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Important Moments in Canadian Art History

Compiled by Dr. Robert J. Belton

1968 to Present

1968
General Idea -- Jorge Zontal, A.A. Bronson, and Felix Partz (all pseudonyms) -- begins planning its performances and other non- traditional art activities. Paterson Ewen moves to London, Ontario. Bill Lobchuk opens the Grand Western Canadian Screen Shop in Winnipeg. Greg Curnoe's huge mural for the Montréal International Airport is removed for alleged anti-Americanism. Douglas Cardinal's unconventionally organic and expressive St. Mary's Church appears in Red Deer, Alberta. Alberta's provincial flag is officially approved. Fashion/Canada is established to promote Canadian clothing design. The National Association for Photographic Art is founded in Scarborough. Dimensions, an arts quarterly, appears in Fredericton. Rotunda is first published by the Royal Ontario Museum.

1969
The Baxters incorporate N.E. Thing Co. The Professional Artists of Canada is founded to unite seven pre-existing associations. A Stamp Advisory Committee is formed to approve artists' designs for postage stamps. The Northwest Territories and Saskatchewan adopt official flags. Document, Image Nation, and Camera Canada begin their runs in Toronto, and Canadian Art News appears in Ottawa. Five Cent Review appears for one issue in Montréal. The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts first publishes its quarterly review entitled M.

1970
Parks Canada initiates the Canadian Inventory of Historic Building. Richard Sewell opens Toronto's Open Studio, an influential printshop for contemporary artists. The Toronto alternative gallery A Space organizes workshops to introduce video to contemporary artists. Similar activities are begun at Vidéographe in Montréal and in Halifax at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Communiqué appears in Ottawa, and O (a.k.a. Echo), Impressions and Canadian Photography appear in Toronto. OVO Photo and Photography North are first published in Montréal and Québec, respectively.

1971
Bill Vazan's World Line conceptually links twenty five locations on the face of the earth. The Association des graveurs du Québec is formed. Wieland's National Gallery show, "True Patriot Love," attracts attention for its nationalism, its feminist reclamation of traditional techniques like quilting, and its technical innovations. Sylvia Spring becomes the first Canadian woman to direct a fictional feature film, Madeleine Is... (sic). The Winnipeg Art Gallery moves to new quarters. The Canadian Association of Professional Conservators is founded in Ottawa. Impulse magazine first appears in Toronto, Médiart appears in Montréal, and B.C. Photographer appears in Vancouver.

1972
A new phase of technologically expressive architecture is initiated with the designs of Zeidler, et al. for the McMaster Health Sciences Centre in Hamilton. The Canada Council establishes its Art Bank programme. Video Inn is formed in Vancouver to promote video art. The Société des graphistes du Québec is founded. The Newfoundland and Labrador Crafts Development Association is formed in St. John's. The short-lived Beaux-arts and the hardier Ateliers appear in Montréal. The influential vehicle of General Idea, File, first appears in Toronto. The influential Vanguard begins its run as a broadsheet published by the Vancouver Art Gallery.

1973
Heritage Canada is established. The alternative gallery Western Front is formed in Vancouver, immediately helping to organize the Matrix International Video Conference. Forest City Gallery opens in London, Ontario. Interface magazine appears in Victoria. Mix jointly appears in Wolfville and Saskatoon. Only Paper Today, Queen StreeT [sic] Magazine, Re-Visions, and Canadian Photo Annual begin their runs in Toronto. The Canadian Conference of The Arts begins printing a Bulletin. In a rented apartment in Montréal, several women artists organize a temporary exhibition which evolves into the Powerhouse Gallery, an influential feminist alternative. Université Laval first publishes a Revue annuelle de photographie. The Embroiderers' Association of Canada is formed in Vancouver. The Nova Scotia Designer Crafts Council is formed in Halifax.

