WAG WAG Exhibition Examines the Perception of Nudity in Canadian Art

The Nude in Modern Canadian Art, 1920-1950, opening at the Winnipeg Art Gallery looks at how the nude body has been perceived and represented by Canadian artists throughout the first half of the 20th century. There will be a public opening of the exhibition at 7:30pm, Thursday, June 17. It continues until August 22.

Some see nudity as simply legitimized nakedness and an insidious way to objectify women. For others, it is a symbol of unfettered freedom. It’s a favourite resource of modern advertising, able to titillate, entice, and offend all at once.

“The nude holds an ambiguous place in the history of Canadian art,” says Andrew Kear, Associate Curator, Historical Canadian Art. “At times it was a revered subject for creative exploration. At others, it was dismissed as too academic, too derivative of European art. Opinions on the artistic nude have oscillated wildly. This exhibition offers a powerful and complex look at the artistic nude in Canada in relation to European influences, the impact on the health sciences on body image, as the source of popular entertainment, and the role it played in aesthetic experimentation. It brings focus to the nude from its legacy of censorship and dismissal, celebration and exploration.”

“While the exhibition is certainly provocative,” says WAG Director Stephen Borys, “its real significance resides in the fact that it will provide our audience with front row access to works of art created during the Golden Age of Canadian modernism. The WAG is very pleased to host an exhibition that draws on so many revered public and private art collections from across the country.”

The Nude in Modern Canadian Art, 1920-1950 includes more than 110 sculptures, paintings, prints, and photographs representing over 50 artists including Paul-Émile Borduas, Lilias Torrance Newton, Alex Colville, Bertram Brooker, and L.L. FitzGerald. It is curated by Michèle Grandbois, Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec, and Anna Hudson, York University. It is organized and toured by the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec.




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