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New Acquisitions

With its unique mandate to collect and celebrate the Art of Canada, the McMichael’s permanent collection is always growing. This is made possible largely by to the exceptional generosity of our donors. This exhibition showcases a selection of recent additions to the permanent collection, many on display for the first time.

Laying the Foundation: Works from the Original Gift

The McMichael Canadian Art Collection started out as a modest four-room home, built in 1954 for a young photographer and his wife – Robert and Signe McMichael. It was designed in a robust but stylish log cabin aesthetic by architect Leo Venchiarutti (1947-2007).

ALEX JANVIER

This major retrospective celebrates Alex Janvier’s lifetime of creativity, knowledge and perspective, gained through his love of the land, art and Dene culture. Exploring his 65-year career through more than 100 remarkable paintings and drawings, it is the largest and most comprehensive retrospective on the artist to date.

Annie Pootoogook: Cutting Ice

Cutting Ice is a term that implies something that matters or has consequence. Dr. Nancy Campbell, acting as lead curator, will take a community approach to this project with a range of individuals from Cape Dorset who knew the artist. Dr. Campbell’s curatorial expertise will lend new insights to our understanding of Annie Pootoogook’s work and will enliven the many voices from the community that she has come to know well. This exhibition celebrates the strength and contemporaneity of Pootoogook’s work but also uncovers how it has influenced her peers. Alongside works by Pootoogook, this exhibition will include works of art by Shuvinai Ashoona, Itee Pootoogook, Jutai Toonoo, Ohotaq Mikkigak and Siassie Kenneally, showing how Annie Pootoogook made it possible to begin a different conversation that celebrates Inuit art in new ways in Canada and the world.

Passion Over Reason: Tom Thomson & Joyce Wieland

Consider this exhibition to be a love letter to Tom Thomson and Canada – two subjects at the core of the 2017-year as we celebrate Canada’s 150th year and the centenary of Thomson’s death. Passion Over Reason will take a critical approach to our fascination with Thomson and show how today’s current culture of hipster or lumbersexual fashion, as well as cultivation of outsider creed, has confirmed what Wieland pointed to in the 1970s: Thomson is Canada. This exhibition will also allow for an account of feminist approaches to the topic of Canada in art then and now.

Artist in Residence: Zachari Logan

Zachari Logan’s artist residency at the McMichael, and related artwork commissioned by the gallery, folds seamlessly into Passion Over Reason as a 21st-century complement to Tom Thomson’s subject matter and Joyce Wieland’s strategically ‘feminine’ approaches to art making. Like Thomson, Logan (b. 1980) has Scottish roots but was born in Canada. Logan’s pastel and paint celebrations of flora and fauna in dense configurations would make any naturalist swoon, and the tender treatments of the human body interwoven among them make us think twice about sexually suggestive flora which is commonly associated with women artists.

The Group of Seven Guitar Project

J.E.H. MacDonald once noted that Lawren Harris was compelled to sing a tune when he sat nearby the natural rhythms of water to paint en plein air.During the summer of 2017 – Canada’s 150th year – the McMichael Canadian Art Collection will become a place to wander, celebrate and delight in acoustic space.

Steve Driscoll + Finn O’Hara: Size Matters

A Primary Exhibition organized by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection for Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival Size Matters brings together the work of painter Steve Driscoll and photographer Finn O’Hara for their first-ever exhibition at a public art gallery. These Toronto-based artists face a dichotomy familiar to many Millennials: urban lifestyles combined with a love for the outdoors. Their work is a creative response to the need for a sense of scale.

Morrisseau at the McMichael

In July 1979, the McMichael was honoured to host Norval Morrisseau as artist-in-residence. For three weeks, Morrisseau worked in the Tom Thomson Shack where visitors could engage with the artist and see his painting process. He worked on sixteen paintings which were commissioned by the McMichael.

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

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

Higher States: Lawren Harris and His American Contemporaries

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.

Lawren Harris: Leaps and Bounds

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.

Once Upon a Time, Deep in the Dark Forest

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.

Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven: Destinations  

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.

Wounds of War

On June 3, 1916, a massive explosion wounded A. Y. Jackson during the Battle of Mount Sorrel, one of the toughest and most tragic of the Canadian First World War battles. The event changed Jackson’s life and transformed his art.

Needles and Pins

Colleen Heslin’s paintings resonate with the tension of material and gestural complexity. The artist hand-dyes cotton and linen in small batches, and hangs them to dry, which develops residual surface textures. The stained fabric is then cut and pieced together – similar to quilt-making construction.

In Studio: Jack Bush

The Ontario premiere of Jack Bush: In Studio at the McMichael will be the first solo exhibition of the artist’s work in a major public gallery in the vicinity of Toronto since the early 1980s. In the most classic sense, the word studio is defined as “room for study.” This exhibition was conceived as an opportunity to gather 20 select paintings in a new space with the aim to spark study.

Field Trip: Sarah Anne Johnson

This exhibition featured recent photographic work by internationally acclaimed multidisciplinary artist Sarah Anne Johnson (born 1976). Field Trip was inspired by the artist’s fascination with outdoor music festivals. Johnson first attended an outdoor festival at age sixteen, becoming immediately attracted to its dynamic and pleasure-seeking lifestyle which represented a rite-of-passage for her and many other young people.

On Paper

Most great works of art begin with a drawing: ideas come out on paper first. There is a degree of intimacy and immediacy that is inherent with works on paper, and this exhibition celebrated these qualities. On Paper was on view for a limited time only, since light exposure must be kept to a minimum to ensure the conservation of the artworks.

A Foundation for Fifty Years: McMichael Masterworks

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.