National Gallery of Canada launches its Spring-Summer 2021 programming

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National Gallery of Canada launches its Spring-Summer 2021 programming

by ahnationtalk on April 22, 202146 Views

April 21, 2021

  • Five new exhibitions and installations in historical and contemporary art
  • A first major Rembrandt exhibition in Canada in 52 years: Rembrandt in Amsterdam. Creativity and Competition
  • A new curatorial approach that tells the Rembrandt story from three different perspectives: Western, Indigenous and Black
  • Two major commissions by contemporary artists Tau Lewis and Rashid Johnson as part of the new Contemporary Projects initiative
  • Over 230 works from the collection of Dr. Jonathan Meakins and Dr. Jacqueline McClaran—unique in the annals of Canadian private collections—featured in the exhibition The Collectors’ Cosmos. The Meakins-McClaran Print Collection
  • Barcelone, by internationally renowned Quebec artist Geneviève Cadieux, on view for the first time as a monumental photographic work on the Gallery’s exterior south façade

Ankose—Everything is connected—Tout est relié. This sets the tone for the National Gallery of Canada (NGC)’s 2021 spring-summer programming. It reflects the National Gallery’s commitment to the communities it serves and is the guiding principle for the themes and content of its new program of exhibitions and public activities.

“Over the past year, we have been thinking, consulting, and working internally and externally to assess what our next five years will look like. This deep dive resulted in the Gallery’s first ever strategic plan Transform Together. Everything is connected, and our 2021 spring-summer season is bringing this to life,” said NGC Director & CEO Dr. Sasha Suda. “It is our desire and commitment to tell the visual art story in a more comprehensive and inclusive way. More than ever before, it is crucial for the National Gallery of Canada to offer its audiences exhibitions that take into account the historical and recent facts that affect our communities and influence art history. Through their works, artists of all eras reflect the realities in which they live, but it is clear that many realities and voices have been ignored over the decades and centuries. Our role at the National Gallery is not only to present works of art, but to contextualize them and amplify the multitude of voices that make up the visual arts community in Canada and beyond.”

Five new exhibitions and installations make up the National Gallery’s spring and summer program:

Rembrandt in Amsterdam. Creativity and Competition, the first major Rembrandt exhibition in Canada in 52 years, and the first to be presented at the National Gallery of Canada. This exhibition explores Rembrandt’s extraordinary career in the context of the lively art market of Amsterdam, bringing his paintings, drawings and prints into dialogue with stellar works by 20 other artists who were his friends, followers and rivals. It highlights the evolution of Rembrandt’s career as an artist, mentor, and entrepreneur from his arrival in Amsterdam in 1632 to the mid-1650s.

For this major exhibition, the National Gallery of Canada has taken a new curatorial approach by integrating throughout the exhibition newly commissioned and acquired works from both Indigenous and Black artists based in Canada, and bringing multiple voices to contextualize the period in which Rembrandt lived.

Five years in the making, Rembrandt in Amsterdam: Creativity and Competition was conceived by Dr. Stephanie S. Dickey, National Gallery of Canada guest curator, Professor of Art History and Bader Chair in Northern Baroque Art at Queen’s University, Kingston, and an internationally recognized authority on Rembrandt and 17th-century Dutch art, and Dr. Jochen Sander, Vice Director of the Städel Museum and Professor of Art History at Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main. NGC Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, Dr. Sonia Del Re, NGC Interim Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings, Dr. Erika Dolphin, and Curatorial Assistant, Prints and Drawings, Kirsten Appleyard have collaborated on the presentation in Ottawa.

Works featured by Rembrandt include Heroine from the Old Testament, 1632/33, from the National Gallery of Canada’s collection. Among major paintings, drawings and prints by Rembrandt shown for the first time in Canada are The Blinding of Samson, 1636, from the collection of the Städel Museum (Frankfurt); and Landscape with Stone Bridge from the Rijksmuseum (Amsterdam)—one of eight known landscape paintings by Rembrandt.

Key contemporary artworks from the National Gallery of Canada’s Indigenous and contemporary art collections are integrated into the exhibition to understand the impact of colonialism during Rembrandt’s era and beyond. Works featured are by artists Ruth Cuthand (Cree, lives and works in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Kent Monkman (Swampy Cree, lives and works in Toronto, Canada), Skawennati (Kanien’keha:ka and Italian-Canadian, born in Kahnawa: ke, Quebec, Canada, lives and works in Tiohtia: ke [Montreal], Quebec), Greg Staats (Kanien’kehaka, born in Brantford, ON, Canada, lives and works in Toronto, Canada), and Canadian Congolese artist Moridja Kitenge Banza (lives and works in Montreal). The installation is curated by Greg Hill, Audain Senior Curator of Indigenous Art at the National Gallery, and Jonathan Shaughnessy, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art.

