WOMEN TAKE THE GALLERY
The Gallery’s first female director, Jean Sutherland Boggs, turns heads with the purchase of Andy Warhol’s Brillo and the formal recognition of photography as collectible art. In 1969, Joyce Weiland’s True Patriot Love marks the first solo exhibition by a living female Canadian artist.
Charles Comfort (1900–1994)
Charles Comfort, a war artist who executed a masterful scene of the landing at Dieppe, was also a Canadian pioneer of abstract landscapes, and a great mural artist. As the Gallery’s Director from 1960 to 1965, he mounted ground-breaking exhibitions such as The Controversial Century 1850-1950.
The first publication of the National Gallery Bulletin is issued.
On 17 February, some 3,000 guests attend the official opening of the Gallery’s new building and its inaugural exhibition, Masterpieces of European Painting, 1490-1840. The show features 36 outstanding paintings, many of which have never before left Europe, on loan from some of the greatest museums in Europe and the United States.
William S.A. Dale becomes the acting Director of the National Gallery of Canada. Born in Toronto, Dale received a doctorate degree from Harvard University and is considered an authority on the history of art. A former staff member and research curator at the Gallery, Dale also served as Director at the Vancouver Art Gallery, and as curator at the Art Gallery of Toronto.
On 1 June, Dr. Jean Sutherland Boggs becomes the first female Director of the Gallery. She is described by the Ottawa Citizen as “the best-looking director the National Gallery has ever had. But in addition to her charm, she is an outstanding scholar and efficient administrator.”
Aside from being the first woman to head the Gallery, she is also the first Director to hold a doctorate degree in Fine Arts. Boggs will compile the Gallery’s history as it relates to its collection in The National Gallery of Canada, which will be published in 1971.
Recognizing the need to intensify and develop the collections, Boggs expands and reorganizes the curatorial staff is into specialized areas. She also institutes special curatorial research positions for Canadian and European arts.
Dr. Boggs lifts the ban on the acquisition of contemporary American art. Andy Warhol’s Brillo is among the first works purchased.
As Boggs formally recognizes photographs as collectible objects that are works of art, the Gallery begins collecting 19th- and 20th-century photographs to establish a permanent collection of photography.
In celebration of Canada’s centenary, the National Gallery of Canada presents an unprecedented number of exhibitions throughout the year to honour Canada’s diverse visual heritage as well as important art developments on the international scene.
Among the highlights are:
Greg Curnoe designs a birthday cake for the opening, with decorative orange and blue icing flavoured with back bacon and maple sugar.
A Decade of Eskimo Prints and Recent Sculpture from Cape Dorset presents selected works from the collection, in the care of the Department of Northern Affairs and presented by the Gallery in Cupertino with the Canadian Eskimo Art Committee.
To commemorate the Millennium of Poland, the Gallery presents Treasures From Poland. This wonderful exhibition includes major art treasures from the country’s foremost national collections – jewelled swords, costumes, royal uniforms, regalia, decorative sculptures, rare tapestries, and master paintings – representing Polish art and culture from the 11th to the 19th centuries.
The largest and most inclusive exhibition of Canadian art ever assembled, Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art consists of some 350 works of painting, sculpture, graphic and decorative arts, spanning the period from the 17th century to the present, drawn from many collections, including that of the Gallery.
A Pageant of Canada: The European Contribution to the Iconography of Canada is a major exhibition of more than 200 paintings, drawings, watercolours, and art objects related to the history of Canada, from its ‘discovery’ and colonisation to the Victorian era of 1867.
The National Museums Act of Canada is passed, incorporating the Gallery as one of the four national museums in Canada. Under the Act, the National Gallery of Canada is committed “to demonstrate […] the works of man with special but not exclusive reference to Canada, so as to promote interest therein throughout Canada and to disseminate knowledge thereof.”
The Act streamlines the administration of the four national museums – Civilization, Science and Technology, Nature and the National Gallery of Canada – by placing them under a single Board of Trustees, therefore eliminating the Gallery’s own Board. Jean Ostiguy becomes the first chairman of the National Museums of Canada Corporation.
An advisory committee for the Gallery is set up and entrusted with certain purchasing powers by the National Museums of Canada Corporation; the first chairman is J.R. Longstaffe.