Spotlight: Canadian Art

Emily Carr, Tom Thomson, A.J. Casson, Paul Peel, Marcel Dzama. These Canadian artists weren’t born that way. They were created with the help of an art-loving public and critical raves. The next wave of superstars is already on the scene. Here’s where to spot and to buy Canadian art for would-be collectors:

Museum of Inuit Art, Toronto

This is the only public museum showcasing Inuit art in southern Canada. It’s also a terrific spot to learn more about it and to start collecting pieces. The adjoining art gallery features artwork that funnels all profits back to the museum to support education and acquisition programs. You’ll find hand-woven baskets, soapstone carvings, wall hangings, ceramics and signed prints from names like Pudlo Pudlat and Janet Kigusiuq, purchased from Inuit artists across Canada. Start small a limited edition print or small soapstone figure.

Claire and Marc Bourgie Pavilion of Quebec and Canadian Art, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal

This ever-expanding museum has done it again. The new exhibition space puts the spotlight squarely on Canadian art. More than 600 pieces are spread over 2,000 square metres of new gallery space, housed in a stunningly restored church circa 1894. All the big names are here: Michael Snow, Jean-Paul Riopelle, Marc-Aurèle Fortin and Claude Tousignant. The online boutique offers some great books – handy primers to learn more about Canadian art.

Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg

WAG, as it’s called locally, is home to a stellar collection of Canadian art from 1800 to modern day from well-known talents like Paul Kane and Frederick Verner. Its star exhibit New Art from Cape Dorset (closes April 8, 2012) shows off the outstanding calibre of Inuit art produced by second and third generation artists living in the far north. The Gallery Shop highlights work by Manitoba and Canadian artists. Art is loaned out for as little as $10 a month. Or pick up a set of melting snowmen canisters designed by the renowned Marcel Dzama.

LE Gallery, Toronto

If an artist is on the brink of becoming a big name, he or she will find their work exhibited at this small commercial space first. Owner Wil Kucey has a keen eye for emerging talent. Before The Whitney Museum of American Art bought a piece by Nicholas Di Genova, this recent addition to the Queen Street West gallery scene showed his work first. Catch a rising star in sculpture, painting and drawing here before the international acclaim hits.

Art Works Gallery, Vancouver

Located in a chic renovated warehouse in Yaletown, this roomy gallery has presented the best of Canadian contemporary art. Though some of the large-scale paintings might give a novice collector a case of sticker shock, newbies can pick up less expensive signed and framed photography.

Newzones, Calgary

There’s more contemporary Canadian art on display at this sleek space. It’s not uncommon for some of the fresh talent shown here to go on and have solo exhibits at major museums. For savvy types who like to get in on the ground floor of an investment opportunity, you’ll find plenty here from celebrated artists from the West like William Perehudoff and east (such as Sophie Jodoin).

Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.

Tim Pitsiulak, Timoon Drawing, 2010. Coloured pencil on black paper. Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery.