June 14, 2011 KLEINBURG, ON—The McMichael Canadian Art Collection is pleased to announce a significant gift to the gallery’s permanent collection from renowned Canadian artist, Ivan Eyre.

The artist has generously donated nine monumental (twice-life-size) bronze sculptures encapsulating his creative lifework, to be installed this spring, inaugurating the gallery’s new outdoor Sculpture Garden, officially opening on Canada Day, July 1st. The McMichael is both pleased and proud to display such magnificent works of art, which convey a deep appreciation of how line, mass, and form combine to create dynamic sculptural objects.

This tremendous donation to the McMichael is a generous gift of works by an artist at the peak of his career; but more importantly these special sculptures provide our visitors with a deep appreciation of the creative relationship between art and nature, embodied in this installation in our newly landscaped grounds.

“The spectacular bronze sculptures by Ivan Eyre showcased in our new outdoor Sculpture Garden reflect the intrinsic relationship between art and nature,” said Dr. Victoria Dickenson, McMichael Executive Director and CEO. “How we view and think about landscape and our environment is at the core of the gallery’s mission.”

Artist Ivan Eyre has also stated, “Each of the sculptures constitutes a meeting between thoughts of the distant past and an anticipation of the future. The monumental size of the bronzes enhances that idea.”

The McMichael Canadian Art Foundation has been instrumental in facilitating Ivan Eyre’s gift; it has raised funds for the installation of the sculptures and created a fund within the Foundation to provide ongoing financial support for the upkeep of the Sculpture Garden for generations to come. Installation of the Ivan Eyre sculptures is generously funded by McMichael Canadian Art Foundation, Richardson Foundation, and Friends of R.T.E. Gillespie.

About the Artist

In a celebrated career, spanning more than half a century, Ivan Eyre has been a uniquely creative spirit and a dominant force in the figurative and landscape movements of Canadian art including painting, drawing, and sculpture. One of the finest and most distinguished living Canadian artists, Eyre’s art is found in many important public, corporate, and private collections. He has exhibited in more than sixty-five solo and 250 group exhibitions around the world, including at the National Gallery of Canada, the 49th Parallel Gallery in New York City, the Frankfurter Kunstkabinett in Germany, the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, and Canada House in London, England. Eyre is the recipient of many distinguished awards, including the Order of Manitoba, the Queen’s Golden and Silver Jubilee Medals, in addition to many grants and an honourary Doctors of Law degree from the University of Manitoba.

Eyre’s sculptures featured in the McMichael’s new outdoor Sculpture Garden provide an opportunity to examine a rarely seen body of work by a Canadian master. The bronze sculptures have had a long gestation; they constitute a summary of Eyre’s figurative preoccupations for the last four decades. Hundreds of drawings dating from the early sixties—when the earliest expression of Eyre’s sculptural vision was first formulated—reveal the dynamic and complementary relationship between his graphic work and sculpture, a relationship contributing significantly to our appreciation of the large bronzes.

“To see these monumental, surrealistic sculptures come to the McMichael as a gift from senior Canadian artist Ivan Eyre, is a tribute both to the significance of the work of the McMichael and to the importance of the art by Eyre,” said Patricia Bovey, FRSA, Winnipeg-based art historian, writer and consultant, and former director of The Winnipeg Art Gallery. “The creative output of this critically acclaimed and prolific artist is unique. His paintings, drawings and sculptures are imbued with depth and substance conveying many layers of meanings. While the work in each of the media he uses relate to each other, every work stands on its own. These nine works are seminal pieces for Eyre, extending Eyre’s visual language into the realm of monumental public bronze sculpture and uniting many themes and expanding many images which have recurred in his small drawings and sculptures in earlier years. Eyre has always stood alone in his visual expression; he now stands alone in the field of Canadian monumental sculpture.”

Like his drawings and paintings, Eyre’s sculpture is a complex synthesis of many elements. Western and non-Western influences have been absorbed and reformulated to suit the dictates of a playful, contradictory, and paradoxical mind. The evolution of Eyre’s thought is addressed in a special temporary exhibition at the McMichael, Ivan Eyre: Sculpture in Context, through a selection of drawings, early paintings, and sculpture chosen to illuminate some of the complexities of this major artist’s challenging vision. The exhibition is on display from May 7 to August 14, 2011.

The New Sculpture Garden

In March 2010, the McMichael received $4.2 million from the Province of Ontario and the federal government through the Infrastructure Stimulus Fund to upgrade the grounds. Recognizing that the natural setting and the opportunity to enjoy the grounds is a vital component of the McMichael visitor experience, the gallery announced the installation of a fully accessible, open-air gallery that blends seamlessly into the forested landscape, in the form of a Sculpture Garden. Work is due for completion by the summer of 2011.

Biography of Ivan Eyre

Ivan Eyre was born in Tullymet, Saskatchewan in 1935. Eyre graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Art from the University of Manitoba in 1957 and spent the following year at the University of North Dakota. Returning to Canada, he began teaching at the University of Manitoba where he was appointed Full Professor (Painting and Drawing) until his retirement in 1993. Eyre went on to receive The Order of Manitoba in 2007 and his honourary Doctor of Laws degree from the University of Manitoba in 2008.

In five decades of painting, sculpting and drawing, Eyre produced figurative work, still lifes, personal mythologies, figure silhouette/landscapes, family portraits and panoramic landscapes. Eyre is adept with the effective and seamless representation in two and three-dimensions. His drawings mix media and modes; his paintings blend the automatist process with imagery; and his sculptures offer a deep intuitive appreciation of the history of sculptural forms from many different civilizations and traditions. His ability to combine these various interests into works of authority and visual appeal has made Eyre one of Canada’s most respected artists.

In 1998 the Pavilion Museum was opened at Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg with the entire third floor dedicated as the Ivan Eyre Gallery. Ivan’s gift to the museum was enormous as he donated two hundred paintings, five thousand drawings and sixteen sculptures which are shown in exhibitions in his gallery on a rotating basis.

Eyre was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy in 1974, received the Queen’s Silver Jubilee medal in 1977, the University of Manitoba Alumni Jubilee award in 1982, and is the subject of several films and books. He has held solo exhibitions from 1962 to the present and is represented in numerous public, private and corporate collections throughout Canada and the world.

Images of Sculptures with Titles

Dimensions and Weights of Sculptures


For further information or images, contact:

Michelle Kortinen, Communications Coordinator

McMichael Canadian Art Collection

905.893.1121 ext. 2210