Steve Martin shines spotlight on Group of Seven painter

Steve Martin Waren Harris
Photo by Casey Curry/Invision/AP

Steve Martin has been working hard to make sure that Group of Seven painter Lawren Harris is as famous in America as he is in Canada. An avid art collector, Martin has co-curated an exhibit in Los Angeles showcasing Harris’s work.

This retrospective opened this October at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, which attracted Hollywood luminaries such as Julia Roberts, Will Ferrell, and Jane Lynch. Beyond introducing the Canadian artist to the rich and famous, Martin is also credited with helping to stir up interest around the recent sale of three of Harris’s works.

The president of Heffel Fine Art Auction House, who sold the three paintings, told the Huffington Post  that Martin’s exhibit definitely contributed to the paintings going for millions more than expected.

“When [actors] focus attention on a great Canadian artist like Lawren Harris it adds exposure to him on a much broader base, to a new audience.”

The three paintings sold at Heffel for about $9.5 million, shattering pre-sale estimates. While Heffel pointed out that the low Canadian dollar also contributed to the high sales, Martin’s recent exhibit definitely raised the profile of the artist with local buyers.

Heffel also thinks the Hammer exhibit will raise awareness about Harris in the US more generally.

“It’s quite heartwarming to see a great show of Lawren Harris down at the Hammer Museum but (also) to see the reviews generated by that — it was featured in the New York Times, the LA Times and Bloomberg.”

The exhibit, entitled “The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris,” will travel to Boston and Toronto later this year.