The Nude in Modern Canadian Art, 1920-1950

June 18, 2010 to August 22, 2010

Marc-Aurele de Foy Suzor-Cote, Symphonie pathetique, 1925.

Nudity remains an issue with the power to court public controversy. Some see nudity as merely legitimized nakedness, an insidious means to objectify women especially. For others it is a symbol of unfettered freedom. The scantily attired body remains a favourite resource of modern advertising, able to titillate, offend, and entice all at once. In the visual arts, the nude has enjoyed an equally ambiguous legacy in Canada. For certain brief periods it was a revered subject for creative exploration; at other times it was dismissed as too academic, too derivative of European art for merit. Opinions on the artistic nude have oscillated wildly.

The nude holds a pivotal place in the history of Canadian art. This exhibition offers a powerful and complex look at the artistic nude in Canada in relation to European influences, the impact of the health sciences on body image, as a source of popular entertainment, and the role it played in aesthetic experimentation. It includes more than 110 sculptures, paintings, prints, and photographs representing over 50 artists drawn from major public and private collections from across the country, including the National Gallery of Canada, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. Through works by Lilias Torrance Newton, Paul-Émile Borduas, Alex Colville, as well as Manitobans L.L. FitzGerald and Bertram Brooker, among others, this exhibition brings focus to the nude from its legacy of censorship, dismissal, celebration, and exploration.

Curated by Michèle Grandbois and Anna Hudson; organized and toured by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.

Prudence Heward, Dark Girl, 1935.

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Related Programs & Events

Past Programs & Events

  • Members' event

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 from 12pm to 7:30pm

  • public opening - The Nude in Modern Canadian Art, 1920-1950

    Thursday, June 17, 2010 from 7:30pm to 10pm

  • Canadian Art Highlights Tours

    Wednesday, July 7, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, July 14, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, July 21, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, July 28, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, August 4, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, August 11, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, August 18, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm
    Wednesday, August 25, 2010 from 2pm to 2:30pm

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