#AGHBeaverHall: 1920s Modernism in Montreal

Sunday, 13 March 2016

I spent a lot of my early twenties snapping photos that I probably shouldn't have at Ottawa's National Gallery of Canada. I'd wait until the sombre-looking security guard turned away for a moment so I could document the piece of work I was admiring. A natural archivist, I wanted proof that I had been been in the presence of that exact painting at that exact moment.

I was never completely sure of the rules surrounding photography at galleries, but snapping photos always seemed like something I had to do clandestinely. That's why I am such a fan of the Art Gallery of Hamilton's new Social Media Influencer Nights that allow bloggers to get up-close-and-personal with works of art, while also photographing, tweeting, instagramming, etc.

If you missed my post about the first Social Media Influencer Night, see it here. 

The 1920s Modernism in Montreal: The Beaver Hall Group exhibit is on view February 20 to May 8, 2016, and it chronicles the bold and experimental group at the forefront of modern paining in Canada in the 1920s.

From the Art Gallery of Hamilton's website:
The painters associated with Montreal’s Beaver Hall Group (so named for the location where they shared studio and exhibition space) were among Canada’s most avant-garde artists of their day and yet until now their contribution as an association has yet to be fully researched and presented. 
The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts has righted the situation and organized the first major exhibition to shed new light on this pivotal association of artists. In essence, the Beaver Hall Group was to Montreal what the Group of Seven was to Toronto. But rather than offering an image of Canada’s identity through the depiction of untamed landscapes, they showed their attachment to the portrait and to humanized cityscapes and landscapes. 
The exhibition levels the art historical playing field. In locating the activities of this Montreal group in a national context, we are given a broader view of the artistic landscape in Quebec, Ontario and indeed Canada. This is particularly important as the Beaver Hall Group has always, in part, been characterized by its female membership. As the first association of its kind in Canada to bring together professional women artists, it provided both a community and public forum for their activities and the development of their practices, another sign of the Group’s progressive, modern nature.
The paintings in this exhibit are diverse and plentiful, but for me, a self-professed history nerd, the painstaking research and careful analysis that must have happened to make this exhibit possible are what blew me away. The exhibit places the Beaver Hall Group in history through ephermeral evidence — an invitation, books of significance, certificates. #AGHBeaverHall brings together art and history in an exhibit that would seem at home in a museum of history or an art gallery.


Also on exhibit is #AGHJohnScott, rather Fearful Symmetry: The Art of John Scott, which includes 28 works on paper as well as Trans AM Apocalypse No. 3, (1998-2000), "an actual car, which the artist painted matte, incising on the surface words from the Book of Revelation that refer to the apocalypse." Ah, the melding of the literary and visual arts.


Fearful Symmetry: The Art of John Scott is on view February 6 to May 15, 2016.

Gallery Hours:
​Tuesday & Wednesday, 11 am - 6 pm; Thursday, 11 am - 8 pm;
Friday, 11 am - 6 pm; Saturday & Sunday, 12 noon - 5 pm

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