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News / June 23, 2017

News in Brief: AGO Acquires 522 Diane Arbus Photos, Vancouver Art Gallery’s Plaza Gets $9.6-Million Makeover, National Portrait Gallery Plans Dashed

The Art Gallery of Ontario’s recent purchase makes their collection of work by the late American photographer the largest in Canada.
Diane Arbus, <em>Jack Dracula lying by a tree, N.Y.C.</em>, 1961. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, gift of Phil Lind, 2016. Copyright the Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC. Diane Arbus, Jack Dracula lying by a tree, N.Y.C., 1961. Gelatin silver print. Collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario, gift of Phil Lind, 2016. Copyright the Estate of Diane Arbus, LLC.

Our editors’ weekly roundup of Canadian art news.

The Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto announced in a press release today that it has made a major acquisition of 522 prints by American artist Diane Arbus. The works were purchased through Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, and include images from a range of moments in Arbus’s career: there are selections from her lesser-known early work, later commercial photography for magazines and square-format images, which she began in 1962. A number of donors to the gallery helped provide funds for the purchase. The acquisition means that the AGO has the largest collection of Arbus works in Canada, and one of the most significant international collections.

The City of Vancouver unveiled a $9.6-million renovation to the Vancouver Art Gallery’s northern plaza on Thursday. Changes to the public space’s paving and an underground water membrane were made, in addition to updates to the landscaping and overall accessibility. The space has been a site for public gatherings, including the 2011 Occupy Vancouver demonstrations, and will host events for the city’s Jazz Festival this weekend.

Two prominent Toronto artists were recognized in the city: photographer Edward Burtynsky was conferred an honorary degree by the University of Toronto, while conceptual artist Michael Snow had a laneway named after him in the Republic of Rathnelly, an area north of downtown Toronto that declared itself an independent republic in 1967.

For some time, various contingents have been pushing for a revival of a National Portrait Gallery, which they hoped could be housed at the old US embassy at 100 Wellington Street in Ottawa, and could display the portrait collection in the Library and Archives vault in Gatineau. However, this week plans were announced for an Indigenous cultural centre at that location, and the government clarified that it is not looking for an alternate site for the gallery. “There’s presently no project for the portrait gallery,” said Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly.