Francis Bacon, British, 1909–1992, Study for Portrait No. 1, 1956. Oil on canvas, 197.7 x 142.3 cm. Purchased 1957; 6746 © Francis Bacon Estate / SODRAC (2012). Photo © NGC. Lent by : National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
Abstraction to Pop Art: 1950-1980
The mid-20th-century works in this gallery exemplify the populism of the abstract form in art, and the shift from Europe to North America with the leaders of the avant-garde. Abstract Expressionism’s gestural application of paint privileged the very act of creation in art-making. A commitment to contemporaneity was key, and the purely formal aspects of art objects were highly considered. For example, Post-painterly Abstraction was rooted in the premise that a painting is a physical object rather than a symbol or reference to something else, and made use of its physicality in art production. In this gallery, Kineticism brings sculpture to life, and Canadian multilateralism is honoured. The influence of the commercial world, mechanical reproduction, and everyday visual culture can also be felt here - particularly in Pop Art – which freely mixed both high and low culture. A physical and intellectual counterpoint to these sentiments emerged through Land Art, which rejected art’s commerciality and took to the land as both a site and means to produce work.