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Canadian Artist Kathleen Munn Receives Homecoming Exhibition at Art Gallery of Ontario
Kathleen Munn, Last Supper, 1938, graphite on paper, 38.7 x 49.5 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Purchase, 1945 (2797) © 2011 Kathleen Munn Estate.
TORONTO.- The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) opened a unique exhibition featuring Canadian artist Kathleen Munn, on view until August 28. The Passion of Kathleen Munn features nearly 40 works by Munn, including her highly regarded Passion Series drawings, as well as paintings and prints. In addition, the exhibition is supported by archival material from the AGO’s collection, including sketches, notebooks, diagrams, collages and a custom-made light box.

Born in 1887 in Toronto, Kathleen Munn was one of the first Canadian artists to embrace abstraction. Little known yet much admired by fellow artists, Munn studied in New York, and during the 1920s travelled to Europe and exhibited with the Group of Seven. Around 1939, she stopped making art due to family obligations and an unresponsive art public in Toronto. She spent the rest of her life here in relative obscurity, only to be rediscovered a decade after her death in 1974.

Curated by Georgiana Uhlyarik, assistant curator, Canadian art at the AGO, The Passion of Kathleen Munn focuses on the artist’s work and life and is augmented by important additional loans from private collections as well as archival material. Selected works from the exhibition Kathleen Munn and Lowrie Warrener: The Logic of Nature, the Romance of Space, conceived and organized by Cassandra Getty, form the foundation of the AGO installation. That exhibition has traveled across Canada since 2008, when it first opened at the Art Gallery of Windsor (AGW).

“In keeping with our dedication to collecting, exhibiting and researching work by Canadian artists, the AGO is pleased to launch The Passion of Kathleen Munn,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO of the AGO. “Munn’s work was groundbreaking in the history of Canadian art and merits the attention of a wider audience. This exhibition beautifully combines her innovative work with fascinating aspects of her life and process.”

Munn’s landmark works are widely considered to be a group of ten large ink and graphite drawings inspired by scenes from the Passion and Resurrection of Christ that together form The Passion Series. She laboured for a decade, from 1928 to 1939, to produce these intricate final drawings that represent the culmination of Munn’s artistic vision and ambition. A gallery space in the exhibition is devoted exclusively to this series.

“Kathleen Munn is extraordinary in many ways,” explains Uhlyarik. “She created art for art’s sake, was highly meticulous and methodical, and pursued a style and way of thinking about art that was yet to be acknowledged in Canada. Art for her was not a goal to be arrived at, but a way of life.”

Along with renowned Canadian painter David Urban, Uhlyarik will lead a tour of the Kathleen Munn exhibition on Sunday, July 17 at 2 pm. The tour is free with admission.



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