Geoffrey Farmer’s Tour de Force at the Venice Biennale

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, May 10, 2017
In 16th- and 17th-century Europe, amusing water features known as jeux d’eau became features of European Mannerist and Baroque gardens. For the sprawling grounds of his Hellbrunn Palace in Austria, Markus Sittich von Hohenems, the Prince-Archbishop of Salzburg, commissioned a series of pranks including a stone dining table through which conduits artfully shot surprise sprays on unsuspecting guests, startling their senses and transforming their environment. Continue reading

A Landmark Exhibition for Artist Elisabeth Vigée Le Brun

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s June 4, 2016
In late-eighteenth-century France, when only men could train at the prestigious École des Beaux Arts, Elisabeth Louise Vigée Le Brun defied the odds. Continue reading

Lives Lived, Unseen: Jewish Ghetto Life in Nazi-occupied Poland

by Sara Angel, Maclean's, January 28, 2015
IN THE SUMMER of 1944, following Nazi orders to "liquidate" the Jewish ghetto in the Polish city of Lodz, Henryk Ross, a photographer and one of the enclosure’s inhabitants, quietly buried thousands of negatives he had made over the previous five years. Continue reading

Emily Carr goes to London

by Sara Angel, Maclean's, October 26, 2014
LONDON'S DULWICH PICTURE GALLERY is renowned for shining the spotlight on artists who are unknown in England but famous in their native country. This was the motivation, in 2011, behind the museum’s blockbuster exhibition <i>Painting Canada: Tom Thomson and the Group of Seven</i>, which saw Brits lining up to take in North American wilderness scenes. Continue reading

The vindication of CanStage’s Matthew Jocelyn

by Sara Angel, Maclean's, October 5, 2014
WHEN HELEN LAWRENCE OPENS next week in Toronto as the showcase production of Canadian Stage’s 2014-15 season, it will be unveiled having already won plaudits from some of the most discerning theatre audiences in the world. Following its Vancouver debut earlier this year, a critic wrote of the groundbreaking piece of theatre, “You’ve never seen anything that looks like this before on a stage.” Continue reading

A Picture Paints a Thousand Lies: On Truth and War Photography

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, September 15, 2014
IN A YEAR PACKED with exhibitions and ceremonies marking the Great War’s anniversary, creating something original and unforgettable is a challenge. But <i>Dispatch: War Photographs in Print, 1854-2008</i>, opening Sept. 17 at Toronto's Ryerson Image Centre, manages to do it. Continue reading

Their Life in Pictures

by Sara Angel, Maclean's, May 20, 2014
DESPITE BEING MARRIED for more than 50 years, and being known as one of the country’s foremost collecting duos, Harry and Ann Malcolmson rarely have the same viewpoint when it comes to their shared passion: photography. This could be their secret to building one of the most important groupings of photographs ever put together in Canada, a priceless assemblage of 268 works they donated to the Art Gallery of Ontario earlier this year, many of which went on display last week. Continue reading

How Comedian Steve Martin became a Champion for Lawren Harris

by Sara Angel, Maclean's, February 26, 2014
WITH HIS AUSTERE, arresting and spiritually charged paintings of icebergs, lakes and mountains, Lawren Harris became famous for his iconic images of Canada and the leader of our most influential art movement, the Group of Seven. But this wasn’t the legacy he dreamed of. For the better part of his career, Harris wanted to move beyond landscapes to make his name with work that contributed to modern art movements beyond the nation’s border. Continue reading

The Man Who Paints Canada from Trinidad

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, January 19, 2014
IN 2007, PETER DOIG went from being a painter quietly admired by collectors and curators to an art-world colossus when his work White Canoe—created 16 years earlier—was auctioned for a record-breaking $11.3 million. Continue reading

Kim Dorland: ‘Tom Thomson on acid’

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, October 17, 2013
FOR ALMOST A DECADE, art writers have documented how the Group of Seven has inspired Kim Dorland, one of Canada’s most acclaimed mid-career painters. You Are Here: Kim Dorland and the Return to Painting, an impressive exhibition opening at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection on Oct. 26, takes things one step further as it vaults the 39-year-old artist into the pantheon of the nation’s most revered painters. Continue reading

The Group of Seven Are Coming Home

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, November 1, 2012
TWENTY-TWO years ago when Katerina Atanassova left Bulgaria to study medieval art at the University of Toronto, she had never heard of the Group of Seven. The last thing she imagined is that she would rise to the top rank of this country’s art professionals as chief curator at the McMichael, a gallery in Kleinburg, Ont. that houses a one-of-a-kind Canadian art collection, and play a key role in an elaborate three-year-long operation to galvanize support for historical Canadian art. Continue reading

Ryerson University Wishes Upon a Shooting Black Star

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, September 27, 2012
HOW DID THE MOST important international collection of documentary photography end up at a new museum in Toronto? In 2003, the Toronto-based photography dealer Stephen Bulger was hired for a dream assignment. An anonymous client (who requested Bulger sign a confidentiality agreement) asked him to appraise the Black Star archive. Possessing one of the world’s most important and comprehensive accumulations of 20th-century documentary photography, the Black Star photo agency was founded in New York City by three German Jewish intellectuals who fled Nazi Germany. Continue reading

New Exhibit at the AGO Gets Inside Picasso’s Head

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, April 20, 2012
PABLO PICASSO IS sketching in the park when a bold woman approaches. “It’s you,” she says, “The world’s most famous artist. You must draw my portrait! I insist.” Picasso studies the woman’s face and renders her image with an extended line. “It’s perfect!” she gushes. “What do I owe you?”
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Drawn and Quartered

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, January 11, 2011
FEW CANADIANS can afford an oil painting by Gary Taxali, whose whimsical, vintage-inspired art sells for as much as $10,000 and is part of collections in New York’s Whitney and London’s Victoria and Albert museums. Now everyone will have a chance to own an original when his images appear on the smallest surface he has ever worked on: a 25-cent piece.
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Imagine Rembrandt with an iPad

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, October 5, 2011
ACCORDING TO DAVID HOCKNEY, if the 17th-century Dutch master Rembrandt were living today, he’d be using an iPad. Hockney should know.
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How General Idea Predicted the Future

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, July 28, 2011
AMONG THE MANY reasons to celebrate this week’s centenary of media guru Marshall McLuhan’s birth is that he gave life to General Idea (GI), one of the world’s most subversive art practices.
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Caravaggio does Ottawa

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, June 17, 2011
HE WAS A fighter, rebel and murderer. He wore his clothes until they were rags, ate off his paintings, chased women and men with equal vigour, escaped from prison, and died at age 39 in a fit of fever.
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Canada is about to Rock Venice

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, June 9, 2011
CANADIAN ARTISTS have suffered from a sense of inferiority since 1958 when they began exhibiting works in our own underwhelming space at the Venice Biennale, the world’s most prestigious art fair, which opens this week. But thanks to Steven Shearer, 43, the British Columbia-born painter, sculptor and draftsman, this is all about to change.
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David Blackwood Finally Gets His Moment in the Sun

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, February 9, 2011
IN 1964, MONTHS AFTER David Blackwood graduated from Toronto’s Ontario College of Art, he had a moment every artist dreams of.
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Not your grandmother’s porcelain

by Sara Angel, Maclean’s, January 20, 2011
IN 1912 THE SURREALIST ARTIST Marcel Duchamp famously declared that painting was dead, in response to the ease with which images could be made using photography and other new technologies. His words marked the start of a 20th-century trend in which art became increasingly incomprehensible, as the brainy ideas behind a creative work trumped beauty or its maker’s skill. Continue reading