Catalogue


Black ice : David Blackwood : prints of Newfoundland /
Katharine Lochnan ; with Gary Michael Dault ... [et al.].
imprint
Vancouver : Douglas & McIntyre ; Toronto : Art Gallery of Ontario, c2011.
description
xi, 208 p. : ill. (some col.), col. maps ; 24 x 26 cm.
ISBN
9781553657798 (pbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
Subjects
More Details
imprint
Vancouver : Douglas & McIntyre ; Toronto : Art Gallery of Ontario, c2011.
isbn
9781553657798 (pbk.)
exhibitions note
Catalogue of an exhibition held at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Feb. 5-May 15, 2011.
local note
ROM copy: Gift of Arthur Smith; 2014.
catalogue key
7402936
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
Purchase; Coutts; 2011; RB298070.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
[spine]Black IceDavid Blackwood Prints of NewfoundlandLochnanDouglas & McIntyreArt Gallery of Ontario
First Chapter
From Black Ice: David Blackwood's Prints of Newfoundlandby Katharine LochlanBy 1959, when Blackwood entered OCA, his artistic imagination was all but fully formed. He knew that he wanted to work on Newfoundland subject matter but was obliged to follow the curriculum. He was taught to draw in the classical tradition: Eric Freifeld taught anatomy and life drawing, John Alfsen drawing from the nude model and Rowley Murphy drawing from the costumed figure. He was taught painting in a traditional manner by Carl Schaefer and in an abstract style by Jock (J.W.G.) Macdonald. Although Blackwood was well aware of what was happening in contemporary circles and admired Willem de Kooning, Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, the art that he wanted to create "had no relationship whatsoever" to what they were doing. There was only one place where he was allowed to do what he wanted at OCA - the printmaking studio. At that time, printmaking was focused almost exclusively on aesthetic issues. The most influential figure in the field of printmaking was Stanley William Hayter, who had founded Atelier 17 in Paris in 1927. Technical "cookery" had become its focus: as Blackwood put it, artists who worked there "played around with colour and lines, and so on." He considered a lot of the printmaking going on at that time largely "decorative," as the subject matter was considered of little or no importance. While technique is always "an underlying force," in Blackwood's work it never becomes an end in itself. It was in the printmaking studio in his second year at OCA (1960-61) that he discovered the ideal medium in which to explore his Newfoundland subjects: the intaglio processes of etching, drypoint and aquatint. He also wasted no time visiting the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario): "I arrived in Toronto the first week of September on a Wednesday. The following Saturday I took a Scarborough bus to the end of the line where it met the Dundas Street Car - which took me to the front door of the Gallery. On entering the main entrance a series of connecting galleries in the west wing showed the great painting (Tintoretto, just acquired) hanging on the western end wall of the gallery. It was my first encounter with what the magazines describe as a great masterpiece - bought by public subscription. There were numerous outstanding exhibitions, the Heritage de France, a Delacroix retrospective, a major Picasso painting show - and in my final year at OCA a major Picasso print exhibition." Blackwood spent many hours at the gallery during his years as a student at the OCA (1959-1963).At that time New York was seen as the centre of the art world, Canadian art was fighting for recognition at home and Newfoundland had not yet made it onto the artistic map of Canada. When I first met Blackwood in the late 1970s, I remember thinking how brave he was to fly in the face of contemporary taste, to be so persistently independent in his exclusive focus on Newfoundland subject matter, in his use of the etching medium and a representational style. Of all the media he could have chosen, etching was the most austere and, along with other printmaking techniques, had been consigned to the bottom of the imaginary hierarchy of artistic media. As for style and content, formalist abstraction, which focused primarily on line and colour, was in vogue and narrative subject matter was dismissed as commercial. Painfully aware that his work "was so unfashionable," Blackwood became inured to seeing it routinely dismissed and classified as "illustration" by art world pundits. Fortunately this did not deter private collectors. Ironically, in the mid-1990s, after "storytelling" became fashionable in contemporary artistic circles, his work was vindicated.One of the artists he most admired was the great 15th-century Italian fresco painter, Giotto. Blackwood was attracted by Giotto's storytelling ability, the clarity of his compositions and the simplicity of his forms. He developed a working method based on the one used by Giotto and his followers. Alexander Miller, a former student of the great Mexican muralists Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros, taught him composition at OCA. Miller showed the students how the muralists worked in the Italian tradition, developing a design for the whole composition, squaring it off by superimposing a grid, making outline drawings or "cartoons" for each square and transferring the cartoons