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George McLean

George McLean

For more than forty years, George McLean has lived in a stone farmhouse on 100 acres of land in Grey County, Ontario. On his daily walks, he looks for a moment that will inspire him — the first step in a process that can take up to a year to yield a single painting.

McLean's densely layered depictions of the natural world emerge directly from his intense interest in wildlife. In this sumptuous book, Virginia Eichhorn, Adam Duncan Harris, and Tom Smart examine the development of McLean's art and trace his varied influences, from early 20th-century wildlife artists Carl Rungius and Bruno Liljefors to Andrew Wyeth. Connecting with past traditions while resonating with contemporary audiences, McLean's work, along with that of many realists before him, reflects a shared sense of what it means to be North American.

Illustrated with more than 60 colour reproductions, the publication of George McLean: The Living Landscape coincides with the opening of an accompanying international touring exhibition of McLean's work at the Tom Thomson Gallery in Owen Sound.


Virginia Eichhorn is the director and curator of the Tom Thomson Art Gallery. From 2004 to 2009, she was curator of the Canadian Clay & Glass Gallery in Waterloo, Ontario. As an independent curator, she has presented Canadian exhibitions worldwide, including at the XII Biennale of Art at Vila Nova de Cerveira in Portugal. She has written numerous catalogue essays and has contributed to art magazines such as Border Crossings, Canadian Art, and ESPACE Sculpture.

Adam Duncan Harris has been the curator of art at the National Museum of Wildlife Art in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, since 2000. He holds a PhD from the University of Minnesota and is the author of Wildlife in American Art: Masterworks from the National Museum of Wildlife Art, published by the University of Oklahoma Press.

Tom Smart is the executive director and CEO of the McMichael Canadian Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario, and the president of the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. For seven years he was director of collections and exhibitions at the Frick Art & Historical Center, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he developed an ambitious international exhibition program, and at the same time, he was appointed a Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh. He served as acting director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 1997 until 1999 and was curator of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, from 1989 to 1997. Smart is the author of nine books and catalogues. His most recent book is the critically acclaimed Alex Colville: Return, which moved criticism of Colville's works to a new intellectual level. His 1995 book The Art of Mary Pratt: The Substance of Light won the Atlantic Provinces Booksellers Association Booksellers Choice Award, the Studio Magazine Award of Merit, and the Printing Industries of America Award of Merit. It was included in Great Canadian Books of the Century.

"With subtlety and grace, George McLean captures singular moments in the lives of animals. Each work is built upon a foundation of artistic skill, consummate design sensibility, and an abiding appreciation for wildlife and natural habitat. Not one to shy away from the reality of life in the animal world, McLean often depicts his subjects at the peak of physical exertion, in mid-chase, life and death hanging in the balance... McLean's vibrant, complex paintings reveal the forces of nature, small and mighty, that shape the existence of the creatures with whom we share this planet." — Adam Duncan Harris

160 pages
Pub date: October 29, 2010