Survey about the McMaster Museum of Art


Thank you to all who have completed our “Knowing our Audience” survey.

Now, please help us as we move forward to the next step of our strategic plan with a second short survey to tell us what you think of the McMaster Museum of Art – what you like and what you’d like to see us do differently.

Please take a couple of minutes to Take the Survey:

And thank you in advance!

The Art of the Book: Rabbi Bernard Baskin, book collector


In partnership with McMaster University Library, the McMaster Museum of Art proudly presents The Art of the Book, an exhibition celebrating the generosity of Rabbi Bernard Baskin, a household name in the Hamilton community. Over the years, the Rabbi has donated nearly 1000 volumes to the Library at McMaster, and to the Museum, hundreds of works of art by his brother, the well known American sculptor, printmaker and private press editor, Leonard Baskin (1922 – 2000).

Books are more than a passing fascination for Rabbi Baskin. They represent a way of life mirroring the wonder and complexity of human creation. For fifty years he has been an assiduous book collector, and in that time has amassed 10,000 books. For years, he was the proprietor of Ibis Books and Arts, an antiquarian bookselling firm that specialized in Judaica, typography, private press books, pre-1800 books and manuscripts, illustrated books, art and the occult. Selections of this rare material will foreground the exhibition content, while supporting volumes and prints from the Museum’s collection will round out the story of Baskin, the collector.

Born in New Jersey, Rabbi Bernard Baskin graduated with a B.A. degree from Brooklyn College and with a Masters of Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City. He came to Hamilton’s Temple Anshe Sholom, the oldest Reform Congregation in Canada, over 60 years ago. The Rabbi is now retired and lives in Hamilton.

The Art of the Book has been curated by Renu Barrett, Archivist, Mills Memorial Library, McMaster University and is on view at the McMaster Museum of Art, until December 20, 2014.

Collector’s Talk by Rabbi Bernard Baskin followed by Reception: September 18,  6 – 8 pm

Tour and Bookmaking Workshop: For the Love of Books:
September 27, 12 – 4 pm
Docent guided tour of THE ART OF THE BOOK exhibition followed by BeetleBarrow Studios Bookmaking Workshop. FREE. Space is limited, REGISTER: A Canada Culture Days  2014 Event

Histoire de la decouverte et de la conquete du Perou, 1716. book, Gift of Rabbi Baskin, Collection of McMaster Unversity Library

Histoire de la decouverte et de la conquete du Perou, 1716. book, Gift of Rabbi Baskin, Collection of McMaster Unversity Library

Leopold Plotek’s Artist Talk – Video

Leopold Plotek speaking at Reception at McMaster Museum of Art

Leopold Plotek at the Opening Reception at McMaster Museum of Art

Leopold Plotek is both artist and co-curator (with Ben Portis) of the exhibition Workingman’s Dead: Lives of the Artists, now on view at the McMaster Museum of Art. He is also an instructor of painting and drawing in the Studio Art Program at Concordia University.

After the Workingman’s Dead exhibition was installed at McMaster in late August, Leopold spoke about it and his painting before heading back to Montreal to teach. We’re grateful to him and to the MacLaren Art Centre for allowing us to share the video of that talk, interspersed with images, many from the SOVFOTO photography collection.

Here it is:

Reception Week Photos

In Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces Exhibition.

In Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces Exhibition.

Last week, the Museum opened new exhibitions with Artist Talks and a Reception on Thursday evening. Thanks to everyone who joined us to celebrate the artists – Ian Johnston, Leopold Plotek and the late Graham Todd –  and their work. Here are some pics from the week:

Workingman’s Dead: Lives of the Artists

Leopold Plotek, Self-portrait with a Zek, Hotel Metropol, 1948, 2005 oil on canvas 218.4 x 167.6 cm Courtesy of the artist and Han Art Gallery, Montréal

Leopold Plotek, Self-portrait with a Zek, Hotel Metropol, 1948, 2005
oil on canvas, 218.4 x 167.6 cm, Courtesy of the artist and Han Art Gallery, Montréal

The McMaster Museum of Art (MMA) proudly presents Workingman’s Dead: Lives of the Artists, an exhibition of paintings by Leopold Plotek and selections from the SOVFOTO Archive.  The exhibition is curated by  Leopold Plotek and Ben Portis, and has been organized by the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie, Ontario.

It is on view in the MMA’s Sherman Gallery from  August 28 – October 25 2014.

Reception:  September 11, 6 – 8 pm (Artist will be present)
Docent Guided Tour: September 17 at 12:30 pm for Lifelong Learning Week

The status of the artist in the Soviet Union from the Russian Revolution of 1917 to the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 followed one of history’s remarkable, unprecedented arcs. In the 1920s, artists — including painters, sculptors, architects, novelists, playwrights, poets, composers, musicians, dancers, actors, dramaturges and filmmakers — were the vaunted designers of the new society. In the 1930s, these same individuals met derision, obsolescence and ignominy, suffering the fullest abuses of the state if defiant. By the 1940s, a morbid conservatism and bourgeoisie befell those who had toed the party line and survived to reap official accolades from a system to which they barely remained relevant.

In this exhibition, photographic clusters of venerated Soviet period figures are displayed among painted and verbal tributes to their lives by Montreal artist Leopold Plotek—born in Moscow in 1948—for whom the concessions, indignities and humilities of Soviet artists has been a recurring subject.

