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

The National Gallery of Canada unveils its top exhibitions for 2008

Ottawa - March 17, 2008

Exhibitions with rich and diversified content, from the Italian Renaissance to the present day

This year, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) has assembled an exciting and enlightening program for its visitors, including three major consecutive exhibitions starting in June: The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man”, Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer, and Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture. With their original, rich and diversified content, these exhibitions will offer the public different facets of the visual arts – past and present, Canadian and international.

“It is a privilege for us to present these three exhibitions, that were made possible thanks to the many collaborative relationships which we have established on a national and international level,” noted the director of the NGC, Pierre Théberge. “Although they represent very different periods, each of these exhibitions shows how artists questioned the traditions and political context of their times through artistic expression.”

The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man”
The 1930s has been the subject of major thematic exhibitions in Berlin, Vienna, Madrid, and Paris. Most of these have shed light on the political dimension: the relationship between art and state power or artists’ reactions to totalitarianism.  However, the National Gallery of Canada’s exhibition, The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man”, which will be presented in Ottawa by the National Gallery of Canada Foundation from 6 June to 7 September 2008, takes a new look at this important historical era by examining the connection between art and biology.

In the 1930s, biology became a force for change, often destructive, notably in its racist and eugenicist forms that sought to “improve” the human species. During this decade, the opposed concepts of the “degenerate” – or “mentally ill” – artist, as described by the Nazi ideology of the Third Reich, and the “superman” or “new man” became widespread. These ideologies were to have a profound influence on forms of art and representation.

The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man” will bring together more than 200 works – paintings, sculptures, and photographs – by 103 artists from Europe, including Arp, Kandinsky, Ernst, Picasso, Miró, Dalí, Giacometti and Sander, and from North America, including Benton, Wood, Albright, and Evans. The works are grouped together under nine themes: Genesis, Convulsive Beauty, “The Will to Power”, The Making of “The New Man”, Mother Earth, The Appeal of Classicism, “Faces of our Time”, “Crowds and Power”, and The Charnel House.

The works presented in this exhibition come from some of the most prestigious private and public collections in Austria, Canada, the Czech Republic, Germany, Holland, Israel, Mexico, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

“We are pleased to present an exhibition of such historic value and rich content,” emphasized Marie Claire Morin, president and Chief Executive Officer of the NGC Foundation. “It brings together a very large number of international works by renowned artists that are seldom seen together in North America.”

The organizing committee is chaired by the director of the National Gallery of Canada, Pierre Théberge. Its members comprise the following curators: Jean Clair, retired director of the Musée Picasso in Paris; Didier Ottinger, of the Centre Georges Pompidou; Constance Naubert-Riser, professor emeritus, Université de Montréal; Ann Thomas, the NGC’s Curator of Photography and the NGC’s director of National Outreach and International Relations, Mayo Graham, who acts as the committee’s coordinator.

Activities for Adults – The 1930s: The Making of “The New Man”
Starting in early May, the public is invited to attend a series of lectures on the history and culture of the 1930s that will deal with the context within which the artists created their works. Among the invited speakers are: Jean Clair, curator of the exhibition; Garland Allen, expert on eugenics, history, and philosophy of biology from Washington University; Constance Naubert-Riser, co-curator of the exhibition and professor emeritus of the University of Montreal; Rosemarie Schade, historian of the German feminist movement prior to 1940, from Concordia University in Montreal; and Mark Antliff, expert on fascist generational politics and the impact of Italian fascist ideology on the French avant-garde of Duke University in the United States. 

When the exhibition opens on June 6, visitors will have an opportunity to join a guided tour hosted by Didier Ottinger, chief curator of the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris and co-curator of the exhibition.

For information on dates, admission fees, and locations of these activities, go to http://www.gallery.ca/.

Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer
From 17 October 2008, to 15 February 2009, Caught in the Act: The Viewer as Performer a dynamic and innovative exhibition of contemporary Canadian art, will present sculptural works by ten artists and collectives from Vancouver, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal, and Quebec City. Stemming from the traditions of performance, installation, minimalism, environmental art, and body art, the works presented will invite visitors to interact with them, thus changing the classic relationship between the object the individual who looks at it.

Works created by artists Max Dean, Mowry Baden, Rebecca Belmore, Jana Sterbak, BGL, Geoffrey Farmer, Massimo Guerrera, Rodney LaTourelle, Kent Monkman, Jennifer Marman and Daniel Borins seek to engage – and furthermore, rely on – the active participation of the gallery visitor. Whether immersive environments, sculptures that involve an embodied spectator, or encounters that promote interaction, these works may be considered in relation to the recent interest in participatory art practices in contemporary art.

