The Firestone Collection of Canadian Art was built to reflect the Firestone family’s belief in the value of educating the public about the merit of Canadian art. The title Perspectives relates to the variety of viewpoints embedded within this important collection; including the relationships between artists and collectors, the conversations between artworks hung side by side, and the shifts in interpretation that occur when reflecting on a historical collection. Presented along three thematic lines, Landscapes, People and Places, and Abstraction, this exhibition explores the Firestones’ drive to amass a collection representing a diverse range of Canadian subjects, art styles, and geographic regions.
The first section presents landscapes in the Collection, with an emphasis on early Euro-Canadian artworks, works by members of the Group of Seven, and those with whom they were associated. Captivated by the Group’s nationalist vision of the Canadian landscape, their paintings and drawings represent nearly half of the 1,600 works in the Collection. The second section illustrates that the Firestones also collected works depicting people and places by Canadian artists influenced by a variety of modernist techniques, from Surrealism to Expressionism. Finally, the third section displays some essential pieces from the Collection’s significant holding of work by Canadian artists created after 1945, representing the move towards abstraction occurring in every major city in the country at the time.
The Ottawa Art Gallery gratefully acknowledges the ongoing support of our members, donors and sponsors, as well as the City of Ottawa, the Canada Council for the Arts, and the Ontario Arts Council.
Perspectives: Selections from the Firestone Collection of Canadian Art, installation view, Ottawa Art Gallery, 2018. Photo: Amity Bradbury