Diana Nemiroff leaves behind An Embarrassment of Riches

Diana Nemiroff opened her last exhibition as director of the Carleton University Art Gallery (CUAG) on May 7.

An Embarrassment of Riches: The Collection in Focus, was co-curated with Sandra Dyck, and showcased pieces from the collection CUAG has acquired over the past six years during Nemiroff’s mandate as director. It displayed pieces that the public would not otherwise have an opportunity to view.

The opening featured works from Jocelyne Alloucherie’s ambiguous streetscapes to works like Kent Monkman’s obscenely outlandish video, “Dance to Miss Chief.”

Dyck introduced Nemiroff as guest speaker at the event.

“Your passion for and knowledge of art and your leadership and vision for the gallery and its collection are everywhere present in this exhibition,” Dyck said.

Nemiroff said the exhibition showed how the gallery’s collection grew and changed during her mandate, while offering “some indication of its future direction.”

“Our original idea reflected in the title of An Embarassment of Riches was to hang works salon style, floor to ceiling, in order to make a visual argument for a new gallery that would give CUAG the space and visibility that it needs,” Nemiroff said in her address.

Nemiroff has yet to lose her charm as she compared the choices made for the exhibition to getting dressed up for a party. She was the same witty curator who once appeared on CBC Newsworld, dressed as Newman’s Voice of Fire during a time of hot debate over the purchase.

“That’s where the word ‘riches’ comes into our title. We’re not apologizing. It’s not that kind of embarrassment. It’s having a lot, almost too much of a good thing, and that’s our situation” Nemiroff explained.

As part of the new direction envisioned by Nemiroff, the gallery will begin to put a stronger emphasis on purchases. In the past, CUAG has relied on donations such as those from Lorraine Gilbert, artist of Le Patrimoine. Gilbert said she donated because “Carleton is very important in supporting the arts in Ottawa – the visual arts.”

Several pieces were bought with the aid of endowment funds and a grant that allowed the CUAG staff to select works that strengthened the already existing collection. Nemiroff said she appreciates donations, however purchases will give the freedom needed to focus the collection.

With many lasting contributions to the gallery Nemiroff said she looks forward to the three R’s in retirement: rest, relaxation and research. She plans to write a book about the three female directors of the past forty years at the National Gallery.

She said she hopes Carleton’s gallery will receive a new building in the future and looks forward to seeing the new director “hit her stride.”

“I will miss the gallery in many ways but I feel that I will come back as a visitor so I won’t leave it behind entirely,” Nemiroff said.

“But I won’t be sad to give up my very heavy work.”


Diana Nemiroff at a previous CUAG exhibit (photo courtesy of Justin WonaCott)

– See more at: http://www.charlatan.ca/2012/05/diana-nemiroff-leaves-behind-an-embarrassment-of-riches/#sthash.AREoqte5.dpuf


Getting on our hands and knees with Van Gogh

van gogh

In collaboration with the Philadelphia Museum, the National Gallery of Canada opened its exhibition Van Gogh: Up Close on May 25, which along with 100 works from other artists, features 47 works from Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh.

techniques, from the dramatic cropping seen in the Tree Trunks in the Grass (1890) to the intricately rendered details of the Sunflowers (1887).

Cornelia Homburg, renown Van Gogh scholar, and Anabelle Kienle Poňka, associate curator of European and American art at the National Gallery, co-curated the exhibition from a new perspective of Van Gogh’s close-up view.

“We have looked at his decision to paint nature almost lying in it with his knees in the grass,” Homburg said.

Van Gogh has not been represented in Canada on this large of a scale in over 25 years, according to the gallery’s website.

This innovative thesis on the artist’s relationship to nature that allowed Homburg and Poňka to borrow works from lenders around the world.

National Gallery director Marc Mayer said that most of the paintings in the exhibition had never been to Canada before.

“It’s a fresh academic perspective. This is van Gogh’s relationship with nature. It s never really been studied before, certainly not with the depth that our curators have given it,” Mayer said.

Iris (1890), and Bowl with Zinnias and Other Flowers (1886), are Van Gogh works that can be found in the Gallery’s permanent collection. Poňka expressed a desire that viewers may see the pieces from the permanent collection in conjunction with other works in the exhibition painted from the same garden, offering different viewpoints.

“Therefore we can appreciate it even more so as a magnificent work that is part of our national collections and something we should be incredibly proud of.” Poňka said, referencing the Iris.

The acquisition of Van Gogh works was “no easy feat,” but Homburg and Poňka rose to the challenge. Almond Blossom (1890) was one of the more renown pieces from the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam featured in the exhibit.

“I remember my first discussion with them about this loan which is sort of like a no-no, you do not ask for this picture. When I explained what we were doing they said, ‘

Well if there was one exhibition where it actually made sense, this would be one of them,’ ” Homburg said.

– See more at: http://www.charlatan.ca/2012/05/getting-on-our-hands-and-knees-with-van-gogh/#sthash.va1IxWaB.dpuf