This experimental exhibition, curatored by NGC Contemporary Art Curator, Josée Drouin-Brisebois, will include a dozen large-scale sculptural installations, with works from the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada, and those created specifically for Caught in the Act. A fully-illustrated bilingual catalogue will accompany the exhibition and feature a written piece by Winnipeg artist Glen Johnson as well as contributions by Stephen Horne, Anne-Marie Ninacs, Greg Hill and Josée Drouin-Brisebois.

Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture
Organized in collaboration with the J. Paul Getty Museum of Los Angeles, the international exhibition Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture documents the remarkable rise of the sculpted portrait in Rome in the early seventeenth century. Instigated by Gianlorenzo Bernini and developed by his peers – Alessandro Algardi, Giuliano Finelli, François Duqesnoy, and Francesco Mochi – the bust portrait re-emerged as an innovative and pioneering art form.

The exhibition, presented at the NGC from 28 November 2008 to 8 March 2009, will reveal how sculptors of this period portrayed their subjects by going beyond simple reproduction of their physical features to reflect their personality in an incarnate, vibrant, animated representation. The level of virtuosity displayed by Bernini and others in his sphere in coaxing such a rendering from the intractable medium of stone astonishes scholars and the general public alike.

Bernini and the Birth of Baroque Portrait Sculpture is the first major exhibition on this artist in North America, and the very first exhibition to assemble such a comprehensive collection of the artist’s portrait busts, together with a selection of works by some of the 17th century Rome’s most renowned sculptors. The exhibition begins with works created when Bernini was at the dawn of his career and continues chronologically, so that visitors can appreciate his artistic evolution, development, and originality. The exhibition will also explore the relationships between painting and sculpture during the Baroque era and will bring together approximately 50 works, including sculptures made of marble, bronze, and porphyry (magmatic rock), as well as paintings and drawings from all over the world. Some of the sculptures have never been seen outside of Italy before. The opportunity to view these works in close proximity will shed light on the remarkable artistic innovations of the period and provide an exceedingly rare glimpse into the inter-relationships and variations of style among the artists.

The exhibition’s organizing committee is composed of Catherine Hess, associate curator for sculpture and decorative arts, J. Paul Getty Museum; Andrea Bacchi, professor, Università di Trento, Italy; and Jennifer Montagu, honorary member of the Warburg Institute, London. The deputy director and chief curator of the NGC, David Franklin,Ph.D., an expert in the Italian Renaissance, played a key role in bring ing this exhibition to the National Gallery of Canada.
Each of the three exhibitions will be accompanied by a fully illustrated catalogue. Available in English and French, they will be on sale at the National Gallery of Canada Bookstore during the exhibitions. Watch for their arrival at http://www.shopngc.ca/, the NGC’s online store.

Admission and NGC hours
Tickets for The 1930s and Bernini are on sale at $15 for adults, $12 for seniors and full-time students, $7 for youths aged 12 to 19 years, and $30 for families (two adults and three children). Admission is free of charge for children under 12 and for Friends of the Gallery. Tickets include admission to the NGC Collection.

Tickets for Caught in the Act 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 613-998-888 or 1-888-541-8888 and at http://www.shopngc.ca/.

From May 1 to September 30, the NGC is open every day from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. From 1 October to 30 April, the Gallery is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Thursdays until 8 p.m. During this period, the Gallery is closed on Mondays, except during the March break and on Easter Monday. Closed on December 25, January 1, and on Good Friday.

About the National Gallery of Canada
The National Gallery of Canada is home to one of the most important collections of historical and contemporary art in the world. In addition, it has pre-eminent collections of Inuit, Western and European Art from the 14th to the 20th century, American and Asian Art. Created in 1880, it is among the oldest of Canada’s national, cultural institutions. For more information, visit http://www.gallery.ca/.

About the National Gallery of Canada Foundation
The National Gallery of Canada Foundation is dedicated to supporting the National Gallery and its affiliate, the Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, in fulfilling their mandates. By fostering strong partnerships, the Foundation provides the Gallery with the additional financial support required to lead Canada's visual arts community locally, nationally and internationally. The blend of public support and private philanthropy enables the National Gallery of Canada to preserve and interpret Canada's visual arts heritage. The Foundation welcomes present and deferred gifts for special projects and endowments. To find out more about the NGC Foundation, visit www.ngcfoundation.ca

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