Alfred Joseph Casson
(1898 - 1992) PRCA, OSA, CSPW, CGP
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A.J. Casson Biography
(1898 - 1992) PRCA, OSA, CSPW, CGP
When the young A.J. Casson first took a position as design assistant to Franklin Carmichael at the firm of Rous and Mann, he could not have known the remarkable direction his career would take. The demanding but affable Carmichael became a friend, mentor and sketching companion. In fact, it was Carmichael who introduced Alfred Casson to members of the Group of Seven at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club. The dedicated artist began to exhibit with the Group and became a natural successor to Frank Johnston when he left to pursue other interests.
In his depiction of the more settled areas of southern Ontario, A.J. Casson was deliberately seeking out subject matter that set his work apart from the preferred material of other Group of Seven members. Alfred Casson’s strong design background shaped a unique painting style, characterized by graceful lines and carefully considered compositions. With the passing of time his style underwent a subtle change in which pattern became an essential element in his work.
In addition to his dedication to excellence in his own work, A.J. Casson was instrumental in the formation of important Canadian art organizations such as the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour, the Canadian Group of Painters and the WWII War Artists Program. There can be no doubt that over a long career, which spanned much of the twentieth century, Alfred Joseph Casson left an indelible mark on the Canadian art landscape.
1898 Alfred Joseph Casson born in Toronto
1912 Studies at Hamilton Technical School under John S. Gordon
1913 Apprenticeship at the Laidlaw Lithography Company in Hamilton, Ont.
1914 Apprenticeship at Commercial Engravers Company
1915 Freelance designer
1915-1917 Studies at Toronto Central Technical College under Alfred Howell
1918-1921 Studies at the Ontario College of Art under J.W. Beatty
1919-1926 Assistant Designer to Franklin Carmichael at the design firm of Rous and Mann Ltd.
1920 Carmichael introduces Casson to Group of Seven members at Toronto’s Arts and Letters Club
1921 Exhibits for the first time with the Ontario Society of Artists; accompanies Carmichael on an extended painting trip to Rosseau Lake in the Muskoka district
1922 Exhibits for the first time with the Group of Seven
1923 “Clearing”, is purchased by the National Gallery of Canada; becomes a member of the Ontario Society of Artists
1925 Founding member of the Canadian Society of Painters in Watercolour together with Franklin Carmichael and F.H. Brigden
1926 Becomes a member of the Group of Seven upon the departure of Frank Johnston; accompanies Franklin Carmichael to the design firm of Sampson-Matthews; becomes an associate member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; buys a car and begins to explore the small villages and hamlets of Southern Ontario
1926-1930 Sketches in the regions of Haliburton and Lake Superior
1928 Sketching trip to Lake Superior with A.Y. Jackson, Lawren Harris and Franklin Carmichael
1933 Co-founds the Canadian Group of Painters after the dissolution of the Group of Seven, following the death of J.E.H. MacDonald
1936 Anglican Church at Magnetawan is purchased by the National Gallery of Canada
1939 Becomes a full member of the RCA
1939-1945 Appointed as a member of Canada’s War Records Committee; helps to establish the WWII War Artists Program
1940 Elected President of the Ontario Society of Artists
1942 Appointed Art Director of Sampson-Matthews
1946 Appointed Vice-President of Sampson-Matthews
1949 Publishes “The Possibilities of Silk Screen Reproduction” in Canadian Art magazine
1948 Elected President of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts; receives the Province of Ontario Award
1954 Awarded the Gold Medal for Excellence in Canadian Advertising
1955-1959 Appointed Vice-President of the Art Gallery of Ontario
1957 Retires from Sampson-Matthews in order to pursue painting on a full-time basis; awarded Gold Medal from the University of Alberta
1967 Awarded Canada’s Silver Centennial Medal
1970 Awarded the Royal Canadian Academy Medal; conferred with an Honourary LL.D. from the University of Western Ontario
1971 Conferred with an Honourary Degree from the University of Saskatchewan
1973 Becomes a Fellow of the Ontario College of Art; awarded the City of Toronto Award of Merit for distinguished public service
1975 Conferred with an Honourary LL.D. from the University of Toronto
1977 Awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Silver Jubilee Medal
1979 Awarded the Order of Canada
1980 Conferred with an D.F.A. from Mount Allison University
1982 Conferred with an Honourary LL.D. from McMaster University
1991 Awarded the Order of Ontario
1992 Dies in Toronto at the age of 93