Visual Arts News Digest, Compiled by the Vancouver Art Gallery Library, November 16, 2016


Vancouver Special: Vancouver Art Gallery announces full list of artists participating in its new triennial exhibition.  The Vancouver Art Gallery has announced the full list of 40 artists who will be participating in its new triennial exhibition Vancouver Special: Ambivalent Pleasures (December 3, 2016 to April 17, 2017).   Georgia Straight, November 14, 2016

Seeking solace in the power of art in a world turned upside-down.  “My exercise in election-night self-soothing was not about patriotism. While it was a comfort to lose myself in those colourful Canadian hills and streams, it was the neighbours to the south who were on my mind. I thought about the Walker Evans exhibition that opened recently at the Vancouver Art Gallery. I pulled out the brick of a catalogue published for the retrospective of the iconic U.S. artist, leafing through pages of photos of Evans’s black-and-white America – gritty and impoverished, but on the brink of enormous change. In the lean faces of the farming families in the Depression-era South, the ground-down subway riders of New York, the listless men hanging around outside the New Deal Barbershop, I saw desperation but also resilience. And hope.”  Globe & Mail, November 11, 2016

Eastside Culture Crawl Artist Spotlights: Jon ShawCarol McQuaid and Corrinne Wolcoski  Georgia Straight, November 14, 2016


Craig Le Blanc gets personal in confessional show at dc3 Art Projects.  Craig Le Blanc’s latest art show is fragile and reflective, well beyond its vulnerable text statements etched in glass sitting on the floor. While the Edmonton artist’s work often explores themes of masculinity, vulnerability and failure (often with humour), She Love Me. He Loves Me Not. contains a dynamic range of Le Blanc’s most openly autobiographical work. Edmonton Journal, November 15, 2016


Much ado about Thomson.  One of the country’s top experts in historical Canadian art has weighed in on a mysterious sketch signed “Tom Thomson” – and says there is reason to believe it was indeed made by the iconic Canadian artist. “My gut [feeling] is that it is a Thomson,” says Dennis Reid, an art professor at the University of Toronto who was formerly with the Art Gallery of Ontario and National Gallery of Canada. He has curated Thomson exhibitions and written and edited publications about the artist.  Globe & Mail, November 12, 2016

Rebecca Belmore Wins $50K Iskowitz Prize.  Renowned Anishinaabe artist Rebecca Belmore has won the $50,000 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO.  The award, which is presented annually to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Canada, includes the $50,000 cash prize, as well as a solo exhibition at the AGO within two years.  Canadian Art, November 16, 2016

Can You Really Marie-Kondo an Art Practice?  Walking into Ric Amis and J. Lynn Campbell’s 1,800-square-foot live-work studio this fall in Toronto’s Parkdale neighbourhood, I had the haunting sense I was peering into the past.  Amis and Campbell have been facing a tough—and increasingly prevalent—reality for Canadian artists: shrinking work spaces. In Toronto this year, artists were forced out of studios in a Wallace Avenue warehouse by a French software company, and priced out of a Sterling Road factory by condos, leaving many with the problem of finding a new space, and then finding ways of fitting their old art into it.  Canadian Art, November 16, 2016

Inner Space: In Small Wonders, the AGO’s strangest possessions take centre stage. The Art Gallery of Ontario has the world’s largest collection of miniature 16th-century boxwood carvings, and if that string of words doesn’t exactly light your world on fire, well, fair enough. Little time, and less effort, has been spent studying the tiny curiosities; the one and only scholarly work produced on the subject was in 1992, by a curator at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art who left the field shortly after to become a social worker and never looked back.  Toronto Star, November 13, 2016

Royal Ontario Museum offers apology for ‘racist’ African exhibition.  An apology offered, an apology accepted: that was the scenario Wednesday evening in Toronto as the 102-year-old Royal Ontario Museum acknowledged that a controversial exhibition it mounted more than a quarter-century ago was racist in content and effect against African-Canadians.  Globe & Mail, November 10, 2016

