McMichael - Canadian Art | Collection d'art Canadien

Current Exhibitions

Field Trip: Sarah Anne Johnson
Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterworks

Legends: Norval Morrisseau and Anishinabek "Woodland School" Artists

Reframing Canadian Art: Jessie Oonark

Reframing Canadian Art: Norval Morrisseau

Field Trip: Sarah Anne Johnson,Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival
(Galleries 8 and 9)

March 5 – Extended to September 5, 2016

As a Primary Exhibition partner with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, the McMichael’s exhibition Field Trip: Sarah Anne Johnson shows the artist’s latest project about Canada’s outdoor music festivals. Johnson sees these festivals as a forum for a community of people coming together to create a modern day Dionysian celebration through a connection to nature, music and dance, and the rejection of social norms.

Canadian artist Sarah Anne Johnson (born in 1976) lives and works in Winnipeg. While her work is primarily photo-based, she also employs a full range of media including painting, sculpture and performance where she addresses issues that are environmental, social and personal. Johnson received her MFA from Yale University and a BFA from the University of Manitoba. Her work is featured in numerous public collections including the Guggenheim Museum in New York, The Phillips Collection in Washington, DC, the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario, each of which has extensive holdings of her work. She has also received recent commissions from Louis Vuitton, the Winnipeg Art Gallery, and the Bank of Montreal, and was a finalist for the Sobey Art Award in 2015.

Read more about this exhibition

Sarah Anne Johnson, Pink Forest, 2015, photoshopped chromogenic print, 28 x 42
Courtesy Stephen Bulger Gallery, Toronto; Galerie Division, Montreal; Julie Saul Gallery, New York

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

Reframing Canadian Art: Jessie Oonark

(Gallery 12)

Renowned artist Jessie Oonark (1906–1985) was born in the Back River area north of Qamani’tuaq (Baker Lake). Oonark and her family led a nomadic existence as did other Inuit who depended on hunting and fishing for survival. After moving into the developing community of Qamani’tuaq in the 1950s, Oonark was encouraged to make drawings which were at times playful reinterpretations of life in the North. Her earliest works attracted the attention of James Houston, founder of the print program at Cape Dorset on Baffin Island. Prints made from Oonark’s drawings were included in the second and third annual print releases from the Cape Dorset workshop. Oonark achieved international recognition for her drawings, prints and wall hangings.

Following their recent major gift of contemporary Northwest Coast artworks to the McMichael, Jamie Cameron and Christopher Bredt have donated 189 Baker Lake drawings, collages and prints from their extensive collection of Inuit art. This generous gift effectively allows the McMichael to reframe the work of Jessie Oonark – as no fewer than 50 works by the artist stem from this new gift, providing an extensive new context for the wall hangings and other works on paper from our existing collection.

Image: Jessie Oonark (1906 - 1985), wall hanging, Untitled, c. 1972, felt with embroidery thread, thread, 203 x 152 cm, Gift of Vincent Tovell, Object number: 1990.4

Reframing Canadian Art: Norval Morrisseau

(Gallery 14)

Shaman and Disciples by Norval MorrisseauNorval Morrisseau’s passion for visual storytelling led him to develop a pictorial vocabulary, which transformed the traditional readings of the teachings and stories of the Anishinaabe people, and enabled him to express his own spiritual voice.

The artist’s imagery drew inspiration from renderings transcribed on rock as petroglyphs and pictographs, or hand-drawn on birch bark scrolls by ancestors. Morrisseau sought to reinterpret the cultural and spiritual narratives of his heritage by exploring various means of invoking a state of transcendence. The artist’s work also presents references to Christianity as well as Eckankar, a contemporary belief system.

The use of acrylic paint, canvas and paper marked a shift towards European-influenced art traditions. Morrisseau’s acrylic paintings demonstrate an intuitive use of bright, pure colour, where dark lines delineate figures within figures. Some of Morrisseau’s symbolic representations are suggestive of an inner power, while others express an inherent spirituality. These vibrantly coloured images offer compelling chronicles of an individual connected to a broad-based cultural core.

Morrisseau’s paintings have traditionally been shown in the far, long gallery (#8) here at the McMichael. With this reinstallation, we aim to reframe the way we see even the most familiar works from our permanent collection. Display space can act as a frame and therefore influences the way in which we look at art.

Image: Norval Morrisseau (1931-2007), Shaman and Disciples, 1979, acrylic on canvas
180.5 x 211.5 cm, Purchase 1979, McMichael Canadian Art Collection, 1979.34.7

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