to the wall so the final result could be executed section by section.David Blackwood works largely from memory, seeing the distance from his subject matter both in time and space as advantageous to the process of gestation, enabling him to focus his feelings, pare down his narrative and simplify his imagery. Once the idea takes shape, he draws his composition on a piece of paper, squares it off and works on one section at a time. For this reason the forms in his etchings, like those in Giotto's frescoes, appear locked together like pieces in a jigsaw puzzle. The figures are captured in deliberately simplified silhouettes: the men are frequently dressed in the heavy serge great coats that were scavenged from U.S. army battleships that ran aground during World War II. They came down to the feet of short Newfoundlanders. As Blackwood demonstrates in his etchings, these figures created "a very classic shape against the snow."While at OCA Blackwood decided to make prints based on the sealing mythology of Newfoundland, which he believes "might well be the only Canadian mythology existing outside our native cultures." The first etching, "The Lost Party," was made in 1961 and the following prints were called "The Lost Party Series." Exposed for long periods of time on the ice fields, sealers often became delirious and convinced that they saw strange things such as the spirits of family members and phantom ships. As Blackwood explained: "There's a local story here of people from this community. Down on Labrador, it was quite common to see whales encased. A whale would die from old age, and an iceberg would float down here with the carcass in it. But on one occasion, the people from this region must have encountered a mastodon encased in ice, because they had never seen anything like it. And they were very superstitious people. So everyone thought that they had seen the devil, and it was really some kind of great elephant. Of course, in the confusion it probably looked like an elephant, but it was covered in hair. They had never encountered anything like that. So that's a story, a folklore image that probably also crept into it."Inspired by a scene from the Newfoundland disaster of 1914, it portrayed a group of disoriented people who, lost in a storm, began arguing about which direction to take. In three etchings in the so-called Lost Party Series, Blackwood included the figure of a bull because "it is at this point in the series that the men most clearly begin to emerge with the monolithic grace and nomadic anonymity which makes it possible, in describing them, to say that they are Neanderthal man or Newfoundland man; something about them transcends time." In doing so he crosses cultures, referencing Neolithic cave painting, Minoan mythology and Picasso's "Minotaurmachia" etchings, which he had seen at the AGO in 1964. He was also very taken at that time by a Plains Indian buffalo hide painted with battle scenes at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. William S. Lieberman, Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, and the leading expert on 20th century prints, was the one-man adjudicator of a juried Canadian Biennial exhibition of works on paper that took place at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 1964. He selected one of these prints for inclusion, "The Search Party," reproduced it on the cover of the catalogue and recommended its purchase to the National Gallery of Canada. This became a source of controversy at OCA, since work by the instructors was not selected for exhibition. Blackwood recalls that "there were only about two staff people who were thrilled" by his success. It was Lieberman's vote of confidence that established his career and led to the first acquisitions of his work by Ontario museums, in London, Sarnia and Hamilton.Blackwood's work can be read on several levels. Individual narratives act as points of entry into the underlying themes of man's loneliness, mortality, vulnerability and fate. His works deal with the human condition and human relationships within this context, and his focus has always remained on the men themselves, never their prey. Although inspired by the great Newfoundland disaster, "The Lost Party" series is a metaphor for a mankind that has lost its way. The frozen, icy world that he depicts in these and later etchings is not only one of the most inhospitable on earth, it recalls the sea of ice in Dante's "Inferno," one of Blackwood's favourite pieces of literature. By incorporating imagery drawn from across millennia, from mythology, ancient human history, art history, photographic negatives and X-rays, he lends his work a timeless and universal character.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Sometimes a great artist appears just at the point of historical shift and catches the essence of a region and time. . . . The Newfoundland of boats and cod, of mummers and sealers, the brilliant flags, the hoarse voices of foghorns, ice aloof and jagged, the mug-ups and ktichen times, the coffin in the boat have become inseparable from the name of David Blackwood."Annie Proulx
"Behind Blackwood's primitive-looking prints is a deeply civilized attempt to capture the fading world of outport Newfoundland. This book, coinciding with the artist's 70th birthday, explores the sources of his art, and ranges from his home province's geology to its folk customs."
