- Introduction: Taking a Time Travel
- The Curators’ Objectives: Thirty Years After the WWI
- Organization: From Less Abstract to More Abstract
- Design: Shifting the Emphasis to the Pictures
- Themes: A Room with a View
- Selection of Artworks: Well Known in In-groups
- The Issues Raised: Time to Reconcile with Nature
- Conclusion: Dissolving in the Imaginary World
Introduction: Taking a Time Travel
A true appreciation of art comes only when one is left eye-to-eye with the author’s work.
Offering the Canadian audience a chance to have a “personal conversation” with some of the renowned artists of the Modernist era, the organizers of “A Story of Canadian Art as Told by the Hart House Art Collection” have provided the citizens of Toronto with a real treat.
The Curators’ Objectives: Thirty Years After the WWI
The key objectives of the curators seemed to involve helping people learn more about the post-WWI epoch and, therefore, teach the audience a specific way in which abstract art should be viewed.
By showing the viewers the premises for the abstract art development, the organizers managed to help the audience see abstract paintings filled with hidden meaning, which the audience was to guess.
Organization: From Less Abstract to More Abstract
When discussing the organization of the exhibition, one must mention that one of the demands towards the people at the helm of it was that the number of works classified as “abstract art” should be shrunken, since very few visitors of the gallery are actually capable of understanding it and perceiving the initial message that the author was trying to get across.
However, the organizers decided to make a bold move and represent abstract art forms anyway. The evidence of the achieved compromise can be traced in the organization of the exhibition.
When watching the paintings, one can see clearly that they have been organized in ascending from unique experiments with the traditional style to the paintings in which the elements of Modernism and Abstractionism can be tracked rather easily.
Design: Shifting the Emphasis to the Pictures
A quick glance at the interior of the exhibition in Art Gallery at Alberta is enough to realize that the organizers wanted the audience to focus solely on the pictures. The entire place reminded of a huge stage, where the spotlights were on the paintings.
While such a decision might be considered minimalistic, the given choice did help the audience plunge into the mini-universe in every single picture, which I found very enticing.
Themes: A Room with a View
Although the artworks represented in the exhibition were rather diverse, they all seemed to revolve around several similar issues. To start with, the post-war vision of the world should be mentioned as the key theme.
It is worth keeping in mind that most of the given paintings were drawn 2-3 decades after the WWI.
Therefore, these paintings render the themes of hope for peaceful life (there are a number of pastorals, e.g., Housser, McDonald, etc.) and at the same time convey the feeling of something even more dreadful hovering in the air, i.e., practically, predict the WWII (e.g., the glance full of anguish in Heward’s painting).
Selection of Artworks: Well Known in In-groups
As it has been mentioned, the selected artworks seem to convey similar issues. Selected so that these issues did not match completely, but flow into each other, like a reasonable argument, these paintings pose a range of moral and philosophical dilemmas before the viewers.
The Issues Raised: Time to Reconcile with Nature
To understand what issues the given exhibition raised, it is necessary to address the time when these artworks were created.
After the entire world had almost recovered from the WWI, and the technological progress was starting to come into full swing, it seemed that the world had lost the touch with nature.
As a result, the dilemma concerning nature vs. nurture appeared once again, only this time it was reinforced by the fact that the post-war generation knew what it was like to lose. As a result, almost every picture offers a variation of the idea to reconcile with nature.
Conclusion: Dissolving in the Imaginary World
Although abstract art is quite difficult for the comprehension of an average visitor of the exhibition, it still is an important part of the art world and a very powerful means of expression.
It seems rather wise that the organizers of the exhibition did not follow the requirement to withdraw abstractionist works despite the audience’s unwillingness to dive deeper into the artists’ psychic.
Offering a lot of food for imagination, these works help stretch the viewers’ imagination, showing them how much of real life and its issues can lurk in the most bizarre artworks.