For most contemporary art critics, the term “decorative” is pejorative, implying that a work, while perhaps pretty, lacks content and depth. The decorative arts, it is commonly assumed, have two features that are at odds with what we think of as fine art: decorative art is typically associated with function – glasses, plates, bowls, jars, carpets, clothes – and its purpose is to project a style or mood rather than to transmit meaning and incite dialogue.
Indigenous peoples of the Arctic have been making art for thousands of years. In this exhibit, we will look at an ancient artifact fashioned by unknown hands, the work of the first generation of Inuit artists, and two contemporary Inuit artists whose work has become part of the international art world.
This Collection explores visual arts in Canada through articles, photo galleries, Heritage Minutes and more, and is presented in partnership with Charles Bronfman’s Claridge Collection. Above image: Untitled. Acrylic on canvas, painted by Max Johnson. Courtesy of the Charles Bronfman's Claridge Collection.
Louis Riel is an opera in three acts composed by Harry Somers, with an English and French libretto (opera text) by Mavor Moore and Jacques Languirand. It tells the story of the legendary Métis political and cultural figure, Louis Riel. Arguably Canada’s most famous opera, it was commissioned by the Floyd S. Chalmers Foundation (now the Chalmers Fund) as part of Canada’s centennial celebrations in 1967. It was initially produced by the Canadian Opera Company (COC) with financial assistance from the Canadian Centennial Commission, the Canada Council and the Province of Ontario Council for the Arts (now the Ontario Arts Council). The opera was reimagined in 2017 by Peter Hinton, who sought to better incorporate Indigenous people and perspectives into the production.
The history of Indigenous (Aboriginal) art in Canada begins sometime during the last Ice Age between 80,000 and 12,000 years ago. To date, however, the oldest surviving artworks (excluding finely crafted, aesthetically significant stone tools) are datable to no earlier than 5,000 years ago.
The hotel was developed as part of the CPR’s (Canadian Pacific Railway) network of hotels, which built landmark hotels in young cities across Canada in order to encourage the use of its transcontinental lines. The Banff Springs Hotel is in the lineage of hotels such as the Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta, Le Chateau Frontenac in Québec City and the Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. Known as the “Castle in the Rockies,” the Banff Springs Hotel is predominantly in the Scottish Baronial style, featuring an Arts-and-Crafts interior.
The Caribbean community in Toronto, Ontario, organized this carnival for the first time in 1967 under the name Caribana as part of Canada’s Centennial celebrations. It has since grown into a major summer event, drawing nearly two million people to the city every year. Since 2015, the official name of the festival has been the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, although it is still commonly referred to as Caribana by many.
The years since the Second World War, and continuing into the 21st century, have witnessed an unprecedented expansion in the visual arts throughout Canada, evidenced in the number of professional artists, the proliferation of galleries and exhibitions, the development of art magazines, and the significant expansion of art schools like the Emily Carr University of Art and Design and Ontario College of Art and Design University.
The Prix Iris, formerly known as the Prix Jutra (Jutra Awards), honour distinguished achievement in the Québec film industry. Founded in 1999 as the Prix Jutra, after Québécois filmmaker Claude Jutra, the annual awards ceremony was temporarily renamed the Gala du cinéma québécois in February 2016 following posthumous allegations that Jutra was a pedophile. In October 2016, Québec Cinéma, the organizing body of the awards, announced that a vote open to the public and industry members had determined that Prix Iris would be the new permanent name.
Notre-Dame Basilica of Montréal is located at the intersection of Notre-Dame Street West and Saint-Sulpice Street in the borough of Ville-Marie in Montréal. This jewel of Québec’s religious heritage was built by the Sulpicians over the years 1824 to 1829, to serve as a parish church. It is one of the oldest examples of Gothic Revival religious architecture in Canada. At the time it was built, it was a daring, innovative edifice on a scale unequalled anywhere else in North America. The architect was James O’Donnell, an Irish immigrant to New York City. Its interior decor, which was overseen by Victor Bourgeau, along with its rich ornamentation, are unique and evoke a true sense of wonder in visitors. The Basilica is also one of the major tourist attractions in the city of Montréal.
The alma mater of some of Canada's most important artists, like Group of Seven member Arthur Lismer, the founder of the Painters Eleven Harold Town, and Michael Snow, the Ontario College of Art and Design University has adapted to the 21st century and continues to be a vital force in the art world.
The Cineplex Golden Screen Award for Feature Film (formerly the Golden Reel Award) recognizes the producer(s) of the Canadian feature film that achieved the highest box-office gross in Canada in the previous calendar year. In 2015, the Golden Screen Award for TV Drama/Comedy and the Golden Screen Award for TV Reality Show were introduced to recognize the highest rated Canadian television programs. The winners are presented at the annual Canadian Screen Awards.
Film distribution is one of the three main branches of the film industry, providing the link between film production and exhibition. It is also the most predictably profitable of the three sectors, at least for the large multinational conglomerates that dominate the industry internationally. Film distribution companies supply movies, television programs, videos and new media to outlets such as cinemas and broadcasters in territories where they have acquired rights from the producers. Traditionally, distribution companies are the prime source for financing new productions. The distribution sector has been called “the invisible art” because its practices tend to only concern industry insiders and go unnoticed by audiences. American companies dominate film distribution in Canada and have controlled access to Canadian screens since the 1920s.
Based on an ancient Inuit folktale, Atanarjuat (The Fast Runner) is the first Inuktitut-language feature film ever made. A critically-acclaimed commercial success, it won numerous awards worldwide, including the Camera d’or for best first feature at the Cannes Film Festival and five Genie Awards, including Best Screenplay, Best Direction and Best Motion Picture, as well as the Claude Jutra Award (now the Canadian Screen Award for Best First Feature). It is widely considered one of the best Canadian films ever made, and in 2015 was ranked No. 1 of all time in a poll conducted by the Toronto International Film Festival (see Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time).