Elliott Louis Gallery Canadian Fine Art

Oscar Cahén


1916-1956
Painter, draughtsman, watercolourist, illustrator, muralist. Oscar Cahen, was born in Copenhagen. He came to Canada in 1940, near Sherbrooke, Quebec. Studied at the Kunstakademie in Dresden and in Paris, Italy, and Stockholm. Taught for a time in Prague in 1938. Freelance illustrator in London, 1938-1939, for Montreal Standard, 1941-1942; employed by Rapid Grip & Batten, Montreal, 1943-1944; art director of Magazine Digest, Toronto, 1944; freelance illustrator, contributing to such magazines as Macleans's, Chatelaine, New Liberty, and Playtime, from 1944.
Cahén was trained in Europe and taught in Prague before escaping the Nazi occupation in 1938. He was interned in England in 1939 and sent to Canada in 1940 as an enemy alien. His artistic contacts in Canada secured his release in 1942, and he worked in Montreal before moving to Toronto in 1944.  In the late 1940s he met Walter Yarwood, Harold Town and others involved in avant-garde art in Toronto and Cahén was included in the Abstracts at Home exhibition held in 1953 at the Robert Simpson Company, Toronto. He joined Painters Eleven when the group was formed later that year. In Canada's conservative art world their early exhibitions were met with disdain. Nevertheless, Painters Eleven attracted U.S. exposure with a successful exhibition, Twentieth Annual Exhibition of American Abstract Artists with "Painters Eleven of Canada in 1956, with the American Abstract Artistsat the Riverside Gallery in New York, and were praised by the influential critic Clement Greenberg on a visit he paid to Toronto in 1957. In the Canadian press, the group's most ardent supporter was art critic Robert Fulford. Cahén was killed in a car accident in 1956 in Oakville, Ontario.




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