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David Balzer

David Balzer is the author of two books, Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else, winner of ICA London's 2015 Book of the Year, and the short-fiction collection Contrivances. He has written about art and culture for the Globe and Mail, the GuardianFrieze, Artforum, The Believer and others, and is currently editor-in-chief and co-publisher of Canadian Art.
Haunted Houses

Haunted Houses

This year, the SITElines biennial in Santa Fe, New Mexico, explores home and belonging—in a place where distinctions between inside and outside often feel blurred

Jack Goldstein and Ron Terada
Body Movies

Body Movies

The National Ballet of Canada's Frame by Frame is spectacular, sensitive, and very queer

Dirty Words: An Introduction

Dirty Words: An Introduction

Artist Divya Mehra's cover for our Spring 2018 issue uses a vintage kids’ show to poke fun at art-world taboos.

Against the Souvenir: Thinking Through Canada 150

Against the Souvenir: Thinking Through Canada 150

In this modified transcript of a talk given earlier this year, David Balzer considers settler-colonial kitsch and celebration, and how they can be undone.

Howie Tsui’s Subversive, Epic New Work

Howie Tsui’s Subversive, Epic New Work

In a sprawling video projection at the Vancouver Art Gallery, Howie Tsui explores the martial-arts genre that shaped him—and the city in which he was born.

The Carbon Footprint of Art

The Carbon Footprint of Art

Are the creative industries the world’s most hypocritical polluters?

Art in 2016: Insides and Outs

Art in 2016: Insides and Outs

In a year characterized by division and discord, culture had a choice—to retreat, or to explore startling forms of subjectivity and intimacy.

What Now: A Reconsideration of Futures

What Now: A Reconsideration of Futures

Our Winter 2017 issue is themed on “Futures.” How is our relationship with futurity changing? The short answer: we are living what's next, now.

Brent Wadden: A Painter Who Weaves

Brent Wadden: A Painter Who Weaves

This Glace Bay–born artist made an international breakthrough while living in Berlin. Now, his weavings-cum-paintings show at Frieze London and Art Basel.

On the Politics of Staying in Canada

On the Politics of Staying in Canada

Many artists leave Canada to develop their practices. Our new Fall issue, out today, is all about them. But what are the politics of leaving—and staying?

David Balzer’s Top Pick at Canadian Art’s Gala Auction

David Balzer’s Top Pick at Canadian Art’s Gala Auction

Shannon Bool’s multiple, fraught ideas of beauty make her artwork Iman’s a top pick for editor-in-chief David Balzer at Canadian Art's upcoming auction.

Theaster Gates Builds a House Museum

Theaster Gates Builds a House Museum

Chicago artist and urban planner Theaster Gates reflects on his remarkable new exhibition about the politics of remembering at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Resist Pinkwashing: A Pride Guide

Resist Pinkwashing: A Pride Guide

Pride hits Canada's biggest city this weekend. Here, a survey of art projects that are keeping Pride political, in Toronto and elsewhere.

Julian Barnes: There’s No Right Response to a Painting

Julian Barnes: There’s No Right Response to a Painting

An interview with acclaimed Man Booker Prize–winning novelist and art critic Julian Barnes about the blockbuster show, Internet outrage and more.

MashUp: A Bright Show with a Dark Heart

MashUp: A Bright Show with a Dark Heart

David Balzer reviews the Vancouver Art Gallery’s “MashUp," making a case for the value of slow criticism in a culture that's often all too quick to pick sides.

David Balzer’s Best of 2015: Full Nelson

David Balzer’s Best of 2015: Full Nelson

Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is the book of the year—a touchstone for 2015's cultural shifts, and an unconventional celebration of art criticism.

Geoffrey Farmer Will Represent Canada at Venice Biennale in 2017

Geoffrey Farmer Will Represent Canada at Venice Biennale in 2017

Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer will represent Canada at the 2017 Venice Biennale. Here, speaks about the upcoming excitement and challenges.

A First Look at 2015 Miami Art Week

A First Look at 2015 Miami Art Week

Deputy editor David Balzer's first report from Miami Art Week is in. Take a look at this slideshow of his highlights from Art Basel's booths and curated sections.

TL;DR: No One Reads Art Reviews Anymore

TL;DR: No One Reads Art Reviews Anymore

The traditional exhibition review is not popular online—Google Analytics tell us so. What does this mean for the future of art criticism?

How Joshua Schwebel Paid Interns with His Berlin Residency

How Joshua Schwebel Paid Interns with His Berlin Residency

Artist Joshua Schwebel explains how he used his residency at the prestigious Quebec Studio in Berlin to pay the interns at Künstlerhaus Bethanien.

How Steve Martin Brought Lawren Harris to LA

How Steve Martin Brought Lawren Harris to LA

Curator Cynthia Burlingham speaks with David Balzer about “The Idea of the North: the Paintings of Lawren Harris,” a show spearheaded by actor Steve Martin.

Eric Fischl Interviewed: Art’s Bad Boy Looks Back

Eric Fischl Interviewed: Art’s Bad Boy Looks Back

Famed American artist Eric Fischl reflects on the legacy of his 9/11 works 14 years after the tragedy and discusses the state of contemporary art-making.

BGL’s Million-Dollar Ferris Wheel

BGL’s Million-Dollar Ferris Wheel

David Balzer speaks with BGL about their latest project: a 53-feet-high, million-dollar work that forges a ferris wheel out of aluminum bus replicas.

Banksy Takes Maskull Lasserre to Dismaland

Banksy Takes Maskull Lasserre to Dismaland

Maskull Lasserre is the only Canada-based artist currently showing at Dismaland, Banksy's dark Disneyland parody at the British resort town of Weston-super-Mare.

Review: Public Studio Turns Images into Witnesses at O’Born Contemporary

Review: Public Studio Turns Images into Witnesses at O’Born Contemporary

In Public Studio's recent exhibition, the collective toyed with history, making idiosyncratic connections between objects. David Balzer reviews.

Jessica Bradley Discusses Closing Her Gallery

Jessica Bradley Discusses Closing Her Gallery

This week, Jessica Bradley Gallery announced it would be closing, to the surprise of many. Jessica Bradley speaks about this decision and her future plans.

Paulette Phillips Interrogates the Art World: Studio Visit

Paulette Phillips Interrogates the Art World: Studio Visit

Artist Paulette Phillips uses a lie-detector machine to study the art world's capacity for truth. David Balzer finds out more in this studio-visit video.

Walter Scott on Life in the Wendy-verse

Walter Scott on Life in the Wendy-verse

Walter Scott talks to David Balzer about Wendy, the boy-crazy, neurotic protagonist of his popular comics, his approach to satire and his sculptural work.

Douglas Coupland Doesn’t Care About You

Douglas Coupland Doesn’t Care About You

The Vancouver artist and novelist's new touring survey promises an interactive experience that is deeply contemporary. But how social is the art, really?

Taras Polataiko on Conflict and Art in Eastern Ukraine

Taras Polataiko on Conflict and Art in Eastern Ukraine

Ukrainian-Canadian artist Taras Polataiko speaks about the current cultural climate in Eastern Ukraine, where conflict largely overshadows art-making.

Simon Starling Delivers “Metamorphology” to Montreal

Simon Starling Delivers “Metamorphology” to Montreal

Ahead of his Montreal survey show, Simon Starling talks to David Balzer about revisiting past projects, and avoiding the spotlight.

Archival Anomaly: An Interview with Gareth Long

Archival Anomaly: An Interview with Gareth Long

Canadian artist Gareth Long talks with David Balzer about his Vienna exhibition "Kidnappers Foil," and the strange case of filmmaker/huckster Melton Barker.

David Balzer’s Top 3 of 2014: Person, Place and Thing

David Balzer’s Top 3 of 2014: Person, Place and Thing

David Balzer takes a broad approach to the year-end list, using Los Angeles, theatre and the filmmaker Godard as his points of departure.

When Private Goes Public: Miami Collections Raise Ethical Questions

When Private Goes Public: Miami Collections Raise Ethical Questions

Art Basel Miami is a showy display of wealth, David Balzer writes. Local private/public museums also prompt questions about privilege, curating and class.

Miami Slideshow: Hot Art from the North & Beyond

Miami Slideshow: Hot Art from the North & Beyond

When Canadian Shaan Syed's art was held at US customs, he held an impromptu performance at a Miami art fair. View more Miami musts in this slideshow.

Riel Confronts John A. Anew in Regina Performance

Riel Confronts John A. Anew in Regina Performance

Metis artist David Garneau becomes Louis Riel, and confronts statues of John A. Macdonald, in a performance debuting this week. More in this interview.

3 Insights on the Curated Market

3 Insights on the Curated Market

In advance of an Art Toronto panel, Thrush Holmes, Stefan Hancherow and Elena Soboleva share their thoughts on the increasing curation of art fairs.

Double Time: A Q&A with Gallerists in both Feature Art Fair and Art Toronto

Double Time: A Q&A with Gallerists in both Feature Art Fair and Art Toronto

Art-fair fever hits Toronto this week with the 15th edition of Art Toronto and debut of the Feature Art Fair. Three dealers reveal how to make the most of both worlds.

Near Future: An Interview with Sylvie Fortin

Near Future: An Interview with Sylvie Fortin

Biennale de Montréal director Sylvie Fortin has spent the past year managing a much-changed event, and with it, new hopes and challenges.

Alex Colville: Love in a Cold Climate

Alex Colville: Love in a Cold Climate

An AGO retrospective of the late painter compares his work to contemporary films, but love and survival endure as Colville's greatest themes.

Book Excerpt: How Curating Took Over the World
Come Out: 11 Art Picks for World Pride 2014
Only Connect: What’s Wrong with “Art as Therapy”
Affordable Art Fair Makes First Foray into Canada with Love Art
Artverb*: The Green Team

Artverb*: The Green Team

Want to know what’s really going on in Canada's art world? Ask artverb*—a team of shippers and installers headed to Frieze New York 2014.

A Primer on AGAC, the Papier14 Powerhouse
Sky Glabush: Faith in Gesture
The Generalist: An Afternoon with Roberta Smith
Jens Hoffmann on Structures, Primary and Otherwise
Slideshow: Allen Ginsberg Photos Find a Home in Canada
Richard Deacon Q&A: On Film, Fabrication and Failure
Chris Curreri: Metamorphoses
Art Fallout: Two Post-Fukushima Triennials
David Balzer’s Top 3 of 2013: Outside Exhibitions
Miami Report: The Good, The Bad & The Artsy
Miami by Air: An Interview with Bill Burns
Project Illuminates Canadian Art History for 21st-Century Audiences
David Balzer’s Four Art Toronto Faves
Shannon Bool Weaves Ancient and Contemporary in Toronto

Shannon Bool Weaves Ancient and Contemporary in Toronto

In her exhibition "Walk Like an Etruscan," Bool melds 1980s dance hits and fashions with centuries-old forms.

Curator Chat: The Carnegie International
David Bowie Curator Chat: Starman Styles
Jörn Weisbrodt: Ringmaster
2013 AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize Shortlist Announced
Pushing Forward: Mark Igloliorte and the Observational Life
Vivian Maier: Where Instagram Meets Winogrand
Museum Hours Imparts Wisdom and Wonder
Q&A: Jillian McDonald on Highland Noir
Marina Abramovic Q&A: Looking to Past, Present & Future
Brain, Body, Hands: Meet Sky Glabush, Canada’s Most Restless Painter
Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller Chat About Their New AGO Survey
Patti Smith and Steven Sebring talk photography, celebrity and graveyards
Daniel Barrow to Head Outdoors for Glenfiddich Residency Prize
Patti Smith Summons Séances & NYC Scenes at AGO
David Balzer’s Top 3 of 2012: Moments of Grace
Louis Vuitton: Art and Leather
Artists Petition Against University of Saskatchewan’s Suspension of Emma Lake Workshops Site
Janet Werner on What Makes a Good Painting, Artist Statements, Professionalization Pressures & More
Camille Paglia Shines Less Brightly in Glittering Images
Luis Jacob Turns Gaucheness into Grace with Show Your Wound

Luis Jacob Turns Gaucheness into Grace with Show Your Wound

Birch Libralato, Toronto September 13 to October 13, 2012

New Lights Fest & Last Mike Kelley Work Lure Art-Lovers Across the Border to Detroit
Ryerson Image Centre Sheds Light on Photo’s Role
Evan Penny Looks Back, And Ahead, in AGO Survey
Wayne Baerwaldt on Calgary’s Nuit Blanche
TIFF 2012: For the Love of Film
Berenice Abbott: What No One Sees
Emily Vey Duke & Cooper Battersby: A Place for Everything
Kitty Scott: A Return to Ontario
Edouard Vuillard: Painting Patronage

Edouard Vuillard: Painting Patronage

A new exhibition of works by turn-of-the-century French painter Edouard Vuillard at New York’s Jewish Museum is at once predictably quiet and unexpectedly thrilling. David Balzer reviews one of Manhattan’s mandatory summer art events.

Judging Books by their Covers: Reading Surfaces

Judging Books by their Covers: Reading Surfaces

Is it possible to track the demise of a medium based on its increasing prevalence in art galleries? If so, the physical book is well on its way, as indicated by several recent exhibitions. In this review, David Balzer studies one such show on now in Montreal.

Will Munro: Ecstatic Legacies

Will Munro: Ecstatic Legacies

In 2010, at the age of 35, Toronto artist/DJ/promoter/activist Will Munro succumbed to brain cancer. Here, David Balzer reviews the first big survey of Munro’s work, which makes apparent how talented, prolific and perceptive this creator was.

Evan Penny: Larger Than Life

Evan Penny: Larger Than Life

Toronto sculptor Evan Penny's Jim Revisited—at three metres tall, his biggest work ever—presides over Penny's touring survey "RE FIGURED," which debuted in Germany in 2011 and will wind up at the Art Gallery of Ontario in the fall of 2012. In this David Balzer–penned feature from our Winter 2012 magazine, Penny shares some perspectives on the evolution of his uncannily hyperreal sculptures.

Lyonel Feininger: Seeing from a Different Angle

Lyonel Feininger: Seeing from a Different Angle

This month, a Lyonel Feininger retrospective organized by New York’s Whitney Museum will open in Montreal. As David Balzer reports, the Canadian spin on this modern master promises to highlight overlooked output in music.

David Balzer’s Top 3: Art for the Ages

David Balzer’s Top 3: Art for the Ages

Mythic creatures, Warholian visions and mid-century dreams—for assistant editor David Balzer, the best shows of 2011 had a tendency to play off elements of the past, or place a renewed focus on them. In capable hands, he notes, the results are daring, not dated.

Francis Picabia: Postmodern Predictor

Francis Picabia: Postmodern Predictor

In his final fall report from New York City, David Balzer reviews a show of Francis Picabia’s late paintings at Michael Werner. As Balzer observes, Picabia’s production in the 1940s seemed to predict the kitsch and remix tendencies of postmodern painting today.

Richard Mosse: Infrared Insights

Richard Mosse: Infrared Insights

The landscape and people of eastern Congo, photographed with infrared film, are the basis for Richard Mosse’s remarkable prints at New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery. In this slideshow, David Balzer mulls the implications, which stretch from Conrad to Hendrix.

Performa 2011: Live Wires

Performa 2011: Live Wires

Canadian filmmaker Guy Maddin and recent Banff Centre resident Ragnar Kjartansson were among the big highlights of this month’s Performa biennial in New York. David Balzer reviews, finding a performance-art festival that’s as vast as the city hosting it.