1974
The Council for Business and the Arts is developed to encourage corporate sponsorship of museums, galleries, and other arts institutions. Vincent Trasov runs for mayor of Vancouver as Mr. Peanut. Two academic journals, Racar (Revue d'art canadien/Canadian Art Review) and the Journal of Canadian Art History, begin publication in Toronto and Montréal, respectively. More freewheeling are Review, published in London, Ontario by the Association for the Documentation of Neglected Aspects of Culture in Canada, and Carot, a trade paper published by CAR/FAC. Canadian Indian Artcrafts begins appearing in Ottawa, and Criteria appears in Vancouver. The Society of Graphic Designers of Canada is formed (receiving its charter two years later). The National Film Board opens a women's studio. The Fashion Designers Association of Canada is formed. The Association for Native Development in the Performing and Visual Arts is formed. The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada and the Canadian Crafts Council are formed in Ottawa.

1975
The Ceramic Masters organization is established to replace regional associations with a national one. Artswest first appears in Calgary, and Artviews, Photographic Canadiana and Onion first appear in Toronto. The influential arts journal Parachute, not to be confused with a newspaper of the same name from Peterborough (founded 1974), begins its run in Montréal. CAR/FAC News begins its run in Winnipeg. Images and Information appears in Calgary. The Society for the Study of Architecture in Canada publishes its first News/nouvelles in Ottawa. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria publishes its first Arts Victoria. Canada's first graphic art and design conference takes place at the University of Alberta. The Canadian contribution to the Prague Quadrennial of theatrical design wins the first of several honourable mentions. Michael Snow finds applications for conceptual art in bookmaking (Cover to Cover) and music recording (Musics for Piano, Whistling...). F. R. Crawley wins an Oscar for his film The Man Who Skied Down Everest. The National Gallery of Canada holds a major exhibition of seven contemporary women artists. The Surrey Art Gallery opens.

1976
Webb, Zerafa, Menkes, and Housden becomes the country's largest practice and designs the ostentatious Royal Bank Plaza, Toronto. Montréal's retrospective "Corridart," organized by Melvin Charney and others, is ordered destroyed by mayor Jean Drapeau. The Society of Canadian Painter-Etchers and Engravers merges with the Canadian Society of Graphic Art to form the Print and Drawing Council of Canada. Toronto's Artists in Stained Glass becomes the first Canadian organization specifically fostering glass art. Michael Snow is the first Canadian to have a major exhibition of avant-garde artist's film at the influential Museum of Modern Art, New York. Ned Baldwin completes the designs for the CN Tower in Toronto (usually attributed to John Andrews), making it the tallest free-standing structure in the world. (I am grateful for the correction supplied by Robert Fulford.) The Association of National Non-Profit Artists' Centres is formed in Toronto. The Ontario Crafts Council is founded in Toronto. Photo Life appears in Vancouver, Cairn appears in Banff, Centrefold appears in Calgary, Bridge City Review is published in Saskatoon, Touch/touche appears in Winnipeg, Parallelogramme begins its run in Vancouver and Toronto, and Photographers in Nova Scotia appears in Halifax. The Centre for Experimental Art and Communication in Toronto publishes a newspaper entitled Strike, almost immediately changing its name to Art Communication Edition. The Architectural Conservancy of Ontario, dedicated to preservation of regional heritage, begins publishing a journal called Acorn. The Review of Architecture/Landscape Architecture first appears in Toronto under the name Griffin. Charlottetown's Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum publishes its first Museum Bulletin.

1977
Postmodernism starts to appear in buildings like Peter Rose's Bradley House, North Hatley, P.Q. Zeidler et al. give a new twist to the Crystal Palace theme of the nineteenth century in their Eaton Centre, Toronto. Raymond Moriyama's interior of the Metro Toronto Library is organically fluid. Co Hoedeman wins an Oscar for The Sand Castle, an animated film featuring creatures made of sand. The Association des architectes en pratique privée du Québec opens in Montréal. The Canadian Art Therapy Association is formed in Toronto. Artists Review and Photo Canada first appear in Toronto, Imprint appears in Peterborough, Virus appears in Montréal, and Popular Illusion appears in Vancouver. The Architectural Institute of British Columbia publishes AIBC Forum. The Confederation Centre's one-year-old Museum Bulletin evolves into the influential ArtsAtlantic.

1978
The Conseil de la sculpture and Conseil de la gravure are organized in Québec. The Canada Council splits into two sections, one responsible for artistic production and another, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, chiefly supporting academic research. The Center for Art Tapes is founded in Halifax. The Canadian Craft and Hobby Association is formed in Calgary. The Manitoba Crafts Council is formed in Winnipeg. Missing in Action appears in Toronto, and a critical broadsheet entitled Rude appears in London.

