In the 1980s the Winnipeg Art Gallery identified photography as a specialized area of the collection. Over the last three decades, the collection has grown to approximately 1,340 works, mainly by contemporary Canadian photographers. The images range in subject matter and context, from landscapes to portraiture to social documentary critiques. To strengthen the breadth and significance of the collection, works which are international and historical in scope have been acquired; in particular 180 photographs dating from 1914-1981 by American-Hungarian André Kertész (considered to be the father of modern photography) that were donated in 1985 and the subject of a recent exhibition at the WAG.
This summer, the WAG’s Works on Paper gallery (gallery 3) will concentrate on the strength of the collection—work by Canadian artists—focusing on those created over the past 40 years. Winnipeg artists such as David McMillan, John Paskievich, and William Eakin are featured, along with former Winnipegger Laura Letinsky. Photographs by noted First Nations artists Jeffrey M. Thomas, Shelley Niro, and Arthur Renwick are also highlighted.
Beyond their obvious aesthetic qualities, the works confront viewers with cultural commentary, social critique, popular culture, and historical references. From the studied still lives of found objects by Lucie Lefebvre, to the documentary nature of the contact print sheet of Arnaud Maggs, to the enigmatic landscape of Lisa Klapstock and the unexpected juxtaposition of urban grafitti-covered walls with early Christian art and iconography in Nomi Kaplan’s photomontages, this exhibition offers a tantalizing taste of the photography collection at the WAG.