"Black Ice is a critically important text offering readers a much-needed appreciation of Blackwood's work and is one of the best books on a Canadian artist."
"Black Iceis a critically important text offering readers a much-needed appreciation of Blackwood's work and is one of the best books on a Canadian artist."
"Compiling traditions and superstition tied to the region that is unlike any other in Canada, the artwork seeks to capture the soul of Newfoundland in full color. Moving and exciting work drawn from galleries all over the world, Black Ice would do well in any cultural collection...as an excellent coffee table art book."
"Compiling traditions and superstition tied to the region that is unlike any other in Canada, the artwork seeks to capture the soul of Newfoundland in full color. Moving and exciting work drawn from galleries all over the world, Black Icewould do well in any cultural collection...as an excellent coffee table art book."
"Sometimes a great artist appears just at the point of historical shift and catches the essence of a region and time...The Newfoundland of boats and cod, of mummers and sealers, the brilliant flags, the hoarse voices of foghorns, ice aloof and jagged, the mug-ups and ktichen times, the coffin in the boat have become inseparable from the name of David Blackwood."
"The book offers not only something for art lovers, but historians also. David Blackwood 's work resonates with images and emotions, that would make even those who do not care for art, sit up and take notice. 5 Bookmarks (out of five)."
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Back Cover Copy
[back cover]"At the heart of David Blackwood's art is a sense of awe, in all meanings of the word. The sheer scope and the eerie beauty of the landscape he depicts inspire both wonder and dread in equal measure." Michael CrummeyA lush tribute to both an iconic Newfoundland artist and the vibrant culture his work depicts, Black Ice features more than 70 prints spanning 40 years of David Blackwood's work, accompanied by contextual essays about Newfoundland geology, history, folklore and literature.$40.00978-1-55365-779-8[barcode][bull logo] Douglas & McIntyre D&M Publishers Inc. Vancouver/Toronto/Berkeley www.douglas-mcintyre.com Art Gallery of Ontariowww.ago.netFront cover: David Blackwood, Fire Down on the Labrador (detail)Back cover: [tk]Cover design by Peter CockingPrinted and bound in Canada Printed on fsc-certified paperDistributed in the U.S. by Publishers Group West
Long Description
A lush tribute to both an iconic Newfoundland artist, and the vibrant culture his work depicts.Canadian artist David Blackwood has been telling stories about Newfoundland in the form of epic visual narratives for the past 30 years. His stories draw on childhood memories, dreams, superstitions, legends, the oral tradition and the political realities of the community on Bonavista Bay where he was born and raised. His collection of works has created an iconography of Newfoundland which is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events. The exhibition, Black Ice, features over 75 prints spanning 40 years of the artist's work. This exhibition will be accompanied by a publication edited by Dr. Katharine Lochnan, Deputy Director of Research and the R. Fraser Elliott Curator of Prints and Drawings. The book will feature essays by Blackwood and Lochnan, as well as scholars based in Canada and Ireland, including an essay on the environment by Dr. Martin Feely, Head of Earth Sciences at Galway University (in collaboration with Dr. Derek Wilton, Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University) and an article on mumming by Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain of Dublin. The AGO is currently planning an international tour for this exhibition.Author BiographyDr. Katharine Lochnan, Deputy Director of Research and the R. Fraser Elliott Curator of Prints and DrawingsDr. Martin Feely, Dept. of Earth and Ocean Sciences, National University of Ireland, GalwayDr. Derek Wilton, Dept. of Earth Sciences, Memorial University, NewfoundlandDr. Sean Cadigan, Dept. of History at Memorial University, NewfoundlandCaoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain, formerly Department of Folklore, Memorial UniversityMichael Crummey, novelist and poet. His books include River Thieves, The Wreckage and, most recently, Galore.Will also feature an interview with the artist
