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A Modern Life

Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-1960

edited by Ian Thom & Alan Elder

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contemporary (1945-), canadian, non-classifiable
list price: $32.95
category: Art
published: 2004
  • Winner, International Gallery of Superb Printing Competition - silver medal
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In 1949, the forest magnate, H.R. MacMillan, opened an exhibition at the Vancouver Art Gallery entitled "Design for Living," a show which brought together design and artistic communities to create four imaginary households for postwar Vancouverites. It also heralded an unprecedented level of cooperation between the province's industry and its artists and craftspeople--a relationship that seemed to hold great promise for the development of art, furniture, and craft in BC.

The celebration of the cooperative spirit between "architects, artists and designers," between "potters, weavers and gardeners" is central to A Modern Life, which examines the coming together of what were often very separate disciplines in post-World War II British Columbia, as well as the trend-setting design and use of materials that developed in the province, and the impact these had on the more traditional art community.

A Modern Life demonstrates that the ideas of the artistic and design community as a whole during this vibrant period--an era of optimism and promise for the future, in a province that had reason to believe passionately in what was to come--have a continued relevance and importance for our undestanding of the history of this community and the relationship of the built environment to the extraordinary landscape of BC.

With essays by Rachel Chinnery, Scott Watson, Alan Elder, Allan Collier, and Sherry McKay.

Includes 160 illustrations, including 60 in full-colour. A copublication with the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Designers and artists include: Alice Bradley, Stanley Clarke, Reginald Dixon, Zoltan Kiss, Sasha Makokin, Rex Mason, Wayne Ngan, Leonard Osborne, Mary Osborne, Hilda Ross, Francoise Andre, Peter Aspell, B.C. Binning, Bruni Bobak, Molly Lamb Bobak, Orville Fisher, Herbert Gilbert, Lawren Harris, E.J. Hughes, Don Jarvis, Ann Kipling, Roy Kiyooka, John Koerner, Eric Loewe, J.A.S. Macdonald, Toni Onley, Margaret Peterson, Joe Plaskett, Paul Rand, Jack Shadbolt, David Shilleto, Herbert Siebner, Gordon Smith, Takoe Tanabe, Ronald Thom, Lionel Thomas, Lillias Farley, Robert Hume, William Koochhin, William Percival Weston, Jean Clarke, Jack Hardman, Thomas Kakinuma, Beatrice Lennie, Sybil Andrews, Alistair Macready Bell, Stanley Brunst, Frank Perry, Patricia Irwin, Jock Macdonald, James Harold Willer, and George Kutham.

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About the Authors

Ian Thom

Ian M. Thom is a Senior Curator-Historical at the Vancouver Art Gallery. Involved in Canadian art museums for more than thirty years, he has also held senior curatorial positions at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection. He has organized more than one hundred exhibitions and written numerous articles and authored or co-authored many books, including Robert Davidson: Eagle of the Dawn, Andy Warhol: Images, Art BC, E.J. Hughes, Takao Tanabe, B.C. Binning, Emily Carr: New Perspectives on a Canadian Icon and Challenging Traditions: Contemporary First Nations Art of the Northwest Coast. He lives in Vancouver, BC.
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Alan Elder

Alan is Curator of Canadian Crafts, Decorative Arts and Design at the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa; he has also been a curator at the Power Plant, Ontario Crafts Council, and the Burlington Art Centre. He co-edited (with Ian Thom) A Modern Life: Art and Design in British Columbia 1945-1960.

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