The contemporary art collection is the beating heart of the National Gallery of Canada. Engaging with living artists, the contemporary collection represents current trends in the art world while continuing to build upon and create relationships to the museum’s historical works. As one of Canada’ foremost places to experience contemporary art, the gallery is a site for exchange, debate and contemplation.
Our collection reflects the dynamism of art today. Seeking out different ways to engage with the larger social and political state of the world, contemporary artists continue to choose interdisciplinary modes of self-expression that transcend and explode the traditional categories, materials and genres of art. Video artists Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno examine the cult of celebrity and new forms of portraiture with their large-scale video installation Zidane, A 21st Century Portrait, while Brian Jungen’s People’s Flag stitches together complex issues surrounding the environment, community and labour. Participatory works such as BGL’s The Discourse of Elements take over and engulf the exhibition space, creating an interactive archive of their sculptural interventions, while the delicate, fairytale-like drawings of Shary Boyle connect art history’s past to its current trajectories. The collection not only reflects the hybridity that exists within art production today, but also serves to position Canadian artists within a larger international context, to explore both our place within, and the importance of, contemporary art today.
The presentation of the contemporary art permanent collection changes every three to six months in order to offer visitors a rich and varied encounter with a selection of the best of contemporary art produced in Canada and internationally over the past three decades. Moving through some 3000 square metres of exhibition space, visitors experience a range of thematic, monographic, and at times chronological displays; links and relationships are proposed between diverse works in sculpture, painting, video, film, drawing and installation as the viewer moves from room to room. Incorporating newly acquired works, the display of the permanent collection takes pulse of contemporary art production in Canada and internationally, as well responding to the world in which we live.