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Women and design dominate 2023 museum calendar

The year ahead marks the centenary of the birth of Quebec abstractionist Jean-Paul Riopelle but aside from the celebrations of that mighty painter’s life and work, it is design rather than fine art, and women rather than men, that figure most prominently on the 2023 museum calendar.

Fashion Fictions is an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery that will investigate experimental fashion design. A collaboration with the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, which will be running a research lab in the midst of the gallery, the exhibition looks at the way designers use everything from science fiction to new technology to inspire their creations. One section will cover innovations in materials; another will look at how designers create speculative and cross-cultural designs, and a third will cover upcycling and reuse. (May 27 to Oct. 9)

Jun Takahashi for Undercover, Ensemble, Fall/Winter 2017-18. Fashion Fictions at the Vancouver Art Gallery will investigate experimental fashion design.Courtesy of Undercover

With the possible exception of ceramics and textiles, design – especially industrial design – has been a field dominated by men. The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts aims to correct that impression with Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design, a show of objects created by women designers in Canada and the U.S. over the past 150 years. (Feb. 18 to May 28)

Fancy Free Corvette, designed by Ruth Glennie for General Motors in 1958, will be on display at Parall(elles): A History of Women in Design at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.Handout

The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria takes a closer look at modernism in British Columbia with a show entitled Heart of the House: Art & the West Coast Modern Home. Using examples of both fine art and interior design from its own and private collections, the gallery will peak inside B.C.’s architectural gems, those idealized mid-century houses. (Jan. 28 to May 14)

This piece by Molly Lamb Bobak is one of the works on display at Heart of the House: Art & the West Coast Modern Home, a show at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.Handout

The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto is offering new routes into Impressionism with a show that juxtaposes the work of the American Mary Cassatt and the Canadian Helen McNicoll. Although a generation apart, both 19th-century artists were known for their depictions of modern women and both worked in France in their youth before bringing the new artistic styles home to North America. (June 3 to Sept. 4)

Left: Mary Cassatt, Summertime, 1894. Oil on canvas, 100.6 x 81.3 cm. Terra Foundation of American Art, Daniel J. Terra Collection. 1988.25. Photo Terra Foundation of American Art, Chicago.
Right: Helen Galloway McNicoll, Picking Flowers, c. 1912. Oil on canvas, Unframed: 94 x 78.8 cm. Gift of R. Fraser Elliott, Toronto, in memory of Betty Ann Elliott, 1992. Art Gallery of Ontario. 92/102.
Handout

Born in Montreal on Oct. 7, 1923, Jean-Paul Riopelle would become one of Canada’s most globally celebrated artists, thanks in part to his long career in France. After his move to Paris in 1947, his powerful paintings created with thick impasto and sharply contrasting colour palettes built his international reputation in the 1950s and 1960s, but he returned to Quebec and the Canadian landscape in the 1970s. The Riopelle Foundation is collaborating on a large program of talks and shows, many in Quebec, which will culminate in a major retrospective at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The exhibition promises new approaches to the revered artist’s life and work and will feature photos, video, audio and music as well as his paintings. (Oct. 27 to April 7, 2024)

An exhibition on Jean-Paul Riopelle promises new approaches to the revered artist’s life and work and will feature photos, video, audio and music as well as his paintings such as Point de rencontre, pictured above.Estate of Jean Paul Riopelle

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