Alexandra Luke (Canadian, 1901 - 1967); Encounter; 1959; oil on masonite; Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. R. S. McLaughlin, 1971

Painters Eleven

In 1952, Alexandra Luke organized an exhibition of abstract Canadian art that opened in Oshawa at Adelaide House in October. The collection had the distinction of being the first exhibition of abstract painting to be assembled in Canada, by Canadian artists, on a national scale and devoted exclusively to this art form.

Soon after, Simpson's Department store in Toronto sponsored an exhibition of abstract and non-objective paintings under the title Abstracts at Home. Seven artists participated in this: Jack Bush, Oscar Cahén, Tom Hodgson, Alexandra Luke, Ray Mead, Kazuo Nakamura, and William Ronald.

As a result of the Abstracts at Home exhibition, the seven artists came together and discussed the possibility of showing their work as a group. They held their first meeting at Alexandra Luke's lakeside studio in Oshawa, and also invited Jock Macdonald, Harold Town, Walter Yarwood, and Hortense Gordon. It was there that the eleven artists decided to call themselves 'Painters Eleven'. They held their first exhibition under that name in February of 1954 at the Roberts Gallery in Toronto.

The RMG proudly holds Canada's largest collection of works by Painters Eleven, primarily as a result of significant donations to the permanent collection by Alexandra Luke. At least eleven of these works are on display at all times in our Painters Eleven gallery.