Introduction

four canadian artworks This photograph shows an immense illuminated sculpture in the shape of a cross rising above an urban landscape. Within the cross, the vertical word “East” and the horizontal word “Van” intersect at the letter “A.” This installation is composed of 365 puppet-like figurines made of bits of paper and fabric and mounted on metal rods. They are displayed on white blocks arranged to form a long procession. This rectangular coverlet is made of irregular pieces of fabric stitched together with white and coloured thread using traditional quilting techniques. It is embroidered with various motifs (swan, flowers, maple leaves) and names. Two figures appear in the foreground. On the left, a woman in a blue dress and red cape gazes down at a white-robed angel kneeling at her feet. A field of colourful flowers spreads across the background.

The virtual exhibition 150 Years | 150 Works: Canadian Art as Historical Act presents art as an integral part of Canada’s social and political history.

It looks at Canada through works that have in some way shaped or changed the country’s history over the past century and a half.

Most but not all of the works in this panorama are presented according to their year of production: here and there, diverging from chronological order serves to recast historical relationships and challenge traditional perceptions.

Drawn from the collections of major museums, university galleries and private collections, the exhibited works include both well-known icons and little-known surprises. Brief texts discuss each one and interpret the context in which it was madeSupplemental descriptions and images provide a deeper understanding in some cases.

A Few Ways to Explore the Exhibition

You can visit the exhibition by following a timeline of Canadian history or by randomly browsing a mosaic of images that often leads to unexpected juxtapositions.

You can also follow the threads suggested by four categories: representing history, making history, expanding history and reopening history.

Being open-ended, these categories foster exploration of and reflection on Canadian art as historical act.

Use this interactive exhibition to establish your own take on history by selecting works that pique your interest or your curiosity. Then reshape history from your own perspective.