For the first time in western Canada, this exhibition brings together the work of Emily Carr, Georgia O'Keeffe and Frida Kahlo, three extraordinary artists widely acknowledged as outstanding 20th century painters in their respective countries - Canada, the United States and Mexico. Their art reveals a singleness of spirit and a shared fascination with themes of nature, culture and self.
The Vancouver Art Gallery retains one of the most significant Emily Carr collections in the world and is justifiably proud to present this outstanding exhibition. Comprising 56 paintings, the exhibition was inspired by Dr. Sharyn Udall's book of the same name and curated by Dr. Udall for the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. The works will be hung according to artist, inviting an intimate study of individual style yet enabling comparison of common themes.
"The Vancouver Art Gallery is honoured to present the work of three women artists who have become cultural icons of their nation. This exhibition reveals individual creative vision and the shared spirit of courage, passion and integrity", said Kathleen Bartels, Director, Vancouver Art Gallery. "This is the last remaining opportunity to view the work of Carr, O'Keeffe and Kahlo under one roof. It broke previous attendance levels when shown in both Ontario and Santa Fe and we anticipate it will be a huge success in Vancouver."
Each artist felt a connectedness to nature and their work reinvented traditional imagery relating to the natural landscape. With stunning clarity their paintings convey a sense of the landscape as female, from Carr's symbolic forests to O'Keeffe's anthropomorphic plant forms and Kahlo's earth-mother self portraits.
The exhibition also brings to light aspects of the shared histories and cultural differences between Canada, the United States and Mexico. Carr, O'Keeffe and Kahlo interpreted and expressed the essential character of their region. They defined, for the period, a distinct Canadian, American and Mexican experience. Collectively, their work can be seen to play a critical role in defining the art of North America by linking region and nationality.
Emily Carr (1871-1945) was born in British Columbia, painted for most of her life and began a writing career only a few years before her death. Her interest in the lives and rituals of indigenous Canadians is reflected in the totemic animals and mythic females of her paintings. Carr also depicted the vast natural beauty of the Pacific northwest, going beyond the presiding misty landscapes of the day by creating a unique visual idiom. Few Canadians have achieved the legendary stature of Emily Carr.
Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986) was an American painter who found most of her inspiration in nature. O'Keeffe's animal skulls and desert landscapes are famous icons of modernism and her anthropomorphic plant forms distinguish her highly personalized style. Her work is characterized by sensually smooth forms and stunning use of colour. O'Keeffe, married to photographer Alfred Stieglitz, lived between New York and New Mexico, eventually moving permanently to New Mexico after her husband's death where she painted some of her best work.
Frida Kahlo (1907-1954) was an influential Mexican painter known for her harsh, revealing self-portraits. Kahlo was born in Coyoacan, southwest Mexico City. She lived in constant pain after being seriously injured in a bus accident when a metal rod pierced her body. Through the use of jarring colour and odd spatial relationships her self-portraits reflect her long-term physical and emotional suffering. Kahlo's stormy marriage to famous Mexican artist Diego Rivera is well documented. The intensity of Kahlo's work and her strong creative legacy resonate beyond her brief, turbulent life.
Audiences have an opportunity to deepen their understanding of these significant works and gain rare insight into the artist remarkable lives through an exciting lecture series. As guest curator, Dr. Sharyn Udall will speak about the exhibition as part of the Vancouver Art Gallery's special lecture series designed to accompany Places of Their Own. Also delivering lectures are Margaret Lindauer, author of Devouring Frida: The Art History and Popular Celebrity of Frida Kahlo and John O'Brian, Professor of Art History at the University of British Columbia.
As part of this exhibition, a new partnership between the Vancouver Art Gallery and the University of British Columbia - the Teacher Institute - has been established. The Teacher Institute enables participants to gain degree credits and aims to provide a rich, in-depth understanding of the work of Carr, O'Keeffe and Kahlo. Distinguished guest speakers, including Martha Piper, President of the University of British Columbia, will participate in the Institute. As an innovative model of arts education it is the first of its kind in Canada.
Carr, O'Keeffe and Kahlo: Places of Their Own opened in Canada at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in June 2001 prior to touring to the Santa Fe Museum of Fine Arts and the National Museum of Women in Art, Washington. Places of Their Own will run seven days a week at the Vancouver Art Gallery until September 15. Co-ordinated by Ian Thom, Senior Curator, Historical, Vancouver Art Gallery. Organized and circulated by the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. This exhibition is kindly supported by The Audain Foundation. Official media sponsors: CBC Radio One and Radio Two, CBC Television, The Vancouver Sun.
Frida Kahlo 1907-1954
Self-Portrait with Monkey, 1938
oil on masonite
Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY
Bequest of A. Conger Goodyear, 1966