Main Description
A lush tribute to both an iconic Newfoundland artist and the vibrant culture his work depicts. Canadian artist David Blackwoodhas been telling stories about Newfoundland in the form of epic visual narratives for the past 30 years. His stories draw on childhood memories, dreams, superstitions, the oral tradition and the political realities of the community on Bonavista Bay, where he was born and raised. His collection of works has created an iconography of Newfoundland that is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events. Black Ice-- a comprehensive and sumptuously illustrated retrospective -- features over 70 prints spanning 40 years of the artist's work and features essays by Blackwood, Michael Crummey, Sean Cadigan and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Dr. Katharine Lochnan. It also features essays by scholars based in Canada and Ireland, including an essay on the environment by Dr. Martin Feely, Head of Earth Sciences at the National University of Ireland in Galway (in collaboration with Dr. Derek Wilton, Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University) and an article on mumming by Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain.
Main Description
A lush tribute to both an iconic Newfoundland artist and the vibrant culture his work depictsCanadian artist David Blackwood has been telling stories about Newfoundland in the form of epic visual narratives for the past 30 years. His stories draw on childhood memories, dreams, superstitions, the oral tradition and the political realities of the community on Bonavista Bay, where he was born and raised. His collection of works has created an iconography of Newfoundland that is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events.Black Ice-a comprehensive and sumptuously illustrated retrospective-features over 70 prints spanning 40 years of the artist's work and features essays by Blackwood, Michael Crummey, Sean Cadigan and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Dr. Katharine Lochnan. It also features essays by scholars based in Canada and Ireland, including an essay on the environment by Dr. Martin Feely, Head of Earth Sciences at the National University of Ireland in Galway (in collaboration with Dr. Derek Wilton, Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University) and an article on mumming by Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain.David Blackwood is one of Canada's most respected visual storytellers. His work has been exhibited nationally and internationally with over 90 solo shows and scores of group exhibitions. He has been the subject of two major retrospective exhibitions and the National Film Board's Academy- Award nominated documentary film "Blackwood." His work may be found in virtually every major public gallery and corporate art collection in Canada, as well as in major private and public collections around the world.
Main Description
A lush tribute to both an iconic Newfoundland artist and the vibrant culture his work depicts. Canadian artist David Blackwood has been telling stories about Newfoundland in the form of epic visual narratives for the past 30 years. His stories draw on childhood memories, dreams, superstitions, the oral tradition and the political realities of the community on Bonavista Bay, where he was born and raised. His collection of works has created an iconography of Newfoundland that is as universal as it is personal, as mythic as it is rooted in reality, and as timeless as it is linked to specific events. Black Ice -- a comprehensive and sumptuously illustrated retrospective -- features over 70 prints spanning 40 years of the artist's work and features essays by Blackwood, Michael Crummey, Sean Cadigan and the Art Gallery of Ontario's Dr. Katharine Lochnan. It also features essays by scholars based in Canada and Ireland, including an essay on the environment by Dr. Martin Feely, Head of Earth Sciences at the National University of Ireland in Galway (in collaboration with Dr. Derek Wilton, Department of Earth Sciences, Memorial University) and an article on mumming by Caoimhe Ni Shuilleabhain. This book was published in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario.

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