"Portrait of a Somali Woman"
Allan Harding MacKay, "Portrait of a Somali Woman," 1993, charcoal and pastel on paper, 121 x 136.5 cm
"A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan"
Canada’s personal, dramatic, and poignant involvement in international conflict since the Second World War is highlighted in a new exhibition, "A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan," now on view at The Military Museums in The Founders’ Gallery.
"A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan" draws on important yet often little-known artwork in the Canadian War Museum’s Beaverbrook Collection of War Art and other collections to provide a visually striking presentation of the Canadian military experience from 1946 to 2008. The exhibition reflects a surprising variety of Canadian artistic responses to recent military events ranging from the relatively documentary to the highly personal and emotionally charged.
The first two war art programs of the First and Second World Wars, the Canadian War Memorials and the Canadian War Records, engaged more than 150 artists, including celebrated painters A. Y. Jackson and Alex Colville, and produced over 5,000 works.
The advent of the Canadian Armed Forces Civilian Artists Program (CAFCAP) in 1968 and the ongoing Canadian Forces Artists Program (CFAP) marked the re-establishment of official military art in Canada. Over the next 27 years, 40 civilian artists would create nearly 300 works depicting the Canadian Forces operating and training in Canada and around the world. The Cold War against the Soviet Union and its allies provided rich subject matter while later artists captured Canada’s peacekeeping missions and participation in the Gulf War conflict.
In the 1990s, CAFCAP artists responded to new directions in contemporary art, as did those working independently or on commissions, including Gertrude Kearns, William MacDonnell and Allan Harding MacKay. Witnesses to Canada’s complex missions in Croatia, Kosovo, and Somalia these artists adopted more heavily interpreted and abstract approaches. Often large in scale, their works differ noticeably from the generally smaller and more documentary art previously produced.
A Brush with War: Military Art from Korea to Afghanistan is organized by the Canadian War Museum in partnership with the Directorate of History and Heritage, Department of National Defence (DND). It has been made possible in part by a generous donation from the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation.
Media interviews: Dr. Laura Brandon, Canadian War Museum
Curator of the exhibition, will be in Calgary August 2
Donna Livingstone Marketing and Communications
Libraries and Cultural Resources, University of Calgary