This black-and-white photograph presents an oblique view of a multistory building with large dark windows. The tight framing reveals only part of the architecture, whose structure occupies the entire surface of the image.

John Vanderpant

(Alkmaar, Netherlands, 1884 – Vancouver 1939)


Window Patterns


Gelatin silver bromide print

34.6 x 26.7 cm

Malcolmson Collection

Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson in partnership with a private donor, 2014

Art Gallery of Ontario, 2014/699

© Art Gallery of Ontario

Window Patterns is an architectural view rendered with the visual vocabulary typical of 1920s and 30s Modernist photography. The oblique angle shot and tight framing focus on the building’s structure to reveal its formal qualities. The play of light and shadow emphasizes the angles of the modern architecture. At the same time, the straight lines and the dark windows treated like geometric shapes lend the photograph a resemblance to abstract art. John Vanderpant’s exploration of form made him the leading exponent of the international Modernist photography movement in Canada.

The Dutch photojournalist John Vanderpant immigrated to Canada in 1911 after visiting the country on assignment. Initially a commercial portraitist, he went on to develop a style that straddled Pictorialism and Modernism, the movements that dominated photography in the early 20th century. Vanderpant rapidly gained fame as his work was shown in solo exhibitions in Canada and abroad, and won a host of awards at international salons. He also helped advance Canadian photography by publishing articles, giving lectures all around the country and organizing exhibitions.


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