Michael Snow
Clothed Woman (In Memory of my Father) 1963
oil and lucite on canvas
152 x 386.2 cm
Purchased 1966
National Gallery of Canada

Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie October 6, 2010 – January 9, 2011

Ottawa - October 6, 2010

Major retrospective exhibition explores the mastery of Moshe Safdie and a lifetime of international architectural achievements.

Architectural visionary, successful entrepreneur and humanist are all words that describe one of Canada’s most renowned architects, Moshe Safdie. Opening to the public at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) on October 6, 2010 and on view until January 9, 2011, Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie is the most comprehensive retrospective of his work to date and celebrates over 40 years of his remarkable achievements and contributions to city skylines, civic buildings and personal habitats. Organized by the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas and the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles (both designed by Moshe Safdie), and curated by Donald Albrecht, an independent curator and curator of Architecture and Design at the Museum of the City of New York, this exhibition takes an unprecedented look at Safdie’s work and philosophy. It also illustrates his extraordinary career as a leading architect, urban planner, theorist, educator, and author. After its presentation in Ottawa, Global Citizen will go on tour to Chicago, Los Angeles, and Bentonville, Arkansas.

Global Citizen explores the design and building process of Safdie’s projects in Jerusalem, North America, China, Singapore, and India. The exhibition underscores his deep impact on architectural practices and the realization of his design philosophy.

“Moshe Safdie designed one of the finest museum buildings in the world for Canada’s national collection; one that magnificently ennobles its function,” said NGC Director, Marc Mayer. “The National Gallery of Canada is his first art museum and its exhilarating perspectives go a long way to prepare the visitor for the unique cultural experiences we hope that each one will have. This exhibition travels the world to show us the extraordinary variety of equally intelligent, inventive and meaningful buildings that Safdie has created throughout his brilliant career.”

Global Citizen – a 40-year retrospective
The exhibition guides viewers on a journey from Safdie’s groundbreaking Habitat for Expo ’67 in Montreal to his most recent projects in Asia and the U.S. Divided in five sections, each dedicated to pivotal points in the trajectory of his career, Global Citizen explores Safdie’s structures and the thinking that shapes them through approximately 175 drawings, sketches, videos, photographs and scale models. To further contextualize the architectural and humanist dimensions of Safdie’s work, Global Citizen includes audio and video monitors that parallel the developments of the projects and his career. The exhibition’s concluding section – Habitat of the Future − is an evolutionary reworking of Habitat – Safdie’s radical solution for quality, affordable housing. The culmination of two years of design research, created especially for Global Citizen, Habitat of the Future proposes new design strategies that innovatively address the growing density of global cities – an ever more pressing issue today.

Profoundly influenced by his upbringing in Haifa, Israel, Safdie believes in an economic and collectivist approach to architecture, as well as in integrating nature into his designs to ensure the quality of residential life – Habitat 67 being a classic example. Often monumental but always inviting, many of his civic buildings are characterized by the use of transcendent light, powerful geometry, iconic forms and the expression of cultural identity. These elements are easily recognizable in the National Gallery of Canada, which was one of Safdie’s earliest great communal spaces and is the first permanent home of the nation’s art collection. The Gallery’s design incorporates Canadian contexts through its materials and local elements, such as the Parliamentary Library-inspired, conically-shaped Great Hall, and its relationship with the Ottawa River.

“Through his buildings,” said Albrecht, “Moshe Safdie has been especially adept at realizing the aspirations of a surprisingly diverse group of clients. For them he has created buildings where communities are forged of strangers, memory is enshrined, and identity is created in built form. Few architects have been able to so fully realize their philosophies in practice and in such diversity of project type and geography.” 

Building highlights in the exhibition
Buildings that are highlighted in the exhibition include Safdie’s thesis project at McGill University, the precursor to Habitat, Montreal (1964-1967), which was commissioned by the Canadian government for the upcoming international world fair, Expo ’67, when he was only 29 years old;the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1983-1988), the most significant of Safdie’s projects that helped shape Canada’s identity and the first of several museum buildings; the Mamilla Center, Jerusalem (1972-2010), a 113 310 square meters central business and mixed-use district for which Safdie completed a master plan that includes urban, architectural, and landscape design; The Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (1986-2012), an urban, pedestrian-oriented ensemble in an automobile-centric culture; The Khalsa Heritage Centre, Anandpur Sahib, India (1998-2011), a new museum and cultural center that celebrates 500 years of Sikh heritage; United States Institute of Peace Headquarters, Washington, D.C. (2001-2012), a center comprised of research facilities, a conference center, and a museum dedicated to the theme of peacemaking; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (2005-2011), which seamlessly integrates art, architecture and landscape; and Marina Bay Sands, Singapore, (2006-2010), a high-density, mixed-use integrated resort that unites a 2,560-room hotel, convention center, shopping and dining, theaters, museum, and a casino across the water from Singapore’s Central Business District. 

About Moshe Safdie
Moshe Safdie is a leading architect, urban planner, theorist, educator, and author. Embracing a comprehensive and humane design philosophy, Safdie has been a visionary force in architecture and urban planning and design for over forty years. His work continues to evolve and grow, guided by a strong set of values and without succumbing to current trends. Safdie is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations.

Exhibition Tour
The North American exhibition tour will include:
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (October 6, 2010 – January 9, 2011)
Chicago Cultural Center, Chicago (May 7, 2011 – July 24, 2011)
Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles (Fall 2012, dates to be confirmed)
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas (Summer 2013, dates to be confirmed)

Exhibition Catalogue
A fully illustrated 144-page hardcover catalogue published by Scala Publishers featuring essays by Moshe Safdie, Donald Albrecht, and critic Sarah Williams Goldhagen accompanies this exhibition. It also features 130 colour illustrations with new photography by Gus Powell. At a cost of $38, it is now on sale at the National Gallery of Canada Bookstore or at www.shopngc.ca, the NGC’s online store.

Educational Program
On October 6, 2010 at 12 noon, there will be a unique opportunity to meet and engage with Moshe Safdie and exhibition curator, Donald Albrecht in a Meet the Architect program which is being staged in the Auditorium. Free admission. For more information, visit www.gallery.ca, or call 1.800.990.1985 or 1.800.319.ARTS.

Admission and NGC hours
Tickets are on sale at $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and full-time students, $4 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $18 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Friends of the Gallery. This includes admission to the NGC Collection. Tickets are available by telephone at 613-998-8888 or 1-888-541-8888.

From October 1, 2010 until April 30, 2011 the Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm; Thursday until 8 pm. Closed Mondays.
Note: Thanksgiving Day Monday (October 11, 2010) the Gallery is open from 10 am to 5 pm.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art, including the extensive collection of the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. To do so, it maintains the largest touring art exhibition programme in the world. For more information, visit www.gallery.ca.

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For more information, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada

Claire Schofield
Manager, Communications and Public Relations
National Gallery of Canada