The National Gallery of Canada on Sussex Drive is near the Parliament Buildings in Ottawa. It is housed in a magnificent building designed by architect Moshe Safdie. The gigantic spider sculpture Maman by Louise Bourgeois is visible from a distance. The National Gallery of Canada opened in 1988 and the focus is Canadian art but there are some notable works by artists from the USA and Europe.
I visited the National Gallery of Canada specifically to view the contemporary art collection. There are several works by First Nations artists that were described as Pop and a New School of Indigenous Art. Canadian artists from the 1960’s and 1970’s who found inspiration from their cultural traditions as well as developments in the contemporary art scene.
One of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery was by Greg Curnoe – the painting is titled Camouflaged Piano or French Roundels.
There are works by Andy Warhol in the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Canada including Brillo Pads which is a stack of Brillo soap pad boxes made of silkscreen ink and acrylic paint on plywood. There is also the series of 10 screen prints depicting Chinese Communist Leader Mao Zedong which Warhol started creating after President Nixon visited the Chinese leader in 1972. Andy Warhol was seduced by art and money. He chose highly recognizable people and objects for his pop art screen printings.
There have been controversial acquisitions by the National Gallery of Canada. There was the $1.8 million purchase of the painting Voice of Fire by the American painter Barnett Newman in 1989. The painting consists of three vertical stripes in blue, red, and blue. Yes that is it. Three stripes. I love contemporary art but I cannot wrap my brain around the hyper minimalist style. I shall not bore you with an image. Instead I present you with two black circles painted upon the gallery wall by artist Neil Campbell – the work is called Boom Boom. I find it rather dull dull.
While walking around the gallery I thought I heard the voice of Meryl Streep. What was Meryl Streep doing at the National Gallery of Canada? Walking into a viewing room I sat and watched a portion of Him + Her by Candice Breitz who was born in Johannesburg South Africa and is now based in Berlin. I watched Meryl Strep for 20 minutes or so and just a few minutes of Jack Nicholson.
Him + Her consists of 2 digital videos – Him: 28:29 minutes and Her: 23:56 minutes.
Him + Her derives from the artist’s analysis of Jack Nicholson and Meryl Streep films, over which she noticed “a whole slew of clichés about masculinity and femininity that came rushing to the surface” of these iconic American actors’ varied cinematic roles. – National Gallery of Canada
There is a room of paintings from Montreal artists from the 1050’s and these were some of my favorite works. I cannot explain why but I find these paintings intriguing. The painting Natashkouan by Mercel Barbeau is named for the river that flows from the Quebec-Labrador border and drains to the Saint Lawrence. Barbeau visited the area during the summer of 1956.
Here is a close-up of the paining Natashkouan by Montreal artist Mercel Barbeau.
The enormous triptych Pavane by Jean Paul Riopelle is 300 x 550 cm (9.84 x 18 feet) and was created by applying paint directly to the canvas with a palette knife.
The last work I will show you is Column by Ulysse Comtois and it is a favorite of mine due to the fact that the viewer is allowed to touch the work. Viewers are invited to “feel free to give any shape you want to this sculpture. Gently move the aluminum plates.” My creation is pictured below.
I think I did an absolutely stunning job – don’t you think so?! No? Well, I invite you to visit the National Gallery of Canada to try to outdo my creation.
Tell me about your favorite art work – do you enjoy contemporary art or do you prefer more classical works?
A journey through the alphabet with ABC Wednesday Project where people from around the world create and share a weekly post.
Address: 380 Sussex Dr
Phone Number: 1-(613)-990-1985
Hours: During Summer, open daily 10AM – 6PM (open until 8PM on Thursdays). Winter hours are more limited (check here).
Admission Cost (as of July 2015): General admission: $12 adults, $10 seniors and students. Free entry on Thursdays. Special exhibitions have separate prices. Click here for more information.
Tours: Group tours available. Contact: 1-(613)-990-4888
How to Get There: OC Transpo buses #1 or #9. Check the OC Transpo Travel Planner for more info.