Introduction

three canadian artworks This watercolour pictures a carved eagle in profile on top of a totem pole. The blue sky behind the bird is fractured into flat geometric shapes. A few equally schematized trees appear at the lower right. A black-and-white photograph shows a plywood façade seen from an angle. The structure is supported from behind by scaffolding. Cars are driving by in the foreground while skyscrapers appear in the background. This black-and-white photograph shows a woman in overalls with her hair wrapped in a kerchief. Seated on a table, she is smoking a cigarette while gazing at a Bren machine gun. A factory building is visible through the window behind her.

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.