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Heart of the House

Art & the West Coast Modern Home

January 28, 2023 - May 14, 2023 Curated by Steven McNeil, Curator of Historical & Canadian Art

The phrase West Coast Modern instantly brings to mind images of mid-century buildings: clean lines, flat roofs, large windows, and seamless integration between art, architecture and landscape. But what did these idealized houses contain?

This exhibition highlights a selection of art and objects associated with West Coast modernism and the domestic interior from the mid twentieth-century. The works included come from the AGGV’s permanent collection as well as selected private collections. The exhibition considers these works of art as integral to the concept of modern living that developed in mid-century British Columbia, whether part of a fully integrated interior or simply objects made and enjoyed by artists and collectors active in the mid-20th century.

The exhibition includes works made and collected by architects and owners of noteworthy modernist houses in British Columbia, including BC Binning (1909-1976), Jessie Binning (1906-2007), John di Castri (1924-2005), Jack Shadbolt (1909-1998), Nicholas Abkhazi (1899-1987) and Peggy Abkhazi (1902-1994). It also includes a selection of works by these artists and their peers, that although were not made for noteworthy West Coast Modern Houses, share a common aesthetic with those that were, and form part of a larger effort to infuse homes of various designs and ages with modern art. The goal is for visitors to see works that were significant to the fusion of art and architecture in mid-century British Columbia.

Learn more by watching the panel talk on our YouTube Channel:

Image Credits (L-R): Gordon A. Smith (Canadian, 1919 - 2020), Coast Range, n.d., oil. Leon & Thea Koerner Foundation Funds. AGGV 1960.040.001; Takao Tanabe (Canadian, b. 1926), Home, 1967, oil. Gift the Artist. AGGV 2004.031.012; Molly Lamb Bobak (Canadian, 1922 - 2014), Supermarket, 1950's, oil. Gift of Dr. & Mrs. S.G. Ruskin. AGGV 1982.045.001.
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