at the Vancouver Art Gallery

This past Thursday evening Erika and I had a date at the Vancouver Art Gallery. We were there to see several exhibitions, two of which finished today.

1. The biggest attraction was the Monet to Dalí: Modern Masters from the Cleveland Museum of Art

Henri Fantin-Latour
Marie-Yolande de Fitz-James, 1867
oil on fabric
Gift of Lewis C. Williams
© The Cleveland Museum of Art

Monet to Dalí represents the most comprehensive showing of European painting and sculpture in Vancouver in more than half a century. Drawn from the superb collections of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the exhibition consists of more than 80 paintings, drawings and sculpture that demonstrate key examples from the European modernist movement. Organized into four groupings, this exhibition covers a century of art making from 1864 to 1964 and showcases important work by the major Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, early modern sculptors and avant-garde artists interested in Dadaism, Cubism and Surrealism. Most notably, the exhibition includes key works by Manet, Monet, Cézanne, van Gogh, Rodin, Picasso, Dalí and other renowned artists. Together, the works in this stellar collection illuminate the breadth of creativity in one of the most extraordinary epochs in the history of Western art.

Many of the works were wonderful to see, but very difficult and frustrating because of the crowds that would create bottlenecks around the most famous pieces. Even though entry numbers were controlled, there were far too many people in there for decent viewing. I should have gone during a morning rather than an evening of the last week.

Here is more information and a few images of some of the works.

2. On the second floor were the massive works by an artist new to me. Very impressive – he must have an airport hangar for a studio!

House of Oracles: A Huang Yong Ping Retrospective

Huang Yong Ping
11 June 2002 – The Nightmare of George V, 2002
concrete, reinforced steel, animal skins, paint, fabric cushion, plastic, rope, wood, cane seat
Collection of the artist
Installation view, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis Photo: Gene Pittman

House of Oracles is the first retrospective of Huang Yong Ping, one of the most influential contemporary Chinese artists working today. Showcasing paintings, drawings and sculptural installations that evoke the fun house, diorama and menagerie, the exhibition celebrates an artist whose work elegantly traverses the divide between East and West, tradition and the avant-garde.

Renowned for his extravagant large-scale installations, the exhibition will feature more than forty works, including a monumental sculpture that positions a snarling tiger atop an elephant, a 100-foot long wooden python skeleton and the re-creation of a Beaux Arts-style bank using 40,000 pounds of sand. In addition to these spectacular installations, the exhibition includes significant early works from the artist’s career, reflecting his interest in ideas on chance, creative process and divination.

Born in Fujian Province, China in 1954, Huang Yong Ping formed the Xiamen Dada group in 1986. One of the most radical of the Chinese avant-garde artists’ groups active at the time, members were inspired by their interest in the work of Marcel Duchamp, Dada and the role of chance in art. The group’s subsequent activity, particularly Huang Yong Ping’s artistic production, are often considered among the first post-modern works in Chinese art and are credited for opening new channels for other Chinese artists, who until that time were predominantly influenced by the conventions of Socialist Realism.

Since his participation in the seminal exhibition Magiciens de la Terre at the Pompidou Centre in 1989, Huang Yong Ping has lived and worked in Paris and exhibited extensively around the world.

More information

3. On the third floor is Andrea Zittel: Critical Space, still on until September 30th

The first comprehensive North American exhibition to survey her work, Andrea Zittel: Critical Space will present the American artist’s particular interdisciplinary way of working as a designer, engineer, consultant and advocate using the corporate identity “A-Z Administrative Services. For the last decade, Zittel has investigated fundamental aspects of contemporary life in Western societies, notably increased mobility, security, comfort and consumerist packaging. The exhibition focuses on the experimental character of the artist’s signature objects, equipment and projects. It highlights models for and locations of alternative living, including her well known customized trailer-home Escape Vehicles, Uniforms and “units” she has developed for specialized living, working and research.

More information and images.

4. The top floor has Emily Carr and the Group of Seven, mostly the VAG’s collection and some private loans. We did not have time for this one but I’ve seen and enjoyed many of them numerous times over the years.

The three very different exhibitions, all very powerful and satisfying in varying ways, made for a great night of art viewing! I must say that the VAG has been bringing in some very good shows the past few years. No cameras are allowed at the VAG, so I’m sorry not to have photos to show here.

September 16, 2007 in Art Exhibitions by Marja-Leena