1979
Philanthropist, collector, designer, and scholar, Phyllis Lambert founds the Canadian Centre for Architecture. Photo Communiqué begins publication. Paul Wong and others organize in Vancouver the Living Art Performance Festival.

1980
Brian Dyson founds Syntax (the Calgary International Artists' Contact Centre). Ottawa's Department of Communications takes responsibility for federal arts funding from the Department of the Secretary of State. Ydessa Handeles opens the influential Ydessa Gallery in Toronto. Alberta is officially granted the crest and supporters of its coat of arms. Newfoundland officially adopts its provincial flag.

1981
The Montréal Museum of Fine Arts mounts a provocative exhibition on art and feminism. The National Film Board's Not a Love Story attains notoriety. The International Phototherapy Association is founded in Vancouver. The Canadian Society of Decorative Arts is formed in Toronto.

1982
J. Michael Kirkland and Edward Jones win the competition for the new City Hall in Mississauga with a Postmodern design of historic eclecticism.

1983
artmagazine and artscanada cease publication. The Canadian Film Development Corporation changes its name to Telefilm Canada. The National Art Therapy Council of Canada is founded in Ottawa.

1984
A new version of Canadian Art and C (a.k.a. C Magazine) begin publication from radically different points of view. While the former is directed at the general reader, the latter is specifically aimed at the intellectual art community. Manitoba's coat of arms officially receives its crest and supporters. The Saskatchewan Arts Alliance is formed in Regina.

1985
The National Gallery of Canada is affiliated with a new Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. The Vancouver Art Gallery hosts a show of neo-expressionist entitled "Young Romantics." An important symposium on Feminism and Art takes place in Toronto. Brigitte Berman wins an Oscar for her documentary film Artie Shaw: Time Is All You've Got.

1986
Auction prices for Canadian art works reach an all-time high with a Lawren Harris reaching nearly half a million dollars. A governmental committee reviews federal arts funding, recommending annual increases to the year 2000. The Corporation des métiers d'art du Québec begins a series of important annual exhibitions of craft art. Saskatchewan's coat of arms receives an official crest and supporters. An association called Arts and the Cities is formed in Toronto. Applied Arts Magazine begins publication.

1987
The funding programmes of the National Museums Corporation cease and are replaced by those of the Department of Communications. British Columbia's coat of arms receives an official crest and supporters. Andrew Danson exhibits a series of experimental portraits of Canadian politicians photographing themselves. Arthur Erickson designs a new building for the Robert McLaughlin Art Gallery in Oshawa.

1988
With Phyllis Lambert, Peter Rose designs the new building housing the Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal. The Art Gallery of Southwestern Manitoba opens in Brandon.

1989
The London Regional Art Gallery amalgamates with the local historical board to become the London Regional Art and Historical Museum. Arthur Erickson closes his Toronto offices. A certain amount of controversy greets Moshe Safdie's new National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa and Douglas Cardinal's new Canadian Museum of Civilization in Hull. The Federation of Canadian Artists is founded in Vancouver. The University of Western Ontario and Georgian College initiate a joint summer school, the Canadian Centre for the Arts, in Owen Sound, Ontario.

1990
Rick Gibson provokes the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by proposing to crush Sniffy the Rat as part of a Vancouver performance (Jan.). The City of Vancouver gives its Heritage Award to Princeton Developments Ltd. and Confederation Life for its restorations of McCarter and Nairne's Marine Building (Feb.). The National Gallery comes under prolonged attack for spending 1.76 million dollars on a painting by American Barnett Newman (Mar.). The Royal Ontario Museum is attacked as racist on the occasion of an exhibition of African artifacts collected by colonial interests. Graduates of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design hold an exhibition in four Halifax laundromats. The Corporate Art Collectors Association is founded in Montréal. The federal government amends the Income Tax Act, giving the Cultural Property Review Board the power to set the value of donations to museums and galleries and thus to control the tax benefits of such gifts.

