Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, Toronto
RCA Medal awarded to Oscar Cahén in 1975.
OSCAR CAHÉN – 1916-1956. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark, his early training was in Denmark, Germany, Prague Paris and London. Cahén’s brilliant success as a graphic artist with the Montreal Star and later with Maclean’s magazine, started a revolution in commercial illustration in Canada which has had wide significance.
But it was also his associations with other artists working in commercial art which drew him originally into the group of artists which came to be known as “Painters Eleven” and by the time Cahén began exhibiting with this group, he had developed a strong and distinctive abstract style very different from the undeveloped expressionist manner he brought with him from Europe.
Most striking are Cahén’s colours, particularly his use of oranges and pinks, intense blues and greens. That these dramatic juxtapositions of colour are now so familiar is but on indication of Cahén’s impact on the sensibilities of some of the younger artists associated with him through Painters Eleven.
"Cahén’s brilliant success as a graphic artist with the Montreal Standard and later with Maclean's Magazine started a revolution in commercial illustration in Canada which has had wide significance.
As a catalyst, Cahén played his greatest personal role. His freshness and freedom, his sophistication, his feeling for speed and change, his financial success, and above all his high professional integrity had a stunning impact on the young artists of drab, post-war Toronto. To the force of his personality can be traced directly much of the dynamism and vitality which is the hallmark of so much significant Toronto painting.
It is fitting, therefore, that the Academy honour Oscar Cahén through the awarding of the 1975 RCA Medal."
John C. Parkin, President
Ray Cattell, Executive Vice President
Ann H.J. Nelles, Executive Director
Royal Canadian Academy of Arts, 1975