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The Vancouver Art Gallery explores the impact of the nuclear age through the lens of art
Nancy Spero, Bomb and Victims, 1967. Gouache, ink on paper. Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Gift of Keith Westergaard and Cordell Couillard © Estate of Nancy Spero/SODRAC, Montreal/VAGA, New York (2018).


VAMCOUVER.- The Vancouver Art Gallery presents BOMBHEAD (March 3 – June 17, 2018), a thematic exhibition that explores the emergence and ongoing impact of the nuclear age through the work of artists, designers, filmmakers, photojournalists and physicists.

Guest curated by John O’Brian, Professor Emeritus of Art History, Visual Art & Theory at the University of British Columbia, BOMBHEAD combines atomic ephemera with artworks drawn primarily from the Vancouver Art Gallery’s collection. Encompassing the pre- and postwar period from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 to the triple meltdown at Fukushima Daiichi in 2011, the exhibition brings together paintings, drawings, prints, sculpture, photographs, film and video that deal with this often dark subject matter, strongly associated with obliteration and destruction.

“We are very pleased to present BOMBHEAD, which explores the profound cultural and ecological impact of nuclear technologies through the art and visual culture of the nuclear era,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “In a time marked by ongoing nuclear proliferation this timely exhibition compels us to observe and reflect on the major role Canada has played in nuclear events since their emergence in the mid-twentieth century.”

Artists in the exhibition include: Carl Beam, Henry Busse, Blaine Campbell, Bruce Conner, Gregory Coyes, Robert Del Tredici, Wang Du, Harold Edgerton, Gathie Falk, Robert Filliou, Richard Finnie, Betty Goodwin, Adolph Gottlieb, David Hockney, Jenny Holzer, Robert Keziere, Roy Kiyooka, Bob Light and John Houston, Ishiuchi Miyako, Carel Moiseiwitsch, Bruce Nauman, Andrea Pineiro, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Mark Ruwedel, John Scott, Erin Siddall, Nancy Spero and Barbara Todd.

The themes explored in this exhibition will strongly resonate with the works on view in Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg (February 3 – May 6, 2018), which reflect Murakami’s own reckoning with the nuclear age.

John O’Brian is an art historian, writer and curator. He has organized exhibitions on photography and the nuclear era—The Nuclear Machine (Copenhagen, 2016), Camera Atomica (Toronto, 2015), After the Flash (London, 2014), Strangelove’s Weegee (Vancouver, 2013)—and published twenty books, including Ruthless Hedonism: The American Reception of Matisse and David Milne and the Modern Tradition of Painting as well as Clement Greenberg: The Collected Essays and Criticism, which he edited. He lives in Vancouver and until recently taught at the University of British Columbia.





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