The National Gallery of Canada announces the passing of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander CC OBC

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The National Gallery of Canada announces the passing of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander CC OBC
The National Gallery of Canada was honoured to work for so many years with Cornelia Oberlander. Photo: NGC, Ottawa.

OTTAWA.- The National Gallery of Canada announced the death of Cornelia Hahn Oberlander, C.C., O.B.C. (June 20, 1921-May 22, 2021) who served as the chief landscape architect for the design and construction of the magnificent home of the National Gallery.

Oberlander worked in collaboration with NGC architect Moshe Safdie from 1983 to 1988 on the landscaping of the grounds for the Gallery. The building opened in 1988, but three decades later her work continues to enchant visitors. Cornelia Oberlander believed in the concept of “wilding” which meant to create landscapes that would grow and mature as they would in nature.

“To be in the presence of Cornelia Oberlander was to know someone who believed in nature and how it affects the way we experience art whether we are outside a magnificent building or inside an intimate courtyard. Cornelia Oberlander believed in sustainability and the power of landscape architecture to evoke some of the greatest works of art in our collection. I was honoured to meet her, and her work will live on at the Gallery, as Cornelia was the creator of so many of our gardens and natural spaces,” said Sasha Suda, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

Oberlander’s inspiration came from several works of art in the National Gallery’s collection including:

• The Taiga Garden inspired by a painting by Group of Seven artist A. Y. Jackson Terre Sauvage, 1913 NGC Collection

• The Minimalist Courtyard, referring to the art of Donald Judd and Carl Andre. Twelve flowering crab apples positioned 3.7 meters (12 feet) on the centre and set within an exterior courtyard of crushed grey gravel.

• The Allée: starts at Sussex Drive, passes between the then National War Museum (now The Global Center for Pluralism) and the Gallery and emerges at Nepean Point as the Op-Art Path (a zigzag path).

As part of the redesign of the National Gallery of Canada’s Indigenous and Canadian Galleries, Oberlander, who created the original design of the Interior Garden Courtyard, redesigned entirely with the collaboration of Gauthier & Associates Landscape Architecture to celebrate Canada 150th birthday, bringing the Canadian Shield inside the courtyard. The space was renamed in 2017 Cour Fred and Elizabeth Fountain Garden Court.

The internationally renown landscape architect also worked with artist Roxy Paine for the placement of One Hundred Foot Line on Nepean Point in 2010. From 2015 to 2018, she redesigned with the collaboration of Gauthier & Associates Landscape Architecture the grounds of the Canada Pavilion in Venice as part of the renovation of the iconic building.

Cornelia Oberlander was the recipient of many awards and honours including:

• the Inaugural recipient of the Governor General’s Medal in Landscape Architecture, in 2016

• the Companion of the Order of Canada, in 2017

The National Gallery of Canada was honoured to work for so many years with Cornelia Oberlander, she continued to share her creativity with us well into her 90s. The National Gallery of Canada extends its condolences to Oberlander’s family and many dear friends across the country

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