Great art can be found in surprising places. Remai Modern in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan proves that.
Almost 1700 miles west of Toronto and nearly 1000 miles east of Vancouver, Remai Modern opened in October 2017 with the goal of bringing the global art world to the Canadian plains. Its exhibition of “The Sonnabend Collection” through March 22 does so.
With more than 100 pieces by 68 artists, including iconic works from Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg, “The Sonnabend Collection” represents the largest showing of international modern and contemporary art ever in Saskatchewan.
“Remai Modern was purpose-built with exhibitions like ‘The Sonnabend Collection’ in mind–we are the first art museum in Saskatchewan with the capacity to deliver exhibitions of this scope and historical importance,” Rose Bouthillier, curator of exhibitions at Remai Modern said. “As much as you can read or learn about these moments in art history, encountering the work in person opens up so much more through direct experience.”
Developed through the vision of influential art dealer Ileana Sonnabend (1914-2007), her husband Michael Sonnabend (1900-2001) (she was previously married to famed dealer Leo Castelli from 1933-1959), and their adopted son Antonio Homem, the collection is among the most significant private holdings of modern and contemporary art in the world. This marks the Collection’s first exposure in Canada and its most comprehensive presentation to date in North America.
Ileana Sonnabend proves that the most important players in the art world aren’t always artists. Through their galleries in Paris and New York, the Sonnabends fostered creative exchanges and new audiences on two continents.
“She introduced American artists to Europe and vice versa at a time when the art world was much less internationally connected,” Bouthillier said.
She took the work of Warhol and Lichtenstein, among others, to Europe during the 1960s. In the 1970s, she turned Americans on to the likes of Georg Baselitz.
Where can you see this work now?
While New York was, and remains, the unquestioned capital of the art world, art lovers today needn’t visit the Big Apple to experience the world’s greatest art in person.
“The art world is becoming increasingly de-centralized and the potential of museums like Remai Modern is to join a global conversation from our unique perspective,” Bouthillier said.
Remain Modern represents one of many museums with world-class holdings in Modern art found in locations not traditionally associated as hotbeds of the genre.
Technically speaking, Modern Art refers to the period bracketed by the rise of Impressionism in the 1860s through Pop Art ending about 1970. While the terms “modern” and “contemporary” when referring to art are often used interchangeably, “contemporary” specifically defines work from the 70s through present day. Julie Mehretu is a contemporary artist. Picasso is a modern artist.
Here’s proof you don’t have to visit New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco to enjoy great Modern Art.
The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, Warhol’s birthplace, holds the largest collection of his artworks and archival materials.
The Andy Warhol Museum may be larger, due to his gargantuan output, but the Clyfford Still Museum, opened in 2011 in Denver, hosts the world’s most intact public collection of any major artist. The Abstract Expressionist thought the best way to experience his art was by seeing it all in one place and his will stipulated that his estate be given in its entirety to an American city willing to establish a permanent museum dedicated solely to his work.
Another single-artists institution, The Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida, includes over 2,400 works from every moment and in every medium of Salvador Dalí’s career, including oil paintings, original drawings, book illustrations, prints, sculpture and photos.
Did you know the Baltimore Museum of Art holds over 1,000 works by Henri Matisse, the largest holding of his art in the world? This material is joined by masterpieces from Picasso, Cézanne, and van Gogh.
While on the subject of van Gogh, one of his most recognizable paintings, “Night Café,” can be seen in New Haven, Connecticut. In addition to the iconic van Gogh, the Yale University Art Gallery’s prodigious holdings include as a particular strength artwork from 1920 to 1940.
Collected and donated by the Société Anonyme, an artists’ organization founded by Katherine S. Dreier and Marcel Duchamp with Man Ray, this remarkable collection comprises a rich array of paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures by major 20th century artists including Duchamp, Constantin Brancusi, El Lissitzky and Piet Mondrian.
The Johnson Collection in Spartanburg, South Carolina holds 1,200 objects chronicling the cultural evolution of the American South with especially meaningful examples created by women and African-Americans.
Few institutions anywhere top the Detroit Institute of Art in the arena of Modern Art created by black artists. In 2000, the DIA established the General Motors Center for African-American Art, the first curatorial department at an encyclopedic museum dedicated to the collecting and scholarship of African-American art. DIA also boasts Mexican artist Diego Rivera’s Detroit Industry fresco cycle, which Rivera considered his most successful work, and a van Gogh self-portrait which was the first painting of his to enter a U.S. museum collection.
The McNay Art Museum in San Antonio owns van Gogh and Rivera as well. Inside the walls of this stunning Spanish Colonial-Revival house, which has the distinction of being the first Modern Art museum in Texas, can be found Monet, Modigliani, Maurice de Vlaminck, Edward Hopper, O’Keeffe, the smallest Pollock you’ve likely ever seen and one of the earliest Picasso paintings on public view in the U.S.
The Bechtler Museum of Modern Art in Charlotte, North Carolina has as its calling card European Modernism rarely seen in America. The collection includes works by the most important artists of the mid-20th century including Joan Miró, Alberto Giacometti, Picasso, Alexander Calder, Jean Tinguely, Max Ernst and Le Corbusier.
The Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum in St. Louis displays essential paintings from Picasso, Ernst, Marsden Hartley, Willem de Kooning, Pollock, Max Beckmann and Robert Rauschenberg.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas–founded by Walmart heiress Alice Walton and opened in 2005–merits a mention if for no other reason than its acquisition in 2014 of O’Keeffe’s Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1 for $44 million. The purchase remains a record price for a female artist.