New and Classic Works by Francoise Sullivan to Go on Display at AGO

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New and Classic Works by Francoise Sullivan to Go on Display at AGO
"Danse dans la neige", 1948, 17 vintage photographs documenting original performance by Françoise Sullivan. Photo: Maurice Perron.

TORONTO.- An exhibition celebrating the career of pioneering Canadian artist Francoise Sullivan will open at the Art Gallery of Ontario on February 10, 2010. "Françoise Sullivan: Inner Force" – Winner of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO marks Sullivan’s receipt of the 2008 Gershon Iskowitz prize, awarded for her contribution to visual arts in Canada.

The exhibition includes five large scale canvasses from the artist’s recent Hommage series — majestic, abstract works exploding with colour and rhythm, each one dedicated to an artist colleague or friend who has died. Among the artists Sullivan pays tribute to are Jean-Paul Riopelle and Paterson Ewan, her husband of several decades.

“Françoise Sullivan is among the most influential and inventive contemporary Canadian artists,” says David Moos, the AGO’s curator of contemporary art. “In each medium she selects — whether painting, dance, sculpture or photography — Sullivan remains an innovator whose work has made a vital contribution to Canadian visual identity.”

The exhibition also features a ground-breaking series of photographs dating from January 1948 when Sullivan, who had just returned from New York where she had studied dance with Martha Graham, staged her famous Danse dans la Neige — a self choreographed performance in the wintry landscape of Quebec.

Sullivan will be visiting the AGO to mark the exhibition’s opening, participating in two celebratory events: a free performance of four of her dance pieces in Walker Court on February 10, and “Inspired: Francoise Sullivan in Conversation with Robert Enright”, a discussion at the Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School on February 11. Tickets to the discussion are $15 for members and $18 for non-members and can be purchased at

Françoise Sullivan was born in 1925 in Montreal. In a career that has spanned six decades, she has worked fluidly between multiple media, gaining early acclaim for her work as a dancer and choreographer before incorporating painting, sculpture, and photography into her artistic practice. Sullivan was a member of Les Automatistes, a group of Montréal artists who used their work to advocate for artistic and social change during the 1940s and 1950s. She is a member of the Order of Canada and received the Governor General’s Award in the Visual and Media Arts in 2005.

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