The 70’s in Ontario
The 70s in Ontario
November 1, 2013 – February 23, 2014
The 1970s were a time of radical change and rapid development across North America and around the world. Social, political, economic and cultural norms and expectations were being broken at every opportunity, and the developed world was quickly becoming a more modern place. Artists across Canada were deeply inspired by the things going on around them. Sometimes this inspiration was closer to an agitated activism, while at others times it was closer to a nationalistic pride. In both cases, the art that was made in Ontario in the 1970s can be seen like a mirror into that time, revolutionary in its own right, and highlighting the issues that were important to Canadians and visual artists at the time.
Painting was fighting against the maxim painting is dead, working to reinvigorate the practice and regain acceptance in the broader art world. The efforts of individuals at the grassroots level helped to shape a sense of Canadian national identity and place on the international stage. Activists worked to affect change on many fronts, including conscientious objectors and farming lobbyists. Feminism rose to battle for equality for women and changed the course of history forever. Text and language in art offered art to be read and thought about, instead of just being something to look at. Artists in Ontario were influenced by Conceptual Art in America and adapted the rules and strategies to fit the social climate of the time. Finally, artists are seen adopting new technologies and a regional eccentricity that located an unwavering ‘Canadian-ism’ in aesthetic and intent. Overall, the 1970s in Ontario can be seen like a stew of interdisciplinary, alternative practices that collectively represent the major political, economic, social, and cultural areas of interest of the time.