Lisa Yuskavage, Neo Rauch and Michaël Borremans: Taking Painting’s Temperature

Lisa Yuskavage, Neo Rauch and Michaël Borremans: Taking Painting’s Temperature

Recently, for a few days in New York, exhibitions of Lisa Yuskavage, Neo Rauch and Michaël Borremans coincided. Here, David Balzer discusses their fevered explorations of figure and landscape in contemporary painting.

Willem de Kooning: Embodying the City

Willem de Kooning: Embodying the City

For David Balzer, the Willem de Kooning exhibition now on at New York’s Museum of Modern Art confirms that his art embodies the spirit of the city just as well as it ever did. In it, graffiti’s echoes meet architectural bravado and large-scale views.

La Carte d’Après Nature: A Curator is Born

La Carte d’Après Nature: A Curator is Born

One of the most talked-about shows in New York this season was Thomas Demand’s Magritte-inspired curatorial project at Matthew Marks Gallery. David Balzer reviews, finding Canadian connections and impressive works along the way.

No Comment: Occupying Wall Street with Art

No Comment: Occupying Wall Street with Art

In this slideshow, assistant editor David Balzer reports on “No Comment,” an intriguing group show held near the New York Stock Exchange last week. Though the exhibition grew out of Occupy Wall Street, its visuals verged into Thomas Hirschhorn.

Jeremy Shaw: Restless Spirits

Jeremy Shaw: Restless Spirits

David Balzer reports that a religious mood reigned at MoMA PS1 last week as its 9/11-anniversary show met the closing days of Vancouver artist Jeremy Shaw’s Best Minds. In Minds, Shaw illuminates the unexpected transcendence of a BC punk concert.

40 Years of the CAG: Looking Ahead with Nigel Prince

40 Years of the CAG: Looking Ahead with Nigel Prince

The new director of Vancouver’s Contemporary Art Gallery makes an ambitious debut this week with a trio of exhibitions that challenge the institution’s image as it celebrates its 40th birthday. Now, David Balzer asks Nigel Prince about this unusual move.

Berlinde De Bruyckere: Horse Latitudes

Berlinde De Bruyckere: Horse Latitudes

Old Montreal may be a destination for world-class contemporary art, but it’s also still known for kitschy horse carriages. For David Balzer, that local feature comes to mind when viewing Berlinde De Bruyckere’s DHC/ART show, which includes the equine as medium.

Daniel Cockburn: You Are Here

Daniel Cockburn: You Are Here

There’s no easy way to explain Daniel Cockburn’s charming first feature, which opens Friday in Toronto, next week in Edmonton and at other Canadian venues this fall. Cockburn's work offers plenty to discuss around art and cinema, as evinced in this interview by David Balzer.

Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome: Betting on a Blockbuster

Caravaggio and His Followers in Rome: Betting on a Blockbuster

Among the most perennially fresh of the old masters, Caravaggio is the kind of artist whose most mundane works still possess a charge. But can the same be said for all exhibitions about him? David Balzer assesses the National Gallery’s big summer show.

John Currin: Avant-Garde and Kitsch

John Currin: Avant-Garde and Kitsch

The power of American art star John Currin’s paintings, currently on view in a mid-sized retrospective at Montreal’s DHC/ART, is manifold. Here, David Balzer reviews the exhibition, reflecting on Currin’s relationship to money, muses and married bliss.

Aleksandra Mir: Tower of Power

Aleksandra Mir: Tower of Power

Art star commissions often offer big names, but little payoff. The pattern switches up, though, with UK-based artist Aleksandra Mir, who recently organized a playful tire-tower project north of Toronto. Here, David Balzer reviews the resulting Mercer Union show.

Luis Jacob: Questions of Framing

Luis Jacob: Questions of Framing

In this feature from the Summer 2011 issue of Canadian Art, assistant editor David Balzer thoughtfully analyzes the art of Toronto's Luis Jacob, whose deft work with archives and other themes has gained much national and international attention.

