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CAHÉN, Oscar (1901-1967)
Recent auction results 26-05-11 Untiled 29.8 x 40 $27,917 USD 28-11-13 Growth 37 x 25.7 $27,219 USD 28-11-11 Abstraction 36 x 24 $18,983 USD
Oscar Cahén was the son of Fritz Max Cahén, a well known political activist. Oscar Cahén was trained in Europe at the Dresden Kunstakademie circa 1930-1934. In 1938 he taught in Prague at the Rotter-Schule für Werbegrafik before escaping the Nazi occupation by traveling to England in 1939. Considered "German" by the English, he was interned in and sent to Canada in 1940 as an enemy alien with other Germans of Jewish descent. His artistic contacts in Canada secured his release in October, 1942, and he worked in Montréal at advertising firm Rapid, Grip and Batten before moving to Toronto in late 1944 to become art editor for Magazine Digest. Cahén subsequently worked as a freelance illustrator for magazines such as Maclean's, Chatelaine and New Liberty.
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 Artists at 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 and the group formally disbanded in 1960.