Eight years ago we got our first look at the new AGO.  The Art Gallery of Ontario’s giant glass facade may feel like a natural part of Toronto’s streetscape today, but it was only eight years ago that the gallery’s revamp made its grand reopening.  The 4 year project, headed by renowned architect Frank Gehry, started its renovation process in 2004. Toronto Star, November 14, 2016

New York

Ryan Foerster: “I Was Always Against Art School” Born in Newmarket (Ontario) in 1983, and based in New York since 2008, Ryan Foerster has become internationally renowned for his messy, abstract and arguably punk-rock approach to (formerly) pristine photographic processes.  Foerster’s process involves adding debris to printing plates; leaving photographs out on his roof, or in the rain; and weighting down photo prints with Sudbury mining slag.  Canadian Art, November 14, 2016

The Art Market’s Reaction to Trump? Sales This Week Offer First Test. The sales of Impressionist, Modern and contemporary art that start Monday offer the first test of how the art market will react to a Trump presidency and whether it will continue a softening trend that, for the past year, has had potential sellers reluctant to consign their best works.  New York Times, November 13, 2016

Edvard Munch Brings $54 Million Amid ‘Thinner’ Sales at Sotheby’s.  One could not help but feel that Helena Newman, the Sotheby’s auctioneer on Monday night, was almost begging for a bid of more than $50 million for Edvard Munch’s 1902 painting “Girls on the Bridge.”  Still, the room was quiet. Despite what felt like an excruciatingly long wait — during which Ms. Newman even delayed by sipping water — the painting attracted only a single bid.  New York Times, November 15, 2016


MFA plans $24 million conservation center project.  The Museum of Fine Arts is planning a $24 million renovation project that will create a 22,000-square-foot conservation center, housing six laboratories on two floors of the museum’s main building.   The project — the result of the largest conservation fund-raising effort in MFA history — will consolidate all but a handful of the museum’s conservation activities, eventually freeing up an additional 12,000 square feet of gallery space in the Asian, European, and Ancient World areas.  Boston Globe, November 10, 2016


The Design Museum review – a magnificent achievement.  The first thing to say about the new improved Design Museum, which will open in new £83m premises on the 24th of this month, is that it is an exceptional achievement. It is a space for celebrating and exploring the made and the visual, the magic of human invention, the objects that shape our lives, and the skills and forces that shape them. First glimpses of its permanent and temporary exhibitions suggest intriguing (if strongly western-oriented) displays. This is important, valuable, thrilling stuff, when you consider what the Model T Ford or the iPhone have done for and to the world.  The Observer, November 13, 2016


Canadian Art Historian Embroiled in Van Gogh Sketchbook Controversy [Updated] Canadian art historian Dr. Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov has found herself at the centre of an international Van Gogh sketchbook controversy.  Welsh-Ovcharov was hailed in the Canadian press as the recoverer of a lost Van Gogh sketchbook—a sketchbook which is the basis of a new, $100-priced book on the artist officially being launched today by US-based publisher Abrams Books.  Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum has also issued a press release headlined “Found Sketchbook With Drawings Is Not By Van Gogh, According To Van Gogh Museum.” Canadian Art, November 15, 2016.  See also Van Gogh Museum disputes newly discovered sketchbookCBC News, November 15, 2016


50th anniversary of the Florence Flood: Memories from a drowned world.  Asking a veteran conservator or museum professional where they were when the Arno River burst its banks 50 years ago this month, submerging the historic centre of Florence under 18 billion gallons of filthy water, is akin to asking someone what they were doing when Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. The flood was a pivotal moment in the history of conservation in terms of the development of new methods and techniques, key lessons learned, the formation of lasting relationships and, significantly, attracting a younger generation to the field. The Art Newspaper, November 4, 2016


Selfie-Seeking Tourist Topples 18th-Century Sculpture.  It seems these absurdities will never end no matter how much we may shame irresponsible guardians or selfie-seekers. Now, we have the buffoon who, this week, visited Lisbon’s National Museum of Ancient Art and toppled an 18th century, Portuguese sculpture while posing for a photo with it.  Hyperallergic, November 10, 2016




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