1991
Jana Sterbak's exhibition of a dress of raw meat at the National Gallery draws media attention and is accused of wastefulness in an era of food banks. Gallery staff receive telephone threats and mail smeared with excrement. Arthur Erickson consolidates his architectural operations in Vancouver, abruptly closing his Los Angeles offices because of financial problems. The Canada Council releases a report entitled The Politics of Inclusion/Exclusion: Contemporary Native Art and Museums (Mar.). The local vice squad closes an exhibition of posters about AIDS prevention at the University of Western Ontario (Apr.). The London Regional Art and Historical Museum is plagued by complaints regarding the lack of a curator of contemporary art and its allegedly unprofessional handling of archaeological artifacts in an adjacent excavation. An exhibition at Toronto's Power Plant draws criticism for including a large scale statue of Lenin, even as similar works are being torn down in Russia. A statue of Louis Riel in front of the Winnipeg Legislature is defaced as an insult to Metis dignity. A sculpture of 1919, depicting the unconfirmed crucifixion of a Canadian soldier in World War I, is put on display for the first time in over seventy years at the Canadian War Museum. The Canadian Art Foundation is formed in Toronto.

1992
The Assembly of First Nations and the Canadian Museums Association produce a joint Task Force Report on Museums and First Peoples. The already notorious Pisschrist (1989) of American Andreas Serrano raises community hackles at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Jan.). A gallery in Kelowna, B.C. shows Julie Oakes' paintings about deforestation, aggravating timber workers already suffering from the effects of recession (Mar.). Student works are excluded from an exhibition at Concordia University in Montréal because of putatively racist stereotypes. Gerald R. McMaster's and Lee-Ann Martin's long-awaited "Indigena," a major traveling exhibition of contemporary Native Canadian art commenting on the Columbian Quincentenary, opens at the Canadian Museum of Civilization (Apr.). "Nuances," a collaboration between photographers in Québec and Newfoundland, intends to contribute to Canadian unity by showing how much people are alike (May). The Royal Ontario Museum mounts its first popular culture show, choosing teenage lifestyles in Toronto. A show of paintings by Wanda Koop and two others, destined for the World's Fair in Sevilla, Spain, is cancelled due to unexpected costs. The Art Gallery of Ontario announces layoffs of 224 employees and a closure of seven months (Jul.). Parliament Hill buzzes over Barbara Woodley's decision to publish a two year old photograph of Justice Minister Kim Campbell with bare shoulders. Greg Curnoe is killed in a cycling accident. A billboard showing two women kissing and the caption "Lesbian is not a dirty word" raises community hackles in Winnipeg (Dec.). Renovations, expansions and/or new facilities are undertaken by the McCord Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art, and Montréal Museum of Fine Arts in Montréal; the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto; and the Museum of Contemporary Photography on Ottawa.

1993
Readers of the Vancouver Sun are upset over an editorial cartoon of Justice Minister Kim Campbell as a female warrior à la Madonna (Mar. 3). Douglas Cardinal is awarded the Molson Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canada Council (Mar. 8). The Canada Council announces serious funding cutbacks (Mar. 13). The Art Gallery of Hamilton announces layoffs and a four-day work week due to deteriorating funding (Apr.). The Art Gallery of Ontario sues the Cultural Property Review Board over the valuation of donated works of art. Newly created Jean A. Chalmers Awards are given to Jeff Wall and Francois Houdé for visual arts and crafts, respectively (May 19). There is heated debate in Vancouver over the proposed inscription for a public monument to "all the women murdered by men," although Montréal, Ottawa, Toronto and Winnipeg already have similar commemorations (July). In Edmonton, an inukchuk is erected as a memorial to an Inuit hero of two decades before, David Kootook (Aug.). London, Ontario's Forest City Gallery hosts a month-long neighbourhood project called "A Cup for A Cup," in which nearly sixty artists and small-business operators collaborate as equal partners outside the gallery walls (Sept.-Oct.). For the October election, Preston Manning's Reform Party capitalizes on popular sentiment by targeting recent, controversial acquisitions by the National Gallery as examples of government waste and deficit building. Canadian Pacific adds the American flag to its logo. Air Canada's planes get new tail decorations, designed by an American firm. Vancouver artist Gideon Flitt shows paintings describing the oppression of white males. Artist Eli Langer is charged under new child pornography laws for his show of explicit drawings at Mercer Union in Toronto (Dec.). The Art Gallery of Windsor moves into a local shopping mall and, counter to expectations, attendance figures go up.

