The Gallery and Government: the Larger Context
| Français | Introduction
by Hsio-Yen Shih
Pages 1 | 2
The next phase of building repair, planned
for 1979-1980, requires replacement of the air-conditioning plant itself.
The Lorne Building has been the Gallery' s temporary quarters for eighteen
years now, and we must be prepared for extensive and continuous repair
and maintenance. For example, winter conditions in Ottawa have damaged
both the basement and sub-basement workshop areas, now resurfaced, and
the loading ramp, which must still be reconditioned. Meanwhile, there
has been no progress toward the next phase of building a suitable national
gallery for Canada.
Only one major purchase proved to be
possible in this fiscal year - Paul Klee's Angst of 1934. This was
particularly fitting: this year was the centennial of his birth, and marked
the first exhibition of his work in Canada. The exhibition was organized
by the Gallery and was also seen at the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto.
In times of austerity, the Gallery
needs all the help it can get. Happily, more donations came to the Gallery, for which we thank -
The Estate of Alfred Beale, late of London, England;
of Maud Brown, widow of Eric Brown, the Gallery's first director;
Mme Marie Paul LaBrèque of Acton Vale, Quebec, upon
her retirement from the Board of Trustees of the National Museums of Canada;
The XI Commonwealth Games Foundation, Edmonton, Alberta;
Mr Rodney de Charmoy Grey of Geneva, Switzerland;
Ms Naomi Jackson
Groves of Ottawa, Ontario; Ms Phyllis Lambert of Montreal, Quebec;
Mr Herman Levy, O. B. E., of Hamilton, Ontario;
The National Gallery Association Docents;
Dr René Pomerleau of Quebec City, Quebec;
Mr Harold Schaeffer of Ottawa, Ontario;
Mr Charles Tabachnik of Toronto, Ontario;
Mr Joseph M. Tanenbaum of Toronto, Ontario;
Mr Max Tanenbaum of Toronto, Ontario;
Mr Christopher Varley of Edmonton, Alberta;
Mr Peter Zegers of Ottawa, Ontario.
A special vote of thanks is given for
Mr Max Tanenbaum's gift of 35 sculptures from South Asia, dating from the
second to eighteenth centuries. In the next two years, further gifts
of Mughal and Pahari miniature paintings, Indian and Tibetan bronzes, and
Tibetan thankhas, will be forthcoming from Mr Tanenbaum. The Gallery should,
therefore, benefit by receiving an excellent coverage of an entire, new
field for the collections.
In addition, Mr and Mrs Joseph
M. Tanenbaum of the same family have pledged to bequeath their collection
of nineteenth-century French and English works to the Gallery. The exhibition
of their paintings and sculpture, The Other Nineteenth Century, travelled
to four other centres across the country (Victoria, Calgary, Montreal and Toronto).
Private collections were also the source for Twenty-Five African
an exhibition that demonstrated the richness of materials available in Canada.
A Canadian private collection, the Klee
Stiftung in Berne, Switzerland, and the painter's son Felix Klee all contributed
to the Paul Klee exhibition. Moreover, the Pro Helvetia Foundation generously
provided funds towards colour separations for the Klee exhibition catalogue
which has already been widely and favourably reviewed.
During the year twenty-four exhibitions
were circulated to various parts of this vast country. Of these, Joseph
Légaré and Our Own Country Canada received the
greatest interest. Joseph Légaré should continue to
have an effect even after the exhibition has been dismantled. While it
was being viewed in four of Canada's major cities, the Gallery took the
opportunity to collaborate with the National Film Board of Canada in producing
a film. To be premiered in 1980, the Gallery's centennial year, and of
suitable length for television, the film shows not only works by Joseph
Légaré but also how some Canadians perceive that segment
of their history and art.
The Michael Snow exhibition
in Paris, organized by the Gallery, marked the first time an individual Canadian
artist has been featured at the Centre Pompidou. The exhibition,
billed as Snow Storms Paris, was so successful that it continued
to the Boymans-van Beuningen Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands; the
Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn and the Stádlische Galerie im Lenbachhaus
of Munich, the Federal Republic of Germany; and the Kunstmuseum in Lucerne,
The Canadian contribution to the XXXVIII
Venice Biennale, Ron Martin / Henry Saxe, was organized by the Gallery
and subsequently shown at the Centre culturel canadien in Paris. While
we are gratified by the reception given to our exhibitions abroad, it must
also be said that our resources were strained to the limit in these efforts
to reinforce the government's diplomatic activities.
The Gallery's publication efforts
continued to thrive. Catalogues accompanied and remain as records of most
of the Gallery's exhibitions. With these and many other publications, the
Gallery continues to be the primary Canadian publisher in art history.
Its labours were recognized by the Art Libraries Society of North America,
with the 1978 Award for the excellence and diversity of the Gallery's entire
publishing programme, and by the Printing Industries of America Award
for Twenty-Five African Sculptures. Behind the scenes, planning
and preparatory work for the 1980 centennial programme continued. More
than 4,000 new photographs were taken in preparation for the publication
of catalogues of the permanent collections.
Simultaneously, the Gallery's Restoration
and Conservation Laboratory reviewed the condition of works of art stored
outside the Lorne Building. The constant movement of these works into and
out of external storage facilities has resulted in some degree of damage
to almost seventy-five per cent of the works. This is particularly disheartening
as the Gallery's collections in Canadian art, being the largest, must
be stored in other parts of the city, and therefore it is the Canadian
works that have suffered the greatest damage.
The Gallery is proud of its distinguished
past and looks forward to a distinguished future. With the support of
fellow Canadians, and with the greatest fortitude and ingenuity we can
muster, we will be able to cope with the problems of the present.
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