Each year, the Sobey Art Award explores contemporary art practice in Canada, bringing artists greater attention, both at home and on the world stage. This year was no exception. Working in installation, video, sound, painting, sculpture, music, dance and land-based art, the nominees on the 2016 Award shortlist tackle today’s thorny issues — from colonial power to cultural identity, regional development to mass migration, and scientific research to political strife.
Think of a substance, any substance. Chances are that there is a work of art somewhere made with it, or with a similar material. Many artists create with a sense of immediacy, choosing materials appropriate to the project — not necessarily materials that will last. Some artists create complex installations onsite in exhibition spaces that may change, depending on where they are displayed. This can make for excellent art, but often means challenges for conservators. Geoffrey Farmer’s Leaves of Grass is one such work.
The National Gallery is experiencing a kind of renaissance — not the 15th-century kind, but rather the re-birth of its scholarly journal, the National Gallery of Canada Review. The internationally respected periodical is being re-launched this month as an online-only journal. The first issue includes fascinating articles by NGC researchers on diverse subjects, from Peter Paul Rubens’ painting studio and Laurent Amiot’s silver, to Michael Snow’s photo-based work and the archived papers of Fritz Brandtner.
On April 13, 2016, the National Gallery of Canada announced the longlist for the Sobey Art Award. From the conceptual work of artists like Raymond Boisjoly and Derek Sullivan to the perfomance-based work of Meryl McMaster and Lisa Lipton, to artists like Brenda Draney (painting), Jessica Eaton (photography), and Karen Tam (installation) who put a new spin on traditional media, the Sobey Art Award longlist not only serves as something of a who’s who in Canadian contemporary art, but also takes the pulse of current art practices across the country.
In September 1785, when Marie Antoinette’s popularity with the French people was on a dangerous downward slide, Élisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun was summoned to Versailles. The brilliant young painter had already been commissioned to paint several portraits of the queen, posing her alone in various elegant gowns. Now, however, she was asked to create something different: something that would restore Marie Antoinette’s image as a loving mother and guarantor of dynastic continuity.
Whistler, B.C. is known to many as an outdoor haven, famous for its endless ski runs, epic mountain-bike trails and premier golf courses. Now, as the Audain Art Museum opens its doors, the popular resort town, just an hour north of Vancouver, is poised to become an art mecca as well. Built by philanthropists Michael Audain and Yoshiko (Yoshi) Karasawa to house and display their stunning collection of British Columbia art, the museum offers visitors an opportunity to slow down and contemplate the rich culture of the region.
African-American painter, sculptor and performance artist David Hammons rose to prominence in the 1970s by addressing issues including race, sexuality and politics. Like Marcel Duchamp, Hammons also had a fascination with readymades.
As the Sobey Art Foundation seeks to expand its national and international influence, the Sobey Art Award is moving to the National Gallery of Canada. Rob Sobey, Donald’s son and Chair of the Sobey Art Foundation, which funds the Award, explained the move as the “logical next step” in the process of building what has become Canada’s most significant contemporary art prize.
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