Art

SUMPTUOUS SUMMER

Exceptional works from Canada and abroad are on show across the country

SHARON DOYLE DRIEDGER June 23 2003
Art

SUMPTUOUS SUMMER

Exceptional works from Canada and abroad are on show across the country

SHARON DOYLE DRIEDGER June 23 2003

SUMPTUOUS SUMMER

Art

SHARON DOYLE DRIEDGER

Exceptional works from Canada and abroad are on show across the country

Summer is the best time to wander through art galleries—cool, mosquito-free zones where landscapes can be enjoyed without thought of the UV Index or pollution count. And, this year, a particularly fresh breeze is blowing through Canada’s major art galleries. The season’s exhibits offer a garden party for the mind with shows of impressive Canadian and international artworks that celebrate everyday life, love, music and even

dogs, with charm, wit and intelligence. Maclean’s recommends:

EDOUARD VUILLARD: POST-IMPRESSIONIST MASTER,

at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (to Aug. 24), is the summer’s must-see. Long overshadowed by Matisse, Picasso and other

turn-of-the-century luminaries, this important French painter (1868-1940) finally gets his due with a blockbuster retrospective and a magnificent catalogue, including some 400 paintings, prints, drawings and photographs. Among the many highlights are Vuillard’s renowned domestic scenes—daringly composed, pattern-filled canvases portraying his mother, friends and lovers in intimate dramas. A master manipulator of

paint and people, Vuillard was known to provoke family quarrels so he could capture the tension on canvas. A hit when it ran in Washington this spring, the show will later travel to London and Paris.

THE AGEOF WATTEAU,CHARDIN AND FRAGONARD: MASTERPIECES OF FRENCH GENRE PAINTING, at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa (to Sept. 7), offers a glimpse into the elegant life of wealthy 18th-century Parisians through 100 works by 25 of the era’s most accomplished artists. There is plenty of décolletage in these sumptuous canvasses, but their creators also capture tender, melancholic moments amid the frivolity of pre-revolutionary France. The National Gallery is the exhibit’s only Canadian stop before it moves on to Washington and Berlin.

SOUNDTRACKS, at the Edmonton Art Gallery (to Aug. 24), explores the evolving relationship between music and the visual arts in Canada over the past century. The threepart multimedia exhibit—produced by a national team of curators—starts on a historical note, illustrating the connections between folk musicians and painters in the Group of Seven era. It segues to the experimental sixties, when avant-garde artists like Michael Snow broke down the traditional barriers between art and music, creating hybrid works that meshed sound and image. Soundtracks, part three, skips to contemporary conceptual artists, like Stan Douglas and Rodney Graham, for whom music— and performing in bands—has become an essential medium.

THE BIG PICTURE: RECENT ACQUISITIONS FROM THE COLLECTION OF ALISON AND AUN SCHWARTZ,

at the Vancouver Art Gallery (to Sept, l), showcases 20 of the world’s most influential photo-artists. Jeff Wall’s groundbreaking backlit murals and Cindy’s Sherman’s ironic self-portraits are among the 75 works that helped establish photography as an art form over the past three decades.

A THOUSAND HOUNDS: A WALK WITH THE DOGS THROUGH THE HISTORY OF PHOTOGRAPHY, at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (to Sept. 7), focuses on canines as they’ve appeared through the camera lens over the past 150 years. Man’s best friend appears in 145 photos in this playful collection that includes daguerreotypes by Edward Muybridge, along with works by 20th-century masters Man Ray and Henri Cartier-Bresson, and contemporary photographers Annie Liebowitz, William Wegman and Diane Arbus. Winnipeg is the only Canadian stop for A Thousand Hounds, which will tour the United States before travelling to Japan.

POP PHOTOGRAPHICA, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto (to July 20), explores the use of photos in popular culture. This entertaining show presents more than 160 objects—unique watches, walking sticks, jewellery and souvenirs—emblazoned with photographic images.

TOM THOMSON, a major retrospective at the Art Gallery of Ontario (to Sept. 7), with more than 140 paintings and oil sketches, offers full immersion in the spectacular landscapes of one of Canada’s most beloved artists.

DAVID RABINOWITCH, at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal (to Oct. 5), is the first major solo show in Canada for this Ontarioborn sculptor, whose precise, abstract works in steel have won international praise. STRETCH, at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Toronto (to Sept. 1), assembles video, sculpture, audio, performance and photography by 20 established and emerging artists from the Americas. The stunningly diverse works share a single focus: everyday human experience.

ANDRE BIELER, at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec (to Aug. 17), features 60 drawings and engravings by the late Swiss artist, known for his enchanting images of rural Quebec. The museum will also run Marquet aufil de l’eau (to Sept. 7), paintings by Albert Marquet, a Fauvist and a friend of Matisse, organized with the Bordeaux Museum of Fine Arts. fJ]