In the mid-1950s, Oscar Cahén was a leading Canadian magazine illustrator and abstract painter, as well as a member of the Painters Eleven collective. In the space of just four years (1953–56), Cahén participated in no less than forty-three art shows, including a solo show at Hart House in 1954, cementing his place in the history of Canadian art. His work was also included in an exhibition representing Canada in the second São Paulo Biennale, Brazil, in 1953–54. In 1956, he was invited to complete a cycle of murals for the new, landmark Imperial Oil building in Toronto, a project he completed shortly before his death, on November 26, 1956, in a car accident. Cahén was 40.