Venice Biennale Preview: Shades of Shearer

Venice Biennale Preview: Shades of Shearer

This week, the Canada Pavilion at the Venice Biennale launched its look at the art of Vancouver’s Steven Shearer, who marries old-master awe with a hard, heavy-metal edge. Here, David Balzer chats with the project’s lead curator and posts preview-peek pics.

German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse

German Expressionism: The Graphic Impulse

The Museum of Modern Art’s major new exhibition on German expressionism holds a treat for those piqued by Montreal’s terrific Otto Dix show of last fall. Assistant editor David Balzer reviews, finding many connections to today’s art along the way.

David Altmejd: Modern Myths

David Altmejd: Modern Myths

Ancient tales of transformation meet contemporary building materials to dazzling effect in David Altmejd’s current New York show. Assistant editor David Balzer reviews, finding millennia-old fables melded with unexpected, uniquely 2011 twists.

Queer Cinema From the Collection: Bronson’s Bests

Queer Cinema From the Collection: Bronson’s Bests

Though AA Bronson was unsuccessful this winter in taking on the Smithsonian, he’s had some high points too. Following a big French honour and General Idea retrospective, this week launches his MoMA film program, which features many younger Canadian artists.

Jack Chambers: Silver and Gold

Jack Chambers: Silver and Gold

Though best known to many as a painter, the late Jack Chambers also created some important, influential art for the silver screen. As David Balzer reports, a show of Chambers’ overlooked work in both genres, currently on in London, is pure gold.

David Balzer’s Top 3: Haunted Heroes

David Balzer’s Top 3: Haunted Heroes

Echoes of the past—be it tendencies to romantic expression or remakes of unfinished films—run through assistant editor David Balzer’s top picks for the best shows of 2010. And yet, as he notes, these shows are all strikingly contemporary.

Journeys: Migration, Mythologized

Journeys: Migration, Mythologized

Aesthetics meet adventure in “Journeys,” a Montreal exhibition exploring notions of migration by people, objects and concepts. David Balzer reviews, finding an excellent mix of sociology, anthropology, art and storytelling spanning from Liberia to Labrador.

John Massey: Cine Signs

John Massey: Cine Signs

Film history looms large in Toronto artist John Massey’s latest series, After Le Mépris, which draws on Godard’s iconic Contempt. As David Balzer observes, Massey’s interest in modernist cinema matches that of many other Canadian artists.

Eric Fischl: In Deep Water

Eric Fischl: In Deep Water

Celebrated New York artist Eric Fischl has numerous Canadian ties, from his teaching at NSCAD in the 1970s to his current exhibition at Toronto’s Barbara Edwards Contemporary. David Balzer reviews the latter, finding languid, elegant watercolours.

Mira Godard: A Pioneer Passes

Mira Godard: A Pioneer Passes

The national art scene lost a titan last week with the passing of dealer and arts advocate Mira Godard. Now artist Christopher Pratt and dealers Miriam Shiell, Paul Kuhn and Yves Trépanier share thoughts on her legacy.

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Ship O’ Fools

Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller: Ship O’ Fools

At this year’s Luminato festival, the awarding-winning Canadian duo Janet Cardiff and George Bures Miller were a highlight of the visual arts lineup. Reflecting on their newly commissioned installation, Ship O’ Fools, critic David Balzer finds the work rich in compelling paradoxes.

Andrew Rucklidge

Andrew Rucklidge

Most abstract expressionists are landscape painters, and this affiliation is not as restrictive or tricky as many of the former would have us believe. The Toronto artist Andrew Rucklidge embraces both designations.

Janet Werner

Janet Werner

In her well-known portrait paintings, Janet Werner seems fascinated with what George Eliot, in Daniel Deronda, calls pettishness: a peevish brattiness often characteristic of pretty, spoiled girls and (in a possible etymological connection) their pets—cats and toy dogs.

Margaux Williamson

Margaux Williamson

Who knows what Margaux Williamson's paintings are about? Margaux Williamson, that's who—or at least one gathers she does, if not by conscious design then subliminally, like a forgetful dreamer.

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