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David Balzer Announced as Canadian Art’s Editor-in-Chief

Award-winning critic, editor and author David Balzer is taking the helm of Canada’s most widely read art magazine. Today, the Canadian Art Foundation—the charitable foundation that publishes Canadian Art—publicly announced Balzer’s appointment as editor-in-chief of Canadian Art.

A large number of applications for the position of editor-in-chief were received from across the country, and with the support of the foundation’s selection committee, Balzer was chosen as the top candidate to provide leadership for all of Canadian Art‘s content development platforms.

“I am excited to continue my work with Canadian Art as editor-in-chief,” says Balzer. “We have a very talented editorial staff and they will be central to how I shape and direct the publication moving forward. My commitment is to intelligent but accessible coverage of contemporary visual art and culture, online and in print. I want to provoke conversation, and in doing so reflect the diversity and dynamism of the Canadian artworld, both nationally and internationally.” His first issue of Canadian Art is slated to be Fall 2016.

“The Canadian Art Foundation recently completed a cross-Canada consultation to renew its vision—to be the voice for visual arts in Canada. After a thorough and national search, David Balzer was appointed, as he embodies this new vision in both its spirit and intent—working to ensure all Canadians are part of our visual art nation,” says Jill Birch, CEO of the foundation and publisher of Canadian Art.

Balzer has written about art and culture for numerous publications nationally and internationally, among them the Guardian, the Globe and Mail, Artforum, Toronto Life, the Believer, the Walrus, Camera Austria and Modern Painters.

Balzer’s recent critical study Curationism: How Curating Took Over the Art World and Everything Else, published in North America by Coach House Books and in Europe and the UK by Pluto Press, has received wide acclaim, with favourable coverage in the LA Times, the London Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, the Spectator and more. ArtReview called Curationism “insightful, provocative and entertaining.” Curationism has recently been shortlisted by London’s ICA Bookshop for Book of the Year.

In late 2015, Balzer was named the recipient of the International Award for Art Criticism, a prize co-presented by London’s Royal College of Art and Shanghai’s Minsheng Art Museum, for his essay “Douglas Coupland Doesn’t Care About You.” Two National Magazine Awards have also marked Balzer’s career. Further, he is a co-founder of the Toronto Alliance of Art Critics. He is also the author of the short fiction collection Contrivances, released in 2012 by Joyland.

Editorially, Balzer has worked for TorStar, TIFF and others—in addition to his five years at the Canadian Art Foundation as associate editor and, this year, as deputy editor.

He has contributed to monographic publications on artists such as Michaël Borremans, Janet Werner and Margaux Williamson, and has lectured at universities and colleges across Canada and elsewhere.

Born in Winnipeg, Balzer received his BA in English at the University of Manitoba and his MA in English at McGill University in Montreal.

Balzer succeeds Richard Rhodes, who retired from the magazine in December 2015 after nearly 20 years with the publication.

This article was updated on January 14, 2016, at 9:55 a.m.

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Robert Youds says:

Dear David,

First things first, a big congratulations on your new position as editor-in-chief of Canadian Art! I look forward with great interest to your new stewardship of Canada’s number one art journal.

Today I am writing on behalf of my department at the University of Victoria to express our extreme disappointment of having been left out of the most recent edition of Canadian Art’s “Art School Roundup”. I say this respectfully, recognizing that making lists most always comes with the risk of exclusion, planned or otherwise. And also recognizing to that this perceived exclusion was not done under your direction. However, the more I thought about UVic having been left out of the current list, the more I wanted to set the record straight. Arguably, we are and have been historically, one of a handful of the top visual arts programs in the country. To briefly reinforce this claim I too have comprised a list (within a matter of a few seconds) consisting of the names of some our graduates (certainly missing many others). Lisa Baldessera, Jessica Stockholder, Kim Adams, Althea Thauberger, Barbara Fisher, James Carl, Kelly Jazvac, Jackson 2Bears, Patrick Howlett, Michael Drebert, Carl Beam, Bill Burns, Erin Shirreff, Kevin Yates, Marianne Nicholson, Christian Giroux, Jim Holyoak, Joel Sherman, Frank Shebageget, myself…etc, etc.

Perhaps many of the other schools listed in the magazines profile could also produce such a prodigious list too, I don’t know. I also understand that the “Legacy of Conceptualism” was the rubric in which a lot of these schools were listed. However, there are a couple of major problems not only with this vague term or category but many of the schools listed would more accurately fall within the description of material practices. This term also is a little misleading, because since the time of the late 60’s there has been few areas of creative output that could be defined exclusively by material practices – more like expanded fields and material practices. Expanded Fields I would suggest is in general a little more honest/accurate than the common and almost now meaningless usage of the term Conceptualism. But this statement I am making around vague language constructs is best saved for a later time.

Another very concerning aspect of the art school profile is the appearance of what might be perceived as geographic determinism at work – a full page dedicated to Toronto schools, two pages of Ontario Schools – really? Do they all represent this supposed Legacy of Conceptualism – I rather think not.

Finally, I want to make it clear that I think UVic Visual Arts Program needs to share a little responsibility in what perhaps has lead to this oversight. We have never been aggressive self promoters of our considerable accomplishments (even the ad that was run to represent us in the issue was not authored from within our department).

I hope my letter will spur you and your team at Canadian Art to consider representing not only us here on the true West Coast (not Vancouver) but also other small locations making substantial cultural contributions.


Robert Youds

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