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Full Space

Modern Art from the Firestone Collection

January 20, 2006 - January 20, 2006

The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art is a significant art collection that spans the modern period (1900 – 1980). Collectors O.J. and Isobel Firestone originally established the collection in the early 1950s, when they began acquiring sketches and drawings done by A.Y. Jackson and other members of the Group of Seven. Over time, the Firestones were able to purchase larger works from a wider range of Canadian painters and sculptors. What started as a passion for the mythic landscapes of the Group of Seven resolved itself in a collection of approximately 1600 works by a variety of influential Canadian artists, including Fritz Brandtner, Emily Carr, Clarence Gagnon, Lawren S. Harris, Rita Letendre, Arthur Lismer, David Milne, Alfred Pellan, Marian Scott, Jack Shadbolt and Philip Surrey.

In 1972, the Firestones donated their collection to the Ontario Heritage Foundation in an effort to ensure sustained public access to its holdings. Years later, the Foundation transferred ownership of the collection to the City of Ottawa, which became responsible for its conservation and public access. At that time, the collection was estimated to be worth several million dollars. Since then, the collection has been housed at the Ottawa Art Gallery where it has been cared for and displayed in a series of rotating exhibitions featuring specific artists, art historical themes and movements.

Full Space: Modern Art from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art is the first traveling exhibition of work from the collection organized by the Ottawa Art Gallery. Group opportunities to view paintings made in Canada between 1930 and 1960 are infrequent, particularly those that address the figure, urban themes, architecture and social spaces.

Full Space provides an important opportunity for the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art to be enjoyed by a wide audience, while also emphasizing the diversity of Canada’s visual arts heritage. The exhibition showcases an important collection, in which a range of artistic practices and movements thematically coalesce into a free-floating mosaic.

Artists represented in the exhibition include Maxwell Bates, L?on Bellefleur, Molly Lamb Bobak, Paul-?mile Borduas, Fritz Brantner, Paraskeva Clark, Marcelle Ferron, Marc-Aur?le Fortin, Arthur Lismer, Pegi Nicol MacLeod, Henri Masson, Alfred Pellan, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Marian Scott, Jack Shadbolt, Philip Surrey, York Wilson and others.

This exhibition and catalogue made possible with the generous assistance of Canadian Heritage through the Museums Assistance Program and Bell Canada.

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