October 2018

Michael Snow, Equals, pencil on paper, 61.3 x 39.8 cm. Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre. Gift of Ron McQueen, 2002. Photo: Andre Beneteau

Michael Snow (b.1929)
Equals, 1965
pencil on paper
61.3 x 39.8 cm
Collection of the MacLaren Art Centre, Barrie.
Gift of Ron McQueen, 2002

Michael Snow is a preeminent Canadian contemporary artist working in a multidisciplinary practice that includes visual art, experimental filmmaking and music. His practice is informed by the conceptual art movement of the mid ‘60s to the mid ‘70s, which challenged the prescriptive institutional criteria that defined art and situated the idea as the fundamental premise of the work. Alongside art luminaries Sol LeWitt, John Baldessari and Lawrence Weiner, he worked outside of traditional modes of artistic production, exploring themes of materiality, perception and duration.

Equals is a pencil drawing on paper that features the striding silhouette of a woman, the most iconic and enduring motif in Snow’s extensive oeuvre. While working in New York City between the early to late ‘60s Snow’s practice made a return to figuration—this shift was marked by an interest in the role of perception typified by his Walking Woman series.

In Equals, the negative and positive spaces create forms that can be looked at or through. Form can be inferred through outlines or rendered through the shading of the full bodied figure. The Walking Woman was borne from his use of a prototype—a stencil—which resulted in the serial output of over two hundred multimedia and eight hundred site-specific works. Walking Woman speaks to Snow’s conceptual strategies: seriality challenges and expands the relationships between medium and motif, original and copy.

Snow has exhibited in national and international exhibitions, including shows at the Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam; Maison Européenne de la Photographie, Paris; and the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; among countless others. He was the first Canadian artist working in photography to receive a solo exhibition at the Canadian pavilion of the Venice Biennale.

Snow’s work is held in the permanent collections of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Musée des Beaux Arts, Montreal; Centre George Pompidou, Paris; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Philadelphia Museum of Fine Arts; and the Vancouver Art Gallery. In recognition of his prolific career, Snow was the recipient of major accolades among them the Governor General’s Award; the Gershon Iskowitz Prize; and the Guggenheim Fellowship. Snow was inducted into the Order of Canada and is a Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des Lettres, Paris. He studied design at the Ontario College of Art and Design and is a self-taught musician. Michael Snow lives and works in Toronto.