Introduction

three canadian artworks This poster for a short film shows a worker cranking a machine. The film’s title, The Labour Front, is written in white capital letters in the lower half of the poster, beneath the image. In this black-and-white photograph, a dancer in a sleeveless dress is performing a choreography on a riverbank, barefoot in the sand. Her legs are spread and her arms are raised wide, making her body form an “X.” Tall trees rise in a winter landscape. The light mottles the snow with bluish and yellowish highlights. Seen from a distance, a man with a whip is urging on a draft animal pulling a load of logs.

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.