The art collection focuses primarily on northwestern North America. It features works in all media from the 19th century to the present. Its strengths are prints and drawings, Western art, 19th century railway artists, Arctic art, abstraction and extensive individual collections of many important artists from Western Canada.
Up to 1914
Glenbow Museum's nineteenth century art is strong in works on paper featuring topographical and illustrative images that were created by itinerant artists. Another significant part of the collection relates to the exploration of the Arctic, and a large body of works by artists whose trips to the West were promoted and sponsored by the Canadian Pacific Railway.
1915 to 1969
Artists in the modern era, working in a wide variety of styles, placed emphasis on personal expression and freedom. Alberta artists in the first half of the twentieth century were greatly influenced by artists who came to the province to teach. Gradually, professional art societies and art schools produced a vibrant population of local artists. Glenbow has an exceptional collection of modern art by important Alberta artists as well as strong holdings representative of developments in other parts of Canada.
1970 to Present
By the 1970s the preoccupation of many artists with formalism had shifted to embrace broader societal issues related to contemporary life, identity, race, gender, and multiculturalism. Postmodernism introduced a new awareness and self-consciousness, which led many artists to challenge the assumptions underlying Western society. Glenbow curators have been successful in adding strong contemporary voices to the art collection. Although the collecting focus continues to be Western Canada, artists from other parts of Canada are represented in the collection.
First Peoples up to 1975
Glenbow has a wonderful Inuit collection from the early years of commercial art production, including sculpture from the 1940s and 1950s, and some of the first drawings and prints produced in Cape Dorset and other communities. In terms of First Nations art produced before 1975, Glenbow's collection features strong holdings of important early work by artists like Norval Morrisseau, Alex Janvier, and Gerald Tailfeathers.
The art research collections include: Sybil Andrews, Henry George Glyde, Laurence Hyde, Ledger Drawings, Walter J. Phillips, Carl Rungius, Margaret Shelton, and prints and drawings.
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