Our Exhibits

The Vancouver Art Gallery presents exhibitions of work by artists ranging from historic masters to leading-edge contemporaries. These include major thematic exhibitions, presentations of solo artists and smaller, more focused showcases. In a typical year, 2 to 3 exhibitions are borrowed from other institutions and 10 to 12 exhibitions are developed in-house, drawing on our permanent collection and loans of works from around the world. In addition, the Gallery tours a few of its exhibitions each year.

Public Art

Vancouver Art Gallery

1990 to present

The Vancouver Art Gallery is ideally situated in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Because of its central location, it is often chosen as a site for public rallies, celebratory events, street busking and casual public assembly. By way of acknowledging the significance of art in public life, the Vancouver Art Gallery is engaged in an ongoing program of commissioning public art for the Gallery building and grounds.

2001
Ken Lum

Ken Lum
Ken Lum
Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White, 2000
steel, fibreglass, paint, polyurethane
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery Major Purchase Fund, the Canada Millennium Partnership Program of the Millennium Bureau of Canada and the British Columbia 2000 Community Spirit Fund

Ken Lum

Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White, 2001

In the spring of 1999, as part of the millennium celebrations, the Gallery commissioned two new public artworks for the exterior and grounds. Four Boats Stranded: Red and Yellow, Black and White by the Vancouver artist Ken Lum is installed on the rooftop of the Gallery. The four boats are scaled-down versions of a First Nations longboat, Captain George Vancouver's three-masted sailing ship, the Komagata Maru (the ship carrying Indian immigrants that caused an international incident in 1914), and a cargo ship that recently carried migrants from China's Fujian Province to Vancouver. Lum has created a public artwork that serves as a cultural, geographical and historical marker. The work recognizes Vancouver as a port city, a place of arrival by sea, and a city of layered histories. Each elegantly simplified boat is painted a single colour that speaks to a colonialist stereotyping of cultural, racial and historical identification.

Kim Adams

Kim Adams
Kim Adams
Squid Head, 2001
fibreglass, coated glass, textile
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Vancouver Art Gallery Major Purchase Fund, the Canada Millennium Partnership Program of the Millennium Bureau of Canada and the British Columbia 2000 Community Spirit Fund

Kim Adams

Squid Head, 2001

The second millennium commission went to Kim Adams, a Toronto-based artist widely known for his provocatively humorous public sculptures. His Squid Head (2001) is a movable sculpture made specifically for the public spaces that surround the Vancouver Art Gallery. Adams engineered the sculpture with common vehicle parts, using only the rear ends of vans (delivery and mini varieties) to create an impossibly seamless marriage of components. The work’s combination of elements results in a whimsical and carnivalesque vehicle that embodies a sense of mischief. Squid Head, which is at once animal, commerce and entertainment, represents an intersection of leisure and industry and so calls attention to the multiple functions of the space it inhabits.

1990
Lawrence Weiner

Lawrence Weiner
Lawrence Weiner
PLACED UPON THE HORIZON (CASTING SHADOWS), 1990
yellow cedar
Collection of the Vancouver Art Gallery, Acquisition Fund

Lawrence Weiner

Placed Upon the Horizon (Casting Shadows), 1990

In 1989 the Vancouver Art Gallery commissioned its first public artwork from the American artist Lawrence Weiner. One of the founding fathers of Conceptual Art, Weiner is highly regarded for his language-based artworks that range from textual instructions to poetic statements of fact. Weiner's Placed Upon the Horizon (Casting Shadows) consists of golden letters carved in yellow cedar installed on the frieze of the Gallery’s Robson Street portico. The letters mimic the gilded letters that adorn the facades of state buildings (recalling the building’s history as a former courthouse) but in a material with deep cultural and historical significance for this region. In the context of civic Vancouver and the bustle of Robson Street, the work interrupts the functional city, inserting a quiet, poetic text that calls attention to natural rhythms of time and environment that we often forget in the contemporary urban setting.