McMichael - Canadian Art | Collection d'art Canadien

Current Exhibitions

Lawren Harris: Leaps and Bounds

Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries

50/50/50: Jack Bush: In Studio; Needles and Pins: Colleen Heslin

Destinations: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Dark Forest

A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterworks

Lawren Harris: Leaps and Bounds


50/50/50
In Studio: Jack Bush

(Galleries 6 and 7)

June 4, 2016 – February 20, 2017
Curator: Sarah Stanners
Presented in Partnership with Esker Foundation, Calgary

The Ontario premiere of Jack Bush: In Studio at the McMichael will be the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in a major public gallery in the vicinity of Toronto since the early 1980s. In the most classic sense, the word studio is defined as “room for study.” This exhibition was conceived as an opportunity to gather 20 select paintings in a new space with the aim to spark study.

Fifteen of the paintings in show were made in a small one-room studio in Bush’s family home in North Toronto. In 1968, after 41 years of working in commercial art studios, and nearly a lifetime of painting at home, a fellow artist offered Bush studio space in downtown Toronto. The remaining five works in the exhibition were painted there, where he would execute most of his very large paintings from 1968 until his death in January 1977.

The most intimate conversations held in the studio were between Jack and his primary subject: colour. The studio was a sounding board for the artist; a place to face dead ends and challenges; a place to test colour and make it sing; a place to both putter and make grand statements; and, most of all, a place to be absorbed in art.

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50/50/50
Needles and Pins: Colleen Heslin

(Galleries 4 and 5)

June 4, 2016 – February 20, 2017
Organized and circulated by Esker Foundation, Calgary
Curator: Naomi Potter

Colleen Heslin’s paintings resonate with the tension of material and gestural complexity. The artist hand-dyes cotton and linen in small batches, and hangs them to dry, which develops residual surface textures. The stained fabric is then cut and pieced together – similar to quilt-making construction. Colour is in constant dialogue; the pure simplicity of isolated colour is central to every painting. Considering formal abstraction and craft-based methods of mark making, Heslin’s work thoroughly explores colour, shape, and texture, while acknowledging the histories of photography and textiles, and finding connections with the Colour Field painters of the 1960s and 1970s. Aspects of her process – specifically dyeing and sewing – are also inextricably linked to domestic labour, feminism, and craft.

These paintings do not immediately reveal how they are made or what they are about, yet each advocates for close and sustained reading. The work seeks the space of open interpretation, positioned between the unfamiliar and the familiar. Chromatic expanses and complex shapes play off each other to create paintings that are narratively ambiguous, yet intensely evocative and poignant.

The McMichael’s presentation of Colleen Heslin: Needles and Pins includes nearly a dozen new works created specifically for our site.

The artist would like to thank the Canada Council for the Arts and the City of Vancouver for supporting the development of this work.

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Destinations: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

September 12, 2016 – April 17, 2017
Curator: Chris Finn

Many of the wilderness landscapes depicted in artworks by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven were interpretations serving as symbols or metaphors of place. However, writers who positioned and promoted Thomson’s and the Group of Seven’s work within a geographical and Canadian nation-building narrative, created a sense of authenticity while aligning their imagery with political as well as commercial interests. This exhibition presents a selection of the artists’ paintings and prints depicting their renderings of the ‘North’, including masterworks such as Mount Robson by Lawren Harris and Byng Inlet, Georgian Bay by Tom Thomson.

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Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Dark Forest

September 23, 2016 – April 17, 2017
Curator: Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

In the landscape art of the Group of Seven, the viewer has been conditioned to recognize the picturesque beauty of the Canadian forest. Fierce, strong, and often unspoiled, it reflected a sense of character for a developing nation. This exhibition, however, presents historical and contemporary art—including those of the Group and their associates—that suggests the forest is no symbol of glory; it is where beauty, mystery, fantasy, and darkness collide.

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A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterworks

(Gallery 1)

Curated by Sarah Stanners

The McMichael owes its existence and collection to the generosity of donors. A Foundation for Fifty Years will present some of the most significant donations made for the McMichael gallery’s founding year, 1966, by Signe and Robert McMichael, as well as their peers, who were all excited to make Canadian masterworks a gift to the public of Ontario. Installed in the McMichael’s principle gallery on the ground floor, this collection of masterworks celebrates our core artists - the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. Artists on show include Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, David Milne, and Emily Carr, to name just a few. The exhibition space has been restored to its 1960s modernist style, in a manner that the McMichaels intended: traditional materials with modern lines. This special exhibition kicks off the 50th anniversary of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Exhibition Micro-site

Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), Canadian Jungle, 1946, oil on canvas, 44.8 x 53.7 cm (17 5/8 x 21 1/8 in.), Gift of the Founders, Robert and Signe McMichael, McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1966.16.107


Lawren Harris: Leaps and Bounds

(Gallery 14)


The leading member of the Group of Seven, Lawren S. Harris has become one of the most recognizable figures in landscape painting in Canada. A lesser known side of Harris’s story is that he spent the second half of his career as an abstract painter.

This exhibition demonstrates the breadth of Harris’s oeuvre using works drawn entirely from the McMichael’s collection, and includes personal photographs of the painter and some of the tools and materials he used to create his masterpieces.



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