Bertram Brooker

Born in Croydon , England 1888
Died in Toronto, Ontario 1955

A charter member of the Canadian Group of Painters, Brooker was and is considered a brilliant innovator. Over his career he painted in a diverse range of styles – from realism to abstract interpretations on the spirituality of nature and of music. Kandinsky's "Concerning the Spiritual in Art" served as an inspiration to Brooker both as to the importance of artists learning to express their inner soul, and on the mystic relationship between beauty, truth, and God.

This philosophy did not preclude Brooker from an acute understanding of the pragmatic demands on an artist. Working in advertising as both an illustrator and later as a marketing executive, Brooker initiated a series of influential stratagems on how to use advertisements to stimulate the subconscious of the buyer into action, stratagems that later where echoed by Marshall McLuhan.

Brooker was also known for his writing, music, and poetry and his involvement in the theater, both as an amateur actor and as a playwright. In 1936 he won the Governor General's Award for fiction with his novel "Think of the Earth". He also wrote a syndicated column on the "Seven Arts" that concentrated on the uniqueness of the Canadian cultural scene. Between his writings and his artistic output, Brooker was influential in helping to shape the vision of Canadian artists in the 1920s and '30s and '40s.

However, it was not until after his death that Brookner's artistic works became well known. In 1973 the National Art Gallery of Canada toured Brooker's paintings throughout Canada for the first time. Today his paintings are displayed in several art galleries in Canada; as well, the University of Manitoba houses an extensive archive of his writings, photography, music, and works of art.