​Dr. Joana Joachim, Black feminist art historian; Dr. Gerald McMaster, Director of the Wapatah Centre for Indigenous Visual Knowledge, OCAD University, Toronto; and Rick Hill, artist, writer and curator of the Tuscarora Nation, were invited by Kitty Scott, Deputy Director and Chief Curator of the National Gallery of Canada to collaborate with the exhibition by creating wall texts to bring different perspectives to Rembrandt’s story. Together, they examine the context of Rembrandt’s life in the 1600s, as the Dutch Republic emerged as a colonial power, and the effects on Black and Indigenous people then and now.

Two major new commissions by artists Tau Lewis and Rashid Johnson will also be presented as part of Contemporary Projects, a new National Gallery of Canada initiative focused on commissioning works by contemporary artists for the national collection that are purposefully designed to be displayed in the National Gallery’s public spaces, which until recently have not been used as exhibition spaces.

The large-scale soft sculpture Symphony by Toronto-born, Brooklyn-based artist Tau Lewis, which was presented at Toronto’s Cooper Cole Gallery last fall, has been adapted to fill the Gallery’s Rotunda space. Visitors will discover it as soon as the Gallery reopens, as they walk down the long aisle leading to the contemporary art galleries and out of the Rembrandt exhibition. This is the first work by Lewis to enter the National Gallery’s collection, and one of her most ambitious projects to date. In it, the Jamaican-Canadian artist addresses themes of memory, personal and collective trauma, and the ability to heal, cure and overcome difficulties through craft and labour processes. The installation is curated by Jonathan Shaughnessy, Associate Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGC.

Chicago-born, New York-based artist Rashid Johnson will create a large-scale immersive installation in the glass entrance area at the start of the Colonnade leading to Scotiabank Great Hall. This is one of Johnson’s largest pyramid structure to date. Untitled is an experiential installation that brings together autobiographical, intellectual, musical, art historical and literary sources. For the first time, Johnson has integrated an interior pathway in the work that offers visitors unexpected vistas. He has also included a performance space at its heart to accommodate live performances. Josée Drouin-Brisebois, Senior Curator of Contemporary Art at the NGC, is curating this installation.

The exhibition The Collectors’ Cosmos: The Meakins-McClaran Print Collection will present 233 works from the print collection of Dr. Jonathan Meakins and Dr. Jacqueline McClaran. It will reveal both the strength and breadth of the current collection and the collectors’ love of etching and printmaking. The selection of prints ranges from 15th century German through 17th century Dutch to 20th century European and North American, and will include works by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Alex Colville, Albrecht Dürer, Hendrik Goltzius, Jusepe Ribera, Jacob van Ruisdael, Jean-François Millet and John James Audubon. Organized by the National Gallery of Canada, the exhibition is curated by Dr. Erika Dolphin, Interim Senior Curator of Prints and Drawings at the NGC.

The photographic work Barcelone, 2003–2020, by Quebec artist Geneviève Cadieux, will adorn the south exterior façade of the National Gallery’s building starting this summer. This work will be shown for the first time as a monumental installation. This is the National Gallery of Canada’s first major collaboration with Geneviève Cadieux in over 15 years. Barcelone will remain in full view of passers-by until the fall of 2021.

The National Gallery of Canada thanks its sponsors

The National Gallery of Canada would like to thank Bader Philanthropies Inc. for their generous support of the groundbreaking exhibition Rembrandt in Amsterdam, as well as PACART and Touchstone Exploration, Inc. for their sponsorship. The exhibition is honoured by the royal co-patronage of His Majesty the King of the Netherlands and the Office of the Governor General of Canada. Proud partners include the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Canada and the Canadian Tulip Festival.

The installation Geneviève Cadieux: Barcelone will be presented with the support of the Scotiabank Photography Program at the National Gallery of Canada.

Around the exhibitions and installations

The 2021 spring-summer exhibitions and installations program will be accompanied by an engaging public program of virtual talks, tours, and activities for families. In July and August, the Gallery will offer Family Art Adventures daily, from 10:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., for children aged 3 and up accompanied by an adult, to explore the galleries with a guide, or on your own with a self-guided activity kit. Pick up your kit and book a drop-in tour in the Fred & Elizabeth Fountain Court, located in the heart of the Indigenous and Canadian art galleries. The Gallery’s top priority is the health and safety of its visitors, and will continue to monitor the situation with COVID-19 and ensure that in-person programs are delivered safely, in accordance with the directives of local health authorities.

Admission tickets

Tickets will be on sale at the Scotiabank Great Hall box office when conditions allow the National Gallery to reopen its doors to the public.

For more information on the Gallery’s programming and activities, visit and follow us on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram.

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For media only: For more information, please contact:

Josée-Britanie Mallet
Senior Media and Public Relations Officer
National Gallery of Canada
[email protected]

Denise Siele
Senior Manager Communications
National Gallery of Canada
[email protected]


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