Barker Fairley

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Barker Fairley
The Group of Seven with Barker Fairley (fourth from left), Arts and Letters Club, Toronto, 1920.
Born(1887-05-21)May 21, 1887
Barnsley, Yorkshire, England
DiedOctober 11, 1986(1986-10-11) (aged 99)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Barker Fairley, OC (May 21, 1887 October 11, 1986) was a British-Canadian painter, and scholar who made a significant contribution to the study of German literature, particularly for the work of Goethe.

Order of Canada Canadian national order

The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order and the second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is the personal gift of Canada's monarch.

Painting Practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a surface

Painting is the practice of applying paint, pigment, color or other medium to a solid surface. The medium is commonly applied to the base with a brush, but other implements, such as knives, sponges, and airbrushes, can be used. The final work is also called a painting.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 18th/19th-century German writer, artist, and politician

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was a German writer and statesman. His works include: four novels; epic and lyric poetry; prose and verse dramas; memoirs; an autobiography; literary and aesthetic criticism; and treatises on botany, anatomy, and colour. In addition, numerous literary and scientific fragments, more than 10,000 letters, and nearly 3,000 drawings by him have survived.


Life and work

Although educated and brought up in a strong European tradition and background, Fairley's important life's scholarship in German literature and art criticism was done in Canada and was about Canadian art and Canadian culture. His perspective and writings strongly influenced a burgeoning academic and artistic culture in his new chosen home.

German literature literature written in the German language

German literature comprises those literary texts written in the German language. This includes literature written in Germany, Austria, the German parts of Switzerland and Belgium, Liechtenstein, South Tyrol in Italy and to a lesser extent works of the German diaspora. German literature of the modern period is mostly in Standard German, but there are some currents of literature influenced to a greater or lesser degree by dialects.

Art criticism literary form

Art criticism is the discussion or evaluation of visual art. Art critics usually criticize art in the context of aesthetics or the theory of beauty. A goal of art criticism is the pursuit of a rational basis for art appreciation but it is questionable whether such criticism can transcend prevailing socio-political circumstances.

He was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire and died, a Canadian citizen, in his home in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Barnsley town in South Yorkshire, England

Barnsley is a town in South Yorkshire, England, located halfway between Leeds and Sheffield. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the town centre lies on the west bank of the Dearne Valley. Barnsley is surrounded by several smaller settlements which together form the Metropolitan Borough of Barnsley, of which Barnsley is the largest and its administrative centre. At the 2011 Census, Barnsley had a population of 91,297.

Yorkshire Historic county of Northern England

Yorkshire, formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Canadians citizens of Canada

Canadians are people identified with the country of Canada. This connection may be residential, legal, historical or cultural. For most Canadians, many of these connections exist and are collectively the source of their being Canadian.

He was educated at Leeds, and in 1907 was granted a Ph.D. from Jena University in Germany. His first academic appointment was at Jena. Between 1910-15, he joined the faculty at the newly founded University of Alberta in Edmonton. He joined the University of Toronto's German department in 1915 where he taught until the end of his career as a professor.

Leeds City in England

Leeds is a city in the United Kingdom, located in the county of West Yorkshire in Northern England, approximately 170 miles north of central London. Leeds has one of the most diverse economies of all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city. It also has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is ranked as a High Sufficiency level city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by five universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.

Doctor of Philosophy Postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities in many countries

A Doctor of Philosophy is the highest university degree that is conferred after a course of study by universities in most countries. PhDs are awarded for programs across the whole breadth of academic fields. As an earned research degree, those studying for a PhD are usually required to produce original research that expands the boundaries of knowledge, normally in the form of a thesis or dissertation, and defend their work against experts in the field. The completion of a PhD is often a requirement for employment as a university professor, researcher, or scientist in many fields. Individuals who have earned a Doctor of Philosophy degree may, in many jurisdictions, use the title Doctor or, in non-English-speaking countries, variants such as "Dr. phil." with their name, although the proper etiquette associated with this usage may also be subject to the professional ethics of their own scholarly field, culture, or society. Those who teach at universities or work in academic, educational, or research fields are usually addressed by this title "professionally and socially in a salutation or conversation." Alternatively, holders may use post-nominal letters such as "Ph.D.", "PhD", or "DPhil". It is, however, considered incorrect to use both the title and post-nominals at the same time.

Germany Federal parliamentary republic in central-western Europe

Germany, officially the Federal Republic of Germany, is a country in Central and Western Europe, lying between the Baltic and North Seas to the north and the Alps, Lake Constance, and the High Rhine to the south. It borders Denmark to the north, Poland and the Czech Republic to the east, Austria and Switzerland to the south, France to the southwest, and Luxembourg, Belgium, and the Netherlands to the west.

In 1949, he was invited to Bryn Mawr College to deliver lectures on the German poet Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, but was barred entry by the U.S. Department of Justice. He later compiled the texts of the abortive lectures into six essays on Faust . [1]

Bryn Mawr College Historically womens liberal arts college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, US

Bryn Mawr College is a women's liberal arts college in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Founded as a Quaker institution in 1885, Bryn Mawr is one of the Seven Sister colleges and the Tri-College Consortium. The college has an enrollment of about 1,350 undergraduate students and 450 graduate students.

United States Department of Justice U.S. federal executive department in charge of law enforcement

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the United States government, responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration, and administers several federal law enforcement agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). The department is responsible for investigating instances of financial fraud, representing the United States government in legal matters, and running the federal prison system. The department is also responsible for reviewing the conduct of local law enforcement as directed by the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994.

Goethes <i>Faust</i> play by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Faust is a tragic play in two parts by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, usually known in English as Faust, Part One and Faust, Part Two. Although rarely staged in its entirety, it is the play with the largest audience numbers on German-language stages. Faust is considered by many to be Goethe's magnum opus and the greatest work of German literature.

In 1978, he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada for his "unique contribution to Canadian scholarship".

Barker Fairley spent almost all of his professional artistic life in Ontario, where he was also mentor and teacher to Charles Meanwell and Vincent Thomas. Many of his paintings are still owned by the University of Toronto and are in the Hart House collection. In his use of colour and form, the effect of the Group of Seven is quite evident. His critical approach and activism regarding The Group of Seven contributed to their acceptance in Canadian Art, and that his scholaristic influence over University College at the University of Toronto left a strong and lasting impression.

His first wife, Margaret Fairley, was a notable Canadian political activist. His daughter Ann (Fairley) Schabas was dean of the Faculty of Library and Information Science at the University of Toronto. Her husband is musician Ezra Schabas, former dean of the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. Barker Fairley's grandchildren include academics William Schabas, Margaret Schabas, and lawyer Paul Schabas.


Ought not the painting of humanity ... draw ahead of the landscape, ... take priority over it? Ought it not do so in any age and especially in this age of intense human conflict and suffering and innovation? There is everything in the world about us, the world of today, to suggest that the luxury of dwelling on empty landscapes is likely to recede in men's minds and the urgent human issues to assert themselves with growing force.

"Canadian Art: Man vs. Landscape" The Canadian Forum December 1939

What is needed then ... is to set the whole subject matter of art free and not just the landscape part of it. It is the human subject, the human face, the human figure whether alone or in groups or in crowds, in town and country, in war in peace, in life and death, that is the real and central subject of art ....

"What is Wrong with Canadian Art" Canadian Art magazine, Autumn 1948

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  1. Fairley, Barker, Goethe's Faust: Six Essays (London: Oxford University Press, 1953)
  2. "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Archived from the original on May 26, 2011. Retrieved 11 September 2013.