McMichael - Canadian Art | Collection d'art Canadien

Current Exhibitions

Lawren Harris: Leaps and Bounds

February, 2017 – September 4, 2017

The leading member of the Group of Seven, Lawren S. Harris has become one of the most recognizable figures in landscape painting in Canada. A lesser known side of Harris’s story is that he spent the second half of his career as an abstract painter.

This exhibition demonstrates the breadth of Harris’s oeuvre using works drawn entirely from the McMichael’s collection, and includes personal photographs of the painter and some of the tools and materials he used to create his masterpieces.

Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries

February 4, 2017 – September 4, 2017
Guest Curators: Dr. Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens

Lawren Harris sought greater and greater heights as his career progressed; from mountains to states of mind, he aimed to go higher. This iconic Canadian landscape painter took a seemingly unexpected turn toward abstract art in 1934 – the year in which he moved to the United States, where he remained until 1940. Higher States frames Harris in the larger North American context during his years in New Hampshire and New Mexico, and features an important presentation of his US counterparts, including Georgia O’Keeffe, Arthur Dove, and Marsden Hartley. Guest curators Dr. Roald Nasgaard and Gwendolyn Owens investigate the evolution of Harris’s painting from landscape to abstraction and demonstrate his integral role in cross-border artistic developments.

Harris shared a profound commitment to “the spiritual in art.” Select examples of abstract art by Canadian and American painters will show that Harris was not alone in this pursuit. Harris was part of an international movement inspired by Kandinsky and richly infused by American Transcendentalist writers, such as Emerson and Whitman, and by the syncretic beliefs of Theosophy, which had long informed Harris’s personal beliefs. This exhibition, accompanied by a beautifully illustrated hardback publication, takes a new Canadian perspective regarding the exciting body of abstract work by Lawren Harris and his American counterparts. This exhibition will tour to the Glenbow Museum in Calgary following its presentation at McMichael.

Arctic Echoes: Sound, Stories, and Song in the New North

February 19 – August 2017
Curator: Dr. Nancy Campbell

To [Inuit], truth is given through oral tradition, mysticism, intuition, all cognition, not simply by observation and measurement of physical phenomena. To them, the ocularly visible apparition is not nearly as common as the purely auditory one; hearer would be a better term than seer for their holy men. ‐‐ Edmund Carpenter and Marshall McLuhan, Acoustic Space

Music, storytelling, poetry and dance are essential expressions of Inuit cultural identity. This series of Inuit art exhibitions is themed to sounds and activities associated with sound as manifested in the Arctic environment, Inuit songs, instrumental performances and other aural/oral sources represented in Inuit visual art. This selection of contemporary Inuit art showcases the importance of sound with respect to its cultural significance as a core area of perception. This exhibition will also include some works on paper by Inuit women artists selected from the recent Museum of Inuit Art acquisition. Audio/visual components that complement the works on display are also included in the curatorial research process for this project.


Destinations: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven

September 12, 2016 – April 17, 2017
Curator: Chris Finn

Many of the wilderness landscapes depicted in artworks by Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven were interpretations serving as symbols or metaphors of place. However, writers who positioned and promoted Thomson’s and the Group of Seven’s work within a geographical and Canadian nation-building narrative, created a sense of authenticity while aligning their imagery with political as well as commercial interests. This exhibition presents a selection of the artists’ paintings and prints depicting their renderings of the ‘North’, including masterworks such as Mount Robson by Lawren Harris and Byng Inlet, Georgian Bay by Tom Thomson.

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Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Dark Forest

September 23, 2016 – April 17, 2017
Curator: Sharona Adamowicz-Clements

In the landscape art of the Group of Seven, the viewer has been conditioned to recognize the picturesque beauty of the Canadian forest. Fierce, strong, and often unspoiled, it reflected a sense of character for a developing nation. This exhibition, however, presents historical and contemporary art—including those of the Group and their associates—that suggests the forest is no symbol of glory; it is where beauty, mystery, fantasy, and darkness collide.

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A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterworks

Curated by Sarah Stanners

The McMichael owes its existence and collection to the generosity of donors. A Foundation for Fifty Years will present some of the most significant donations made for the McMichael gallery’s founding year, 1966, by Signe and Robert McMichael, as well as their peers, who were all excited to make Canadian masterworks a gift to the public of Ontario. Installed in the McMichael’s principle gallery on the ground floor, this collection of masterworks celebrates our core artists - the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. Artists on show include Tom Thomson, Lawren Harris, David Milne, and Emily Carr, to name just a few. The exhibition space has been restored to its 1960s modernist style, in a manner that the McMichaels intended: traditional materials with modern lines. This special exhibition kicks off the 50th anniversary of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

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Arthur Lismer (1885-1969), Canadian Jungle, 1946, oil on canvas, 44.8 x 53.7 cm (17 5/8 x 21 1/8 in.), Gift of the Founders, Robert and Signe McMichael, McMichael Canadian Art Collection
1966.16.107


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