Masterworks Now! Celebrating new acquisitions of historical, modern and contemporary art

Eric Fischl (American, b. 1948) Fishing Prayer (detail), 1976; Captured Fish (detail), 1976, sculpture. Purchased in honour of Alison McCain with funds from the McCain Family

September 26 - December 7, 2015    |    Regular Exhibition

Celebrating new acquisitions of historical, modern and contemporary art

The exhibition Masterworks from the Beaverbrook Art Gallery was exhibited to great acclaim for the appreciation of enthusiastic audiences. The show’s Fredericton run has now concluded; it is being packed up, readied for shipment for display across North America over the next two years as we undertake our exciting gallery building expansion and renovation plans. While we might lament the temporary absence from our walls of these cherished 80 icons, we really have much, much more instead to rejoice, celebrate and cheer about. After all, your public art collection at Beaverbrook is approaching 4000 works strong. The variety and quality of this holding affords us opportunity to present countless variations and versions of our Masterworks presentation; each of us may have our own personal collection favorites.

This fall we provide a quick first peek at a fraction of the exciting 400+ new works that have recently been added to your collection. As you saw, our prior exhibition chose to highlight works that were at the heart of the founding gifts made in the late 1950s and early 1960s. By contrast, we are playfully dubbing our new display: Masterworks Now. As we make preparations for the new-look expanded Beaverbrook Art Gallery building, we thought it made sense to give a bit of a preview of how the current donations and acquisitions activity is reinvigorating our collections. Progress is being made in historical, modern and contemporary art; Canadian, British and International. There are many promised gifts that will also bolster our abilities to present significant additions in the area of First Nations Art.

As you enter the exhibition you will encounter something of a primer, a number of wonderful individual works that touch on many of the collection’s areas of traditional strength, historical works particularly pertaining to Atlantic Canada, mid-century abstraction and interest in representing dominant international art movements of the past century. It would be difficult to construct a cohesive narrative to conjoin all these wonderful individual works. Suffice it to say that it indicates that your art gallery is embracing its responsibility to provide contact with outstanding experiences in our core areas of collections. Rather than create a forced and artificial narrative, we have included some individual vignettes exploring a representative sampling of key recent acquisitions.

That said, we did choose to weight the presentation of the new acquisitions displayed in the Sir Max Aitken Gallery as an intended complement to the theme explored elsewhere throughout the rest of the Beaverbrook Art Gallery. The McCain Exhibition curatorial theme addresses the notion of landscape and place. As it turns out, many outstanding recently gifted works historic and contemporary reflect related concerns. Whether they are historical or contemporary works few that I can think of picture wilderness or landscapes as a chronicle of an admired picturesque place. Instead, they ruminate upon what humans ‘do’ with images of nature. They ask us to be aware of the collision of the natural world with our intrusions upon it. Sometimes these are our direct physical imprints upon the landforms. In others, it is the interjection of our mind, the perceptions of a place modified by our recollections, histories, fantasies, ideas, theories, spiritual or religious needs. Our perception of nature is governed by our conception of nature.

The exhibition includes contemporary works by: Eric Fischl, John Hartman, Iain Baxter, Holly King, Vikky Alexander, Marlene Creates, Will Gorlitz, Douglas Kirton, Franz Spohn, Allan Mackay, and David Blackwood, as well as historical works by B.C. Binning, York Wilson, William Ronald, Armand Vaillancourt, Fritz Brandtner, Claude Tousignant, Joseph Norris, John Hammond, Henry Sandham, M.A. Suzor-Cote, Archibald Browne, Goodridge Roberts, Jack Humphrey, and Lucy Jarvis.

Curator: Jeffrey Spalding, Senior Curator
Organised by the Beaverbrook Art Gallery


Eric Fischl (American, b. 1948), Fishing Prayer, 1976; Captured Fish, 1976, sculpture. Purchased in honour of Alison McCain with funds from the McCain Family