Encyclopedia of the Great Plains

David J. Wishart, Editor


The Regina Five were a loose group of abstract painters based in Regina, Saskatchewan, although only three were natives of the Prairies. The members were Ronald Bloore (b. 1925), Ted Godwin (b. 1933), Kenneth Lochhead (b. 1926), Arthur McKay (b. 1926), and Douglas Morton (b. 1926). They took their name from a 1961 exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Canada, Five Painters from Regina. All were associated with the art school at the University of Saskatchewan, Regina Campus, or with its annual artists' workshops at Emma Lake, Saskatchewan. Lochhead, the head of the school, and McKay, an instructor, were instrumental in recruiting important American artists and art critics to lead the summer workshops. Abstract artist Barnett Newman and critic and abstract proponent Clement Greenberg particularly influenced the Regina Five.

The five did not think of themselves as a group and indeed had markedly different styles, although they had certain similarities such as the use of flat, muted color. For the space of roughly three years, from 1961 to 1964, they were considered very avant-garde. Art critics marveled at the fact that they came from the isolated Prairies. Then, in 1964, two of the group left Regina, and Lochhead and McKay had works in Clement Greenberg's badly received Los Angeles show. From that point the group lost its influence, and its members went on to pursue separate careers. At Expo 67 only two of their works were shown–in the section for historic Canadian art.

Donna Bowman University of Regina

Chabun, Will. "'The Regina Five': Art, Politics and History." Regina Leader Post, February 8, 1997: A7.

Five Painters from Regina. Exhibition Catalog. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1961.

Leclerc, Denise. The Crisis of Abstraction in Canada: The 1950s. Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada, 1992.

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