Throughout the history of the Vancouver Art Gallery, gifts from private art collectors have played a vital role in building and expanding the institution’s collection, providing economic support for artists and encouraging discussions of history and culture within the community. The gallery has regularly recognized the quality of these private collections and acknowledged the dedication of their owners with such exhibitions as Real Pictures: Photographs from the Collection of Claudia Beck and Andrew Gruft (2005); Determined Pursuit: Highlights from the Longstaffe Collection (2004); Vancouver Collects (2001).
Continuing in that tradition is Shore, Forest and Beyond, an exhibition of 100 works gathered from the collection assembled by Michael Audain over the past two decades. While his focus has been largely on representations of British Columbia’s geography and culture-together with the works of British Columbia-based artists-from the mid-nineteenth century to the present, another facet of the collection focusses on Mexican modernism through the works of Diego Rivera and Rufino Tamayo, among others.
Arranged thematically, the exhibition and this accompanying publication address the breadth of the collection as well as Audain’s donations to the Vancouver Art Gallery’s holdings. Among the highlights of their Northwest Coast holdings are mid-nineteenth-century masks by Haida, Nuxalk, Salish, Tlingit and Tsimshian carvers as well as contemporary works by such First Nations artists as Robert Davidson, Reg Davidson, Beau Dick, Richard Hunt, Brian Jungen, Marianne Nicolson and Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. Other notable aspects of the British Columbia collection include paintings by Emily Carr, B.C. Binning and E.J. Hughes together with contemporary works by Roy Arden, Gathie Falk, Rodney Graham, Angela Grossman, Ken Lum, Takao Tanabe and Etienne Zack.
Taken together, these artworks speak evocatively to diverse conceptions of place and acknowledge the importance of Audain and his partner, Yoshiko Kurasawa, as patrons who have contributed significantly to the development of Canada’s West Coast as an important centre of contemporary culture.
This book accompanies a show at the Vancouver Art Gallery from October 29, 2011 to January 29, 2012.
Ian M. Thom is a senior curator at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Involved in Canadian art museums for more than thirty years, he has also held senior curatorial positions at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. In addition, he has organized more than one hundred exhibitions and written numerous articles and authored or co-authored several books, including Robert Davidson: Eagle of the Dawn, Andy Warhol: Images, Gordon Smith: The Act of Painting, Art BC, E.J. Hughes, Takao Tanabe, B.C. Binning and Emily Carr.
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