Canadian Art is the preeminent platform for journalism and criticism about art and culture in Canada. Our award-winning print, digital, educational and programming initiatives deliver smart, accessible ideas, stories and opinions. A national non-profit foundation, Canadian Art develops and supports art writers, and engages with the work of artists, established and new. Most important, we develop inclusive platforms to understand, debate and be inspired by art.
In addition to publishing in print and online, the Canadian Art Foundation also presents innovative events and educational programs including School Hop and the Canadian Art Encounters speaker series. These programs support our mandate to engage audiences nationwide and address urgent and evolving issues through the lens of contemporary art and culture.
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Where We Work
Canadian Art covers and hosts events across Turtle Island, home to Indigenous peoples for more than 15,000 years. Our offices are on the traditional territory of the Mississaugas of the New Credit, Haudenosaunee and the Huron Wendat. This is “Dish with One Spoon Territory”: the place of a treaty between the Anishinaabe, Mississaugas and Haudenosaunee that bound them to share the territory and protect the land. We all eat out of the Dish—all of us who share this territory—with only one spoon, and this means we have to share the responsibility of ensuring the dish is never empty; this includes taking care of the land and the creatures we share it with. We are grateful to have the opportunity to live and work in this territory and across Turtle Island. This land acknowledgement is a process of deliberately naming that we work on—and cover culture produced on—Indigenous land, and that Indigenous peoples maintain their rights to this land. It provides us with an opportunity to reflect on all our relationships, and the continuous process of colonization that has a deep impact on what we do.
Our Editorial Vision
- (Inter)national—considering those who function as ambassadors for Canadian culture, whether or not they live within Canada; considering non-Canadians who practice in Canada; looking at under-discussed and critical ways of being Canadian, emphasizing perspectives from Indigenous and diasporic communities; recognizing that culture happens both within and across borders
- Interdisciplinary—synthesizing dynamic points of view and media into topical publishing that reflects and engages with the multidisciplinary nature of contemporary visual culture; showing and celebrating the laboratory-like function of contemporary art
- Inclusive—creating spaces for voices and perspectives that have been and continue to be marginalized in contemporary art and culture—and doing so in a way that changes the ways in which we work, and how art criticism is produced, received and shared
- Historical—upholding histories, plural, and the historical imagination; emphasizing unconventional narratives and suppressed or hidden histories; demonstrating how history lives in the present moment
In 1983, Canada lost its two national visual-arts magazines. Artmagazine (edited by the late Pat Fleisher) folded. And Daniel Cooper, a lawyer on the board of artscanada (edited by Anne Brodzky), called Michael de Pencier of Key Publishers to let him know that the magazine, which had been around for about 40 years (as artscanada since 1967), had just been denied a grant by the Canada Council and had such a big deficit that it could no longer function.
Cooper offered him artscanada’s subscription list, gratis, if de Pencier wanted to take up the challenge of starting a new visual-arts magazine. De Pencier did. He felt strongly that Canada would be culturally poorer without such a publication. Though the board of Key Publishers turned his proposal down, concerned the publication wouldn’t survive, de Pencier approached Lloyd Hodgkinson at Maclean Hunter, which printed several of Key’s publications, and asked for its support. Maclean Hunter agreed to share its substantial subscription lists and help promote the magazine.
De Pencier went back to Key’s board. In September 1984, the first issue of Canadian Art was released, with artist Wanda Koop on the cover. Though many were committed to the project, from the outset it proved difficult to sustain purely based on advertising and newsstand sales alone. In 1991, then-editor Sarah Milroy flew to Ottawa to pitch Revenue Canada on granting Canadian Art non-profit status.
“There were about four of them in the presentation, men and women,” Milroy recalls. “We all got sort of overwhelmed. When you’re sincere about caring about something, it’s unmistakable. I thought it would be the most horrifying waste if this opportunity that Key and Maclean Hunter had managed to sustain was going to be wasted, because you knew it would be another 20 years before someone had the balls to try again. So we fought hard.”
Canadian Art was granted non-profit status soon after, and the Canadian Art Foundation was born. Ownership of Canadian Art was transferred to the Canadian Art Foundation, which, a year later, received charitable status.
As an educational, non-profit entity, the foundation was empowered to raise funds. Milroy, then-publisher Debbie Gibson and the new director of development, Ann Webb, began by dreaming up the Gallery Hop fundraiser, which took place for the first time in the fall of 1996. The fundraiser, rebranded as the Canadian Art Social in 2017, is now one of the most anticipated events in the Toronto fall art season and a key source of funding for Canadian Art.
Today, the Canadian Art Foundation organizes an array of programs aimed at creating a diverse and engaging platform for people to connect with the arts and artists in Canada.
Canadian Art has continued to grow, providing a destination for artists and art enthusiasts to connect and be inspired by art, in turn creating greater local, national and global visibility for the extraordinary artistic talent in Canada.
In addition to publishing Canadian Art and canadianart.ca, the Canadian Art presents innovative events and educational programs including School Hop, Canada-wide issue launches, our quarterly Editorial Mentorship program and the Canadian Art Encounters speaker series. This range of programs supports Canadian Art’s mandate to engage audiences nationwide and address urgent and evolving issues through the lens of contemporary art and culture.