Staging Abstraction [Art Gallery of Hamilton]

Founded in 1914, the Art Gallery of Hamilton is the oldest and largest public art gallery in southwestern Ontario. Its permanent collection, which is focused on historical Canadian, 19th-century European and Contemporary art, now numbers more than 10,000 works and is recognized as one of the finest in Canada.

The AGH is a vital creative hub and centre of lifelong learning that enables people of all ages to enrich their lives by gaining a deeper understanding of art.

Gallery Hours: ​Tuesday & Wednesday 11am - 6pm; Thursday 11am - 8pm; 
Friday 11am - 6pm; Saturday & Sunday 12 noon - 5pm


Staging Abstraction

Paintings from the Collection

On view April 23, 2016 to March 19, 2017 
Co-curated by local painter Daniel Hutchinson and Melissa Bennett, AGH Curator of Contemporary Art

Staging Abstraction features quintessential examples of Canadian abstract painting from the 1960s to the 1980s. Many of the works were brought into the collection in their time as the artists were emerging, and through subsequent donations as the Gallery became recognized as a key institutional collector of late modern and postmodern Canadian abstraction. The Gallery now holds nearly six hundred abstract paintings from this period, comprising over a quarter of the museum’s contemporary holdings—yet very few of the works on view here have been exhibited in the last twenty-five years.

Abstract painting faced a crisis beginning in the late 1960s, as new categories of art such as video, installation and performance challenged the compelling narrative of modernist painting, which prioritized pure painting as its own subject. Just a short decade later the art market surged around neo-expressionism, but abstraction as a whole faced renewed criticism. Artists began to adapt the medium, responding with hybridized paintings, often containing several styles and media within a single work. Conceptual and reflexive approaches flourished, and artists often considered social and political content through abstraction.

Over twenty works were selected for this exhibition, to illuminate these radical decades, extending the term “abstraction” to accommodate the divergent practices that have helped set the stage for the complex, pluralistic practices of contemporary art today. Featuring works by Gershon Iskowitz, Joseph Drapell, Barbara Astman, Jack Bush, Yves Gaucher, K.M. Graham, Joyce Wieland, Tim Zuck and more.

The Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King Street West, Hamilton
905.527.6610 or email


Saturday, April 23, 2016 (All day) to Sunday, March 19, 2017 (All day)
Art Gallery of Hamilton, 123 King St West, Hamilton, ON