Here are some installation views:

Leopold Plotek fuses the Modernist picture with a Baroque compositional palette. He blends historical figures and settings into timeless screens that continue to filter and activate contemporary society. Plotek imagines artists, poets, philosophers, clerics, generals, politicians and mythological gods in mundane, humble and absurd situations, putting the pantheon on precarious grounds.

Plotek has lived and worked in Montreal since 1960.  He teaches at Concordia University. The exhibition publication was co-produced by the MacLaren Art Centre and McMaster Museum of Art.

The Sovfoto Archive in the Permanent Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre is comprised of over 23,000 press file prints that were formerly kept at the Sovfoto Agency in New York, the international outlet for official journalistic photography of the Soviet Union. It still operates today, known as Sovfoto/Eastfoto.

Workingman’s Dead: Lives of the Artists
is accompanied by a 20-page illustrated catalogue published by the MacLaren Art Centre and McMaster Museum of Art individual. It contains essays by Leopold Plotek and Ben Portis. It is available at a cost of $5 at McMaster Museum of Art.

Artist’s Talk
Leopold Plotek’s Artist Talk was recorded at the McMaster Museum of Art on August 26. The video will be posted online soon.

Photographer unknown, Stalin Prize winner sculptor V.I. Mukhina, one of the co-authors of the Gogol monument in Moscow, March 1952. 23.5 x 16.5 cm. No. 14819. Courtesy of the MacLaren Art Centre.

Photographer unknown, Stalin Prize winner sculptor V.I. Mukhina, one of the co-authors of the Gogol monument in Moscow, March 1952. 23.5 x 16.5 cm. No. 14819. Courtesy of the MacLaren Art Centre.

Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces

Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces,  installation view, McMaster Museum of Art

Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces, installation view, McMaster Museum of Art

The McMaster Museum of Art proudly presents a memorial / retrospective exhibition of work by the artist, and much-loved member of our McMaster community, Graham Todd  (1946-2013) .

For nearly 30 years Graham Todd (1946-2013) taught as a Professor in McMaster’s Studio Art programme, and continued his own active studio practice, exhibiting his sculptural work in Canada and internationally in Spain, Mexico, and the USA. Graham’s work can be found in private and public collections around the world.

This memorial exhibition offers an overview from 1982 to the last untitled works in 2013, being shown for the first time.  The twenty sculptural works, all from Graham’s Estate, range in scale from his intimate Japanese series done in 1992, to a 220 cm high tower assemblage done in 1996.  One connective tissue is the inspiration from travels around the world.  In a 2008 exhibition publication, Graham touched on this aspect of his practice:

Influences flit like illusive peripheral shadows evading capture.  Stimulants race ahead, observations distill and crystallize…are they stories or poems?

He also described his approach to making:

 I build objects. Clay is my ink, shapes are my letters, form is my syntax, and structure is my synopsis. My works have a beginning,  middle and an end.

Graham Todd: Imaginary Spaces  will also include examples of his sketchbooks and Chris Ward’s video interview with the artist, done in 2012.

The exhibition runs 11 September 2014 – 25 April 2015 in our 4th floor  Tomlinson Gallery.

Opening Reception on  September 11, 6 – 8 pm.

Talk by sculptor Reinhard Reitzenstein:  October 17, 12:30 pm
GT stands for Graham Todd, Gin & Tonic, Getting Tougher / Making Art During one’s 4th Decade

Ian Johnston: The Chamber

Ian Johnston: The Chamber

Ian Johnston: The Chamber

McMaster Museum of Art presents Ian Johnston’s The Chamber August 28 – October 25 2014 in our Panabaker Gallery.
Curators:  Joanne Marion and Linda Jansma

ARTIST’S TALK:  September 11, 12:30 – 1:20 pm
 September 11, 6 – 8 pm (Artist will be present)
DOCENT TALK:  September 16 at 12:30 pm for Lifelong Learning Week

The Chamber is an installation by architect-turned-sculptor Ian Johnston, whose work raises questions about our relationship to material culture—or, more specifically, about our current culture’s voracious appetite for the consumption of material things. The Chamber—one part of a series of works titled, Reinventing Consumption—is an inflating and deflating piece which shrouds and reveals an enormous mass of household items diverted from waste stream in Medicine Hat. It provides a space to contemplate the environmental impact of mass production through the forces of breath, fire, and water.

Ian Johnston is based in Nelson, BC. He studied architecture at Algonquin College and Carleton University in Ottawa, and with the University of Toronto at Paris, France. From late 1990 to late 1994, Johnston was based at the Akademie of the Bauhaus Dessau and co-developed experimental and interdisciplinary studio programs working through architecture, design and urban planning.  He returned to Canada in early 1995. He has exhibited his sculptural ceramic work internationally since the mid-nineties. His current work examines our relationship with the environment in installations that use ceramic and mixed media and appeal to multiple senses of the viewer.

In 2013, Johnston was interviewed by Sheryl MacKay on CBC’s North by Northwest. In the interview (below) he discusses The Chamber and Reinventing Consumption:

Presented in partnership with the Esplanade Art Gallery, The Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Art Gallery of Swift Current, Dunlop Art Gallery and Access Gallery.

The catalogue produced by the gallery partners, includes essays by Kimberly Phillips (Access Gallery) and Ihor Holubizky (McMaster Museum of Art). It is available for $15.

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