After reporting excellent attendance figures once again for 2015, the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) expects to repeat its success in 2016 with an equally exciting, memorable program, for arts lovers and anyone seeking engaging, enriching cultural experiences. From the compelling life story and remarkable talent of Marie Antoinette’s portraitist, Elisabeth Louise Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun, to spectacular works of art by a roster of renowned artists such as Ron Mueck, Evan Penny, Ugo Rondinone, Louise Bourgeois, Karin Sander, Picasso, Chris Cran, Josef Sudek, and Alex Janvier, the Gallery will present an accessible, rich and diversified exhibition program throughout the year.
As well, visitors to the Gallery will be captivated by talks with renowned American artists Kiki Smith, Theaster Gates, and Anne Chu as part of the returning Contemporary Conversations Series, organized in collaboration with the Embassy of the United States in Ottawa as well as the conversations with special guests as part of the TIFF film screenings.
The intimate and monumental work of Vigée Le Brun in Ottawa this summer
The first true international retrospective and first in North America, the exhibition Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842): The Portraitist to Marie Antoinette will be on view in Ottawa from June 10 to September 11, 2016, following its great success at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York this winter and the Grand Palais in Paris last fall.
“We are delighted to shine the light on Madame Vigée Le Brun’s work this summer. For too long, art history has overlooked the singular journey of this great, gifted and innovative artist,” said NGC Director and CEO Marc Mayer. “I’m sure Canadians who are interested in history will be astounded by the exceptional talent and extraordinary life of Vigée Le Brun in a rapidly changing Europe. She remains to this day a model of determination for those who seek to fulfill their ambitions.”
The exhibition space will be staged to showcase Vigée Le Brun’s works and highlight the three different phases of her career. The rooms devoted to the period before the French Revolution will be painted ‘Marie-Antoinette blue’, while those representing the artist’s twelve years in exile will be ‘Pompei red.’ Finally, her lengthy swansong will be shown against a grey background.
Of note, the Ottawa exhibition will feature, in a North-American exclusive, nine portraits on loan from three Russian museums, including the prestigious State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Among the 87 works presented will be the superb oil on canvas representing the Countess Anna Ivanovna Tolstaya, 1796, the first Vigée Le Brun to enter a Canadian public collection, thanks to a generous donation to the National Gallery of Canada by a Canadian collector.
Considered the most important female painter of her time, Vigée Le Brun started painting at the age of 12, following her father’s example. Early on she revealed a brilliant talent. At age 23, she became the official portraitist of Queen Marie-Antoinette, whose royal protection would allow her to become one of the few women to be accepted into the Académie royale de peinture et de sculpture. Forced to leave France in the wake of the French Revolution, the artist visited the great capitals of Europe – in Italy, Austria, Russia and Germany, then in England and Switzerland – during which time her prestige and reputation continued to grow. This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Canada, the Réunion des musées nationaux/Grand Palais in Paris and The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. #VigéeLeBrun
Big names of Canadian, Indigenous, and international art featured at the Gallery
In addition to the exhibition devoted to Vigée Le Brun, the NGC will present in 2016 a wide range of exhibitions, including:
Picasso: Man and Beast. The Vollard Suite of Prints – From April 29 to September 5, 2016, the Gallery presents – for the first time in Ottawa in nearly sixty years – 100 remarkable etchings by Pablo Picasso. Chief among the artist’s graphic work and treasures of the national collection, these prints explore the constant tension between man and beast.
Chris Cran: Sincerely Yours – From May 20 to September 5, discover one of Canada’s most notable contemporary artists through the largest survey exhibition ever devoted to Chris Cran. The exhibition features over 100 paintings and drawings filled with humour and inventiveness and produced over the last forty years. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Alberta as part of the NGC@ exhibition series, with the generous collaboration of the Southern Alberta Art Gallery. Sponsored by Enbridge.
Sobey Art Award – For the first time in 2016, the Gallery is managing the Sobey Art Award, a prestigious honour for contemporary Canadian art. The exhibition will feature works by the five finalists, representing the five regions of Canada – West Coast and the Yukon; Prairies and the North; Ontario; Quebec; and Atlantic. On view from October 5 to February 5, 2017. This award recognizes Canadian artists ages 40 under.
Alex Janvier – From November 25, 2016, to March 26, 2017, the Gallery presents a large retrospective covering five decades of the remarkable career of Indigenous artist Alex Janvier, from the 1960s to the present day. The exhibition showcases more than 100 of his most impressive drawings and paintings, drawn from public and private collections across Canada. The exhibition celebrates this extraordinary artist’s lifetime of creativity, knowledge and perspective gained from his love of the land, art and Dene culture.
Canadian Photography Institute
Established by the NGC last November and made possible by the support of Scotiabank, Founding Donor of the Canadian Photography Institute (CPI), and by a generous donation from David Thomson, the CPI will present its first two exhibitions in 2016:
Cutline: The Photography Archives of The Globe and Mail – An exhibition drawn from a selection of 175 photographs and the descriptive captions on their backs, which reveal fascinating stories and highlight tropes and practices employed by news photographers and picture editors. What emerges is an expression of Canadian identity unselfconsciously disclosed. Organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada, The Globe and Mail and the Archive of Modern Conflict. Presented by Scotiabank, Founding Partner of the Canadian Photography Institute. On view in Toronto as part of the Scotiabank Photography Festival, in The Globe and Mail’s Old Press Hall, from April 29 to June 26, 2016, and later this fall in Ottawa.
Josef Sudek (1896-1976): The World at my Window comprises more than 150 photographic works by this celebrated Czech artist. This is the first major exhibition to situate the work and life of Sudek within the rich artistic environment of Prague in the first part of the twentieth century. Organized by the Canadian Photography Institute of the National Gallery of Canada. On view from October 28, 2016, to March 19, 2017.
During the summer, the Gallery will extend its opening hours by one hour, from May 21 to September 11. Until April 30, the NGC is open from Tuesday to Sunday, from 10 am to 5 pm, and on Thursdays until 8 pm. It opens every day from May 1st to September 30th.
Admission fees to Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842): The Portraitist of Marie Antoinette will be as follows: $16 (adults); $14 (seniors and full-time students, ID required); $7 (youth: 12-19); $32 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Admission to Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun (1755-1842) includes regular admission to the NGC Collection. Tickets will be available online as of April 15 at ShopNGC.ca
Regular admission to the NGC Collection is: $12 (adults); $10 (seniors and full-time students, ID required); $6 (youth: 12-19); $24 (families: two adults and three youth). Admission is free for children under the age of 12 and for Members. Free admission on Thursdays from 5 pm to 8 pm (except for the Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun exhibition). For more information, call 613.998.8888 or 1.888.541.8888.
NGCmagazine.ca, the National Gallery of Canada’s online magazine, is a frequently updated source of information on the Canadian art world and events at the National Gallery of Canada. Correspondents from across the country provide engaging and exclusive content on historical and contemporary art in Canada. This online magazine also includes interviews with artists.
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The National Gallery of Canada is home to the most important collections of historical and contemporary Canadian art. The Gallery also maintains Canada's premier collection of European Art from the 14th to the 21st century, as well as important works of American, Asian and Indigenous Art and renowned international collections of prints, drawings and photographs. In 2015, the National Gallery of Canada established the Canadian Photography Institute, a global multidisciplinary research centre dedicated to the history, evolution and future of photography. Created in 1880, the National Gallery of Canada has played a key role in Canadian culture for well over a century. Among its principal missions is to increase access to excellent works of art for all Canadians. For more information, visit
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