Aboriginal and Canadian contemporary artist Carl Beam broke barriers in 1986 when the National Gallery of Canada bought The North American Iceberg, its first-ever purchase of a work by a First Nations artist.
The Anishinaabe-descended artist, who died in 2005, will be remembered in a 50-piece retrospective of his work at the Gallery that’s running through January 16, 2011, and will continue on to two other Canadian cities as well as New York City’s Museum of the American Indian, on a tour lasting till 2013.
The National Gallery’s Web site calls Beam a “vital force in contemporary art in Canada…. His powerful works explore the space between indigenous and other cultural view of our collective ‘place’ within the universe/cosmos” in works that show “his awareness of communal and global concerns.”
The exhibit includes five pieces that the Gallery acquired in 2010. It covers his complete career, from the late 1970s through 2004, depicting his exploration of the metaphysical aspects of Western and Indigenous cultures through a variety of media including his large-scale paintings, ceramics, constructions and video, the Gallery said.
“Carl Beam’s work holds a special place within the art history of Canada and within the collection of the National Gallery,” said National Gallery director Marc Mayer in the museum’s statement. “Beam was a powerful voice in contemporary art in Canada, a key Anishinaabe artist who drew upon all the cultural resources at his disposal to make an unforgettable body of work with universal implication.”
The exhibit will make a stop in New York on its tour and then return to Canada.
- Museum of Anthropology, University of British Columbia, Vancouver: April 7 – May 29, 2011
- Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg: June 30 - September 11, 2011
- National Museum of the American Indian, New York: October 2011 – January 2012
- MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan: September – November 2012
- Thunder Bay Art Gallery, Thunder Bay: January – March 2013