The Art Bank in the 21st Century
Contemporary Feature and Davies Foundation Galleries
16 February–9 June
16 February–9 June
The Canada Council Art Bank holds the largest collection of Canadian contemporary art on the planet: this exhibition draws on its latest additions to profile current art practices and to assess the vitality of the program created in 1972 under the banner of "democracy and democratization." The expressive life of the peoples and places of the nation—fruit of the Art Bank’s entwined mandates of excellence, representation and rentability—is captured in a selection of works acquired since 2001.
This exhibition spans regions and cultures, mingling aesthetic impulses in a tracery of the national imagination. An assured vigour permeates the works, which cross generations and reflect the achievements of celebrated and less well-known artists. Most fascinating, recent acquisitions include works by a striking range of artists of diverse ethnicity. The exhibition includes works by Germaine Arnaktauyok, Sonny Assu, Raphael Bendahan, Kristin Bjornerud, Lucie Chan, Mario Doucette, Brendan Fernandes, Skawennati Tricia Fragnito, Michelle Kuen Suet Fung, Adad Hannah, Susanna Heller, Spring Hurlbut, Annie Kilabuk, Will Kwan, George Littlechild, Mary Longman, Ashok Mathur, Kent Monkman, Juhee Oh, Shelley Ouellet, Timootie Pitsiulak, Ramona Ramlochand, Suzanne Rivard Le Moyne, Brendan Lee Tang, Larry Towell and Stephen Waddell.
The Art Bank was first conceived as an ingenious means of bringing art to the masses through placement in federal government offices that would, at the same time, provide support to visual artists and their dealers through purchase of works of art. Today, disciplined by operational strictures of financial self-sufficiency, new works entering the collection straddle emergent critical practices, representation of national identity and décor, enabling the Art Bank to continue showcasing Canada’s most accomplished artists in workplaces across the country. As the Canada Council Art Bank marks its 40th anniversary, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre’s exhibition and related publication (planned for release in summer 2013) examine the current achievements and conceptual evolution of this resilient program.
Cultural Studies PhD candidate Barbara Meneley has organized a round-table discussion under the title "Diversified: The Art Bank and Canadian Culture," featuring Visiting Scholar Ashok Mathur in discussion with Andrea Fatona and Brendan Fernandes. The panel begins at 7 pm on Thursday 14 March and will be followed by a reception for the exhibition from 8:15-9:30 pm.
The Art Bank in the 21st Century was curated with the research assistance of Johanna Plant and Sarah Murray, graduate students in the Department of Art History and Art Conservation, Queen’s University.
Agnes Etherington Art Centre
Generous support for this exhibition is provided by the George Taylor Richardson Memorial Fund.