Michael Snow, Canadian artist who ‘knew no boundaries,’ dies at 94 | CBC News

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Michael Snow, a legendary Canadian artist who graced Toronto with two famous pieces of public art, has died. He was 94.

Snow, born in Toronto in 1928, died on Thursday, according to Tamsen Greene, senior director of New York’s Jack Shainman Gallery, which represented him. Snow studied at the Ontario College of Art, now called Ontario College of Art and Design University.

The Art Gallery of Ontario said Snow was “known internationally as a painter, sculptor, filmmaker, musician and author.”

The art world is mourning his death. Tributes to his work are being posted on Twitter. Snow is being remembered for groundbreaking work.

In Toronto, Snow is known for Flight Stop, a collection of life-sized Canadian geese in flight at the Eaton Centre, and The Audience, two massive, gold-painted sculptures at the Rogers Centre depicting sports fans in celebration.

The Audience, an art installation by renowned Canadian artist Michael Snow, is pictured at the Rogers Centre on Jan. 6, 2023. Snow died on Jan. 5. He was 94. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

OCAD University said that Snow “knew no boundaries.”

“His work explored a wide range of media including iconic and groundbreaking film, installation, sculpture, photography, and music. OCAD University mourns his passing,” the school said in the tweet on Friday.

Sarah Milroy, chief curator at the McMichael Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ont., north of Toronto, described Snow as a “one of the leading lions” in Canadian art.

“All of us at the McMichael celebrate his myriad accomplishments across the media of painting, sculpture, film, photography and experimental music,” Milroy said in a tweet on Friday.

National Gallery calls Snow a ‘giant in the art world’

In a statement on Friday, the National Gallery of Canada said it was “deeply saddened” by his death. It called him a “giant in the art world” in Canada and around the world.

“His innovative, versatile artworks radiate beyond our borders, and made him a formidable ambassador,” the statement reads. 

“Snow’s influence spans multiple generations; his legacy one of transforming in unprecedented ways the relationship between the artwork and the viewer. His creative experiments challenged perceptions and ultimately changed how we might understand art, the world and one other.”

Artist Michael Snow was the first Canadian with a solo show at the Canadian pavilion at the Venice Biennale in 1970. (Telescope/CBC Archives)

According to the website of the Jack Shainman Gallery, Snow’s work explored “the nature of perception, consciousness, language, and temporality.”

It said Snow was “one of the world’s leading experimental filmmakers” because of his film Wavelength, which was released in 1967. Noted for its 45-minute camera zoom, it is regarded as groundbreaking experimental cinema.

In 1970, Snow was featured in a solo exhibition at the Venice Biennale.

A biography on the Art Canada Institute website describes Snow as a self-taught musician who played piano in jazz bands. In 1974, he was a part of the Canadian Creative Music Collective, an improvisation group that founded Toronto’s Music Gallery.

He was awarded the Order of Canada in 1981 and upgraded to a Companion of the Order of Canada in 2007.

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