her as an opportunity for an artist to interpret a scene in his or her own way, according to his or her own vision and temperament. She reinterprets her American watercolors into oils on canvas.
Emily's visits had included 'Yalis (in English: Alert Bay), a traditional despite recently created village. The Kwakwaka'wakw people often referred to with the less unpronounceable Kwakiutl name use some technological advances brought by white settlers while maintaining the traditional autonomy increasingly threatened by the growing progress of communications. The tallest totem pole in the world, 53 meters high, is currently in Alert Bay.
On November 23 in Toronto, Heffel sells an oil on canvas 65 x 47 cm painted by Emily Carr just before or just after her return to British Columbia in 1912, lot 261 estimated CAD $ 900K shown on the last page in the flyer announcing the sale.
The influence of Fauvism provides the additional mystical dimension desired by the artist. Compared with the watercolor that served as its model the line is simplified. The unreal colors express the sunshine flooding the street and turn into a ghost divinity the deliberately enlarged welcoming figure in the foreground.
High totem poles are frontally aligned before the facades of the white houses. The nearest pole has near its base a huge protruding head of a thunderbird with closed beak. We know through the essay by the auctioneer that a mechanism opening the beak offers an access inside the house. Only one visitor at a time could cross that ramp, for security : the Kwakiutl chiefs certainly had good reasons to be wary.
SOLD for $ 1.06M CAD including premium