National Gallery polishes up a season of silver, impressionism and Klee

The National Gallery of Canada announces cancellations of summer show and biennials of contemporary art.

The impressionists, those long-time champions of blockbuster art exhibitions, will reign once again at the National Gallery this year, though the curator promises this outing will be different.

“How is it different? You’re going to see here a little synthesis of the history of modern art in France, primarily,” says Erika Dolphin, of the Ordrupgaard Collection, which runs May 18 to Sept. 9.

Other highlights of the 12 exhibitions in the gallery’s 2018 season, released Wednesday, include the work of Canadian silversmith Laurent Amiot, an exhibition of Paul Klee, and a multidisciplinary presentation by Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier.

Paul Cézanne. Women Bathing, c. 1895 oil on canvas, 47 x 77 cm Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen Photo: Anders Sune Berg

The gallery says the Ordrupgaard “is regarded today as one of Europe’s most beautiful compilations of Impressionist art.” It includes 76 paintings from those collected by Henny and (insurance magnate) Wilhelm Hansen early in 20th century.

Dolphin took over as lead curator of the exhibition when the gallery’s deputy director, Paul Lang, announced his imminent departure. (Lang is leaving to be director of the Musées de la Ville de Strasbourg, his hometown in France.) Dolphin says the Hansens assembled their collection with the intention of donating it to the Danish state, and it includes a “lovely evolution from Délacroix . . . into Monet and Manet.”


Paul Gauguin. Blue Trees. Your Turn Will Come, My Beauty!, 1888, oil on jute sackcloth, 92 x 73 cm
Ordrupgaard, Copenhagen
Photo: Anders Sune Berg

There are works by Gauguin, Cézanne, Pissarro and others, including “two beautiful portraits by Berthe Morisot.” Dolphin adds, “It’s nice to have some women there.”

The first retrospective of work by Laurent Amiot will include 75 pieces “including rare drawings by Amiot presented for the first time to the public, and 16 works by his contemporaries, that illustrate how Canada’s master silversmith elevated silversmithing above craft to fine art,” the gallery says. The exhibition runs May 11 to Sept. 23.

Laurent Amiot, Reliquary-Monstrance of Saint Charles Borromeo (detail) c. 1823. Fabrique Saint-Charles Borromée de Charlesbourg, Quebec City. This was probably commissioned by the fabrique Saint-Charles Borromée to enclose the relic presented by Monsignor Joseph Octave Plessis, April 15, 1823. Photo: NGC

Paul Klee is the focus in the Berggruen Collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, including 75 paintings and drawings by the Swiss artist. Again, the exhibition is from a collection donated by a collector, in this case the dealer Heinz Berggruen. The exhibition, which the gallery says is the first in Canada to focus on Klee in almost 40 years, runs from Nov. 16 to March 17, 2019.

One of Canadian’s best-known painters, Arthur Lismer, will be paired with British painter Harold Gilman in the exhibition Halifax Harbour 1918. It’s part of the gallery’s ongoing Masterpiece in Focus series, and marks the 100th anniversary of the First World War.

The joint presentation with the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia will “examine the shared mission of Gilman and Lismer to record the port of Halifax, and the manner in which this Canadian War Memorials Fund commission pushed the boundaries of their artistic practice.” It runs Oct. 12 to March 17, 2019.

There’s much to be seen in photography on the gallery’s schedule, including some of the medium’s most revered names — Arbus, Mapplethorpe, Cartier-Bresson.

Lorraine Gilbert, Shaping the New Forest (detail), 1990, Purchased 1996. Photo : CPI/NGC (no. 38238.1)

Opening May 4 is the Extended Moment: Fifty Years of Collecting Photographs, and will look at “the birth, enrichment and transformation of the gallery’s photography collection from 1967, when the medium was not yet considered fine art, to 2017.” The exhibition, put together by the Canadian Photography Institute, will include work in various media from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Robert Frank and others. It closes Sept. 16.

Canadian photography star Edward Burtynsky will have large, high-resolution photographs and murals in the exhibition Anthropocene: Human Footprint, which opens Sept. 28, and which will also feature films by Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier. It will consider the effects of human activity on how the natural world works, and will also include “augmented reality.” The exhibition continues to Feb. 24, 2019.

Other photography exhibitions include the New Generation Photography Award Exhibition (April 13 to Aug. 19), Oscar G. Rejlander: Artist Photographer (Oct. 19 to Feb. 3, 2019), and L’arbre est dans ses feuilles (Oct. 19 to Feb. 3, 2019), a video installation featuring Althea Thauberger.

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Peter Simpson, a native of Prince Edward Island, was arts editor and arts editor at large for the Ottawa Citizen for 15 years, with a focus on the visual arts. He lives in downtown Ottawa with one wife, two cats and more than 100 paintings, drawings and sculptures.