1994
The deputy prime minister of Alberta questions the Alberta Foundation for the Arts' support of an Edmonton forum on gender roles which included demonstrations of body-piercing, cross- dressing, and tattooing (Mar.). Christopher Leffler, a gay activist graduate art student in Saskatchewan, creates a disturbance by outing a suspected lesbian public official. Metro Toronto Council refuses to grant cultural funding for a gay and lesbian video and film festival. Toronto photographer Jim Allan raises funds for the Hospital for Sick Children with photographs of famous Canadians making faces at the camera (Oct.) Dinosaur illustrator Ely Kish receives the Order of Canada (Nov.)

1995
A series of murals in Chemainus, B.C., initiated by Karl Schutz, wins the American division of the British Airways Tourism for Tomorrow award. An unprecedented touring exhibition of works by women artists on the theme of breast cancer opens at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. Native groups pressure Robert Crosby to return aboriginal artifacts and sacred objects collected by his grandfather, legendary Christian missionary Thomas Crosby, to the Tsimshian, Haida, Coast Salish and others (Feb.). An exhibition of classic sportscars at the Montréal Museum of Fine Arts angers some members of the art establishment (May). The National Gallery cancels a show of works by political artist Dennis Tourbin. The National Gallery's Anne Maheux wins the Rome Prize National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and Historic Preservation from the American Academy in Rome. A string of art robberies plagues the Lower Mainland of British Columbia (Aug.). A David Blackwood etching sells for a record price of $20,900 in an auction at Ritchie's in Toronto (Oct.).

1996
Art Business, an eight-page newsletter founded in 1995, is transformed into Canada's first on-line Art Business Magazine by editor Heather Fraser. It soon changes its name to The Arts Business Exchange. Jubal Brown, an art student at the Ontario College of Art, raises hackles by vomiting (in primary colours, no less) on a Mondrian (in New York's MoMA) and a Dufy (in Toronto's AGO). Topographies, the first major exhibition of emerging artists in British Columbia in a decade, opens at the Vancouver Art Gallery with much fanfare. Ratings of television violence levels are adopted. McMaster University receives a multimillion-dollar legacy from Herman Levy, including funds for the acquisition of non-North American art.

1997
To raise money for AIDS research, Sherbrooke painter Eric Waugh begins what he hopes will be, at about 7200 square metres, the world's largest painting (Apr.). The Canadian Conference of the Arts establishes a Working Group on Cultural Policy for the 21st Century. The town of Coaticook, Québec, hosts an innovative municipal artist-in-residence program (Jun.). Misunderstanding of foreshortening leads many to see a six-toed foot in a photograph of Ontario Premier Mike Harris. Ottawa artist Rob Thompson runs a contest to hire two non-artists to live in a cage for a week to protest the treatment of farm animals. Edmontonian Barbara Paterson is chosen to make a public monument to honour women's rights pioneers (Oct.).

1998
Atom Egoyan is nominated for a 1997 American Academy award for his film The Sweet Hereafter. The American College Art Association holds its annual meeting in Toronto, raising a few hackles for failing to consult with the Universities Art Association of Canada. In an age of postmodern irony, abstract art is rethought in an exhibition in Montréal.

1999
Haligonians protest a risqué billboard advertising a love goddess. Another Prairie politician complains about art, this time about a "musical silo" project underwritten by the Millennium Arts Fund (Jul.). Some Londoners find it offensive that artist Jamelie Hassan displays in a gallery animal artifacts like elephant's-foot umbrella stands which are ostensibly inoffensive in their "proper" home, historic Eldon House. An animal rights activist protests the use of rabbit skins in a Diana Thorneycroft installation in St. Norbert, Manitoba (Sep). Some Torontonians find the works of American Cindy Sherman objectionable in the Art Gallery of Ontario (Oct.).

2000
Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy defends Nadine Norman's Call Girl, a self-explanatory, performance-based exhibit at the Canadian Cultural Centre in Paris, from charges of indecency and mismanagement of funds (Feb.).

Last reviewed shim12/19/2012 11:19:06 PM