Michael Snow Canadian Sculptor And Experimental Filmmaker Dies Aged 94

Michael Snow Photo Erella Ganon ©

Michael Snow, Canadian artist who worked in various media, including film, installation, sculpture, photography, and music, has died aged 94. 

Born in Toronto, he studied at Upper Canada College and the Ontario College of Art. He had his first solo exhibition in 1957. In the early 1960s, Snow moved to New York with his wife, artist Joyce Wieland, where they remained for nearly a decade. His best-known films are Wavelength (1967) and La Région Centrale (1971), with the former regarded as a milestone in avant-garde cinema.

Michael Snow Photo Erella Ganon ©
Michael Snow Photo © Erella Ganon

Snow is considered one of the most influential experimental filmmakers of all time. Annette Michelson, in writing about Snow, his 1967  film Wavelength, and his films in general, speaks of the impact of Snow’s films, placing viewers in a “position to more fully understand the particular impact of Snow’s filmic work from 1967 on, to discern the reasons for the large consensus given” to Wavelength when it was honoured with the Grand Prize at the 1967 Experimental Film Festival EXPRMNTL 4 in Knokke, Belgium, and that “Wavelength, [appears] as a celebration of the ‘apparatus’ and a confirmation of the status of the subject, and it is in those terms that we may begin to comprehend the profound effect it had upon the broadest spectrum of viewers.

Snow always considered himself a sculptor. “A pure sculptor,” he explained, “an artist who makes objects.” He makes things to look through, look around, look along, look at, up, down and behind, to look at yourself looking at things. By making vision the subject of the object, the looking activates the object. Looking that sometimes require touch, sometimes invites sitting and sometimes necessitates caution.

His gallery Jack Shainman wrote, “Michael Snow’s extensive and multidisciplinary oeuvre included painting, sculpture, video, film, sound, photography, holography, drawing, writing, and music. His work explored the nature of perception, consciousness, language, and temporality. In addition, Snow was one of the world’s leading experimental filmmakers, inspiring the Structural Film movement with his groundbreaking film, Wavelength (1967).

Snow was born in 1928 in Toronto, where he lived worked. He received honorary degrees from the University of Toronto (1999), the University of Victoria (1997), the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (1990), and Brock University (1975).

Snow received several prestigious awards, including the Gershon Iskowitz Prize (2011), the Guggenheim Fellowship (1972), the Order of Canada (1982), and the Chevalier de l’ordre des arts et des lettres, France (1995, 2011). In addition, there has been a great deal of scholarship focusing on Snow, including the multi-volume Michael Snow Project published in 1994 by the Power Plant and the Art Gallery of Ontario, both in Toronto, to accompany four simultaneous exhibitions at the two venues that same year.

Recent solo exhibitions included Sequences at La Virreina Image Centre in Barcelona, Spain (2015), Michael Snow: Photo-Centric at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (2014), Michael Snow: Objects of Vision, Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada (2012), Solo Snow: Works of Michael Snow, Akbank Sanat, Turkey (2012), Michael Snow, Vienna Secession, Austria (2012), In the Way, Àngels Barcelona, Barcelona (2011), and Solo Snow, Le Fresnoy, France (2011).

Snow’s work was included in countless group exhibitions, most recently including the Canadian Biennial (2012), Video sphere: A New Generation at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, NY (2012), 1969 at MoMA PS1, NY (2009), and the Whitney Biennial, NY (2006), as well as exhibitions held for the reopening of both the Centre Pompidou, Paris (2000) and the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2005), the latter at which three works are currently installed. In addition, Snow’s work is in various private and public collections throughout the world, such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Ludwig Museum, Austria and Germany; the Musée National d’Art Modern, Centre Pompidou, France; the Musée des Beaux-Arts, Canada; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada; and the National Gallery of Canada.

Jack Shainman Gallery represented Snow since 2004. Solo exhibitions held at the gallery include Michael Snow: A Group Show (2015), Michael Snow: In the Way (2012), and Michael Snow: Powers of Two (2004). Snow was also included in several group exhibitions at the gallery, including Works on View (2009), Imposition (2005), and A Charge to Keep (2004).”

Photos: © Erella Ganon
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