Michael Snow’s Remarkable Reach

NOTE: Michael Snow is also updated in the 150 Artists for Canada 150 series, here.

Michael Snow must really be a polymath.  The cultural impact of this Canadian artist, filmmaker, musician, videographer, sculptor and painter is phenomenal, given that just two of his remarkable installations hold thousands of tourists (and locals) spellbound at Toronto landmarks annually.

His works include the two-part “Audience” sculpture atop the Rogers Centre, a domed stadium near the lake (above), and the arresting installation of 60 life-size, fibre-glass Canada geese in flight across the atrium of the Eaton Centre shopping mall in the downtown core.

(Photo above: Don Shall; below: Toronto Life)

I was reminded of Michael Snow’s impact – and how little we take account of his artistic reach – when I posted about the Vancouver Art Gallery’s new exhibit  on art in Canada in the 1960s earlier this week.   Snow’s important 1963 canvas,”Lights Out,”  provides the title for the seminal Vancouver show.

The Rogers Centre sculptures, installed in 1989, feature sports fans gesturing  in disgust, clapping, taking photographs and sneering.  Two groups pop out from the stadium’s northeast and northwest facades.


Photo: from One Off Man on Flickr

The Toronto born artist won the 2011 Gershon Iskowitz prize for his contribution to the visual arts in Canada and is a noted musician as well,  sometimes to the point of  quirky.

Have a listen to the excerpts from this 1972 composition

His art, always experimental, has been mainly holographic and photo-based since the 1960s.

But even his early pieces are on that era’s cutting edge.

Black Sun, 1954 – gouache & graphite, wove paper, National Gallery of Canada.

His most famous works are the dozens of applications of his Walking Woman theme, emblematic of the pop art scene of the 1960s.  Using the original cardboard cutout of one woman’s form, Snow focused on applying the image to canvas, paper, sheets of metal and glass, in film and on silkscreen for six years.

-From the Walking Woman series

Snow is considered a world leader in experimental film and his art, sculpture, video installations, and his music, have also brought him recognition worldwide – producing (among other awards)  a Guggenheim Fellowship (1972) the Order of Canada (Officer, 1982; Companion, 2007), and the first Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2000) for cinema.  Snow was made a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres, France (1995).

Michael Snow’s artworks here (search his name / English or French)

Snow’s discography here

A brief overview of Snow’s film works here.

His sculpture at the Art Gallery of Ontario here.

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