David Milne: Modern Painting to open at the McMichael on October 5, 2018


Organized by the Dulwich Picture Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery, with the exceptional support of the National Gallery of Canada.

August 9, 2018, Kleinburg, ON– After successful runs in London, England and Vancouver, the McMichael Canadian Art Collection is pleased to present David Milne: Modern Painting, the critically-acclaimed exhibition showcasing one of Canada’s greatest modern painters, David Milne (1882-1953).

Documenting a career that spanned the first half of the twentieth century, David Milne: Modern Painting follows Milne’s artistic development as he painted his way through the bustling streets of New York, the war-torn battlefields of Northern France, and the unspoiled wilderness of Canada. The McMichael will be the final destination of the international touring-exhibition, following critically-acclaimed showings in London and Vancouver.   

The exhibit will bring together over 90 extraordinary works in oil and watercolour, as well as never-exhibited photographs and drawings and includes memorabilia collected by the artist during his time in Europe as an official war artist.

The artist’s remarkable ability to capture the somberness and depth of landscapes will be highlighted in this ground-breaking exhibition.  He is renowned for his sparing, subtle use of colour and his fondness for using black as a means of contrast. Milne’s approach changed dramatically as he moved from the Post-Impressionist style of his New York years, with vivid colours and dynamic brushstrokes, to the more muted, distilled visual language of his later work.

David Milne: Modern Painting is co-curated by the McMichael’s Executive Director, Ian A.C. Dejardin, and Sarah Milroy.  Although the two have worked together on previous exhibitions, the show will be Sarah Milroy’s first outing as the McMichael Canadian Art Collection’s newly-appointed Chief Curator.

“For many landscape artists the struggle is to do justice to what’s out there in nature. For Milne, he’s trying to understand his own processes and perceptions,” says Milroy. “This is a modern artist for the ages, and one of Canada’s best kept secrets.”

Milne was able to blend together different influences into what ultimately became his intimate style. The influence of transcendentalist authors such as Thoreau and Walt Whitman can be seen in his simple, organic approach as an artist, and he could suggest powerful significance in everyday subject matter.

“Milne will no doubt now be recognised outside Canada as one of the country’s great landscape painters,” art critic, in The Economist’s 1843 Magazine. “…his commitment to understanding the workings of human perception make him a fascinating example of an artist who doggedly sought to express his ideas in paint.”

The exhibition opens October 5, 2018 and will remain on display until January 14, 2018.

Media wishing to speak with exhibition curators Ian Dejardin and Sarah Milroy are invited to attend the media preview on October 4, 2018 from 1- 4 PM. To obtain an appointment or high-resolution images of the artworks in this exhibition, please contact Sam Cheung at [email protected] or 905.893.1121 ext. 2210.

The exhibition is curated by Sarah Milroy and Ian A. C. Dejardin. They would like to acknowledge their special thanks to the Canadian Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

About the McMichael Canadian Art Collection

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is an agency of the Government of Ontario and acknowledges the support of the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, and the McMichael Canadian Art Foundation. It is the foremost venue in the country showcasing the Group of Seven and their contemporaries. In addition to touring exhibitions, its permanent collection consists of over 6,500 artworks by Canadian artists, including paintings by the Group of Seven and their contemporaries, as well as First Nations, Métis and Inuit artists. The gallery is located on 100 acres of northern landscape and hiking trails at 10365 Islington Avenue, Kleinburg, north of Major Mackenzie Drive in the City of Vaughan. For more information: mcmichael.com.

*THE ART OF CANADA is an official mark of the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

About David Milne

David Milne (1882–1953) would begin and end his life in Ontario, Canada, however, in many ways he was an artist beyond nationality. Having trained in New York in the first decade of the twentieth century, he absorbed the art of French innovators like Claude Monet, Henri Matisse, Paul Cézanne, Pierre Bonnard and Édouard Vuillard, and became a keen observer of his American contemporaries. Milne went on to serve as a war artist, recording the abandoned battlefields of Northern France and Belgium in the months following the Armistice, after which he returned to pursue his art as a recluse in the hills and forests of the Northeastern United States and Canada. His constant artistic experimentation and his natural penchant for solitude meant that for many decades he found little support for his art. It was not until his fifties that he would be embraced by Canadian tastemakers of his time. Today, Milne is widely revered as an exemplar of artistic commitment and integrity; his paintings are cherished for their beauty and quiet eloquence.

A cerebral artist who was methodical in the development of his ideas and a scrupulous observer of his own artistic process, Milne created works of rare delicacy, sensitivity and emotion. Whether he was depicting the bustling sidewalks of Manhattan or the eerie quiet of a remote lake in the lonely off-season, Milne displayed a style distinctly his own, with a grasp of tone, colour and composition that gives his work a remarkable visual integrity from first to last.


Media Contacts:
Sam Cheung
Media Relations and Communications Coordinator
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2210
[email protected]

Nick Foglia
Director, Communications, Marketing and Sales
McMichael Canadian Art Collection
905.893.1121 ext. 2265
[email protected]