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Vision into Reality: Colin Graham and West Coast Modernism

September 18, 2009 - September 18, 2009

For Canada in the 21st century it is pertinent for us to examine the evolution of Canadian art in the context of modernity. The postwar era 1945-1970 marked the expectancy of the modern as a universality. In 1951 Colin Graham became the first director of the AGGV and over the next thirty years he shaped the institution and its collection as a legacy for all. Victoria as well as the entire country is fortunate to have Colin Graham, with his knowledge, commitment, vision, and leadership. Graham recognised and embraced the generation of artists and thinkers coming out of the war. The postwar era was shaped by idealism. The arts, architecture, crafts and design contributed generously to inspire and shape an optimistic society.

Colin Graham and West Coast Modernism transports us to the post-war period when the Gallery was establishing its roots under Colin Graham. Through the exhibition, education, and collecting programs Graham took on the challenge of introducing modern cultural sensibilities to the community that in the decades previous had rejected Emily Carr’s pioneering attempts with modern art. The exhibition explores the period after Carr?s death when Graham built upon her efforts to enliven Victoria’s cultural scene by involving the province’s most forward-thinking artists. These include Jack Shadbolt, Gordon Smith, B.C. Binning, and E.J. Hughes who emerged from the Vancouver School of Art, as well as European artists Herbert Siebner, Richard Ciccimarra, and American artist Margaret Peterson, all of whom settled in Victoria in the mid-fifties. Others arrived from different provinces including sculptors Robert De Castro and Elza Mayhew, Maxwell Bates, and the young innovator Pat Martin Bates. Vision into Reality also includes furniture by local modernist designer Peter Cotton and the work of architect John Di Castri who built the Graham?s own modernist home. This exhibition features works from the AGGV’s collection as well as pieces from private and public collections bringing the modern period to life.

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