Douglas & McIntyre
Joe Fafard

Book details:

September 2007
ISBN 978-1-55365-221-2
9" x 10"
232 pages
Art ART000000
$55.00 CAD


Douglas & McIntyre

Joe Fafard

When art making in Canada began to take a radical new direction, Joe Fafard was at the forefront, exploring new media and new imagery. His trademark ceramic cows and bulls have become iconic, and his three-dimensional portraits crackle with insi

The life and engaging, witty art of a Canadian sculptor whose unforgettable works in bronze and clay have catapulted him to international acclaim.

Born in 1942, in the hamlet of Ste Marthe, Saskatchewan, Joe Fafard moved from the small farming community and its limited art education to Winnipeg's School of Art, where he earned a BFA, to the University of Pennsylvania, where he graduated in 1967 with an MFA in sculpture. On his return to Saskatchewan, he took up a teaching position in the Regina College of Art and quickly emerged as one of most innovative ceramic sculptors and teachers in Canada. Within five years his works were being shown in major galleries, and collectors began seeking out his art for purchase. His classes, where he organized his teaching so that students learned not only art making but the hands-on, day-to-day processes of marketing and commissioning art, were sought out by students from across the country.

The late sixties and early seventies in Canada was a time when art making began to take a radical new direction from the modernist aesthetic of the early sixties, and Fafard was at the forefront, exploring new media and new imagery. His trademark ceramic cows and bulls have become iconic, but his three-dimensional portraits better show his profound visual understanding of form in space and his penetrating insights into human personality and life experiences. Among the most symbolic of these are the curé of his childhood memories, sitting alone on a love seat/couch, his breviary by his side; Pierre Elliott Trudeau, contemplating the large visions that marked his political career; Cree Man, kneeling naked and bowed, but still proud and physically magnificent; and Fafard's own father sitting on the edge of his chair, engaged in a passionate discussion.

Just as the Canadian art world had widely recognized him as one of the country's foremost ceramic sculptors, Fafard began a series of experiments into new media, scale and illusion in 3D works which eventually led him to laser-steel and bronze works. With these materials, he was able to realize much more ambitious pieces and, with the Toronto First Canadian Place commission of 1985, he began a major series of large commissioned works for both public and private installations. The monumentality and sculptural presence of these works was nowhere better shown than in the 1993 exhibition Joe Fafard: The Bronze Years, organized by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. There, among a hundred or so works, the seven larger-than-life cows from the Toronto commission were shown in their own gallery. Removed from the city setting, they asserted themselves as powerful sculptural objects in their own space and their own right.

Now, at the peak of his career, Fafard works as hard as ever in large studios that he has had constructed north of Regina on seventy acres of his beloved prairie land. He is internationally and nationally recognized for his skill, talent, commitment to the arts in Canada and his profound humanity. Over the past forty years, Fafard has received many awards and recognitions, including visiting lectureships at universities, art centres and schools, the Order of Canada (1981), an honorary doctorate at the University of Regina (1989) and service on many policy committees and juries at both the provincial and national levels. The pending retrospective of his work, which is being organized by the Mackenzie Art Gallery in Regina and the National Gallery of Canada, clearly indicates the significance of his work and the esteem in which he is held.

Show dates:

MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina) 29 September 2007 to 6 January 2008

National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa) 1 February to 4 May 2008

McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, ON) 27 June to 14 September 2008

Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax) 21 November 2008 to 8 February 2009

The Glenbow Museum (Calgary) 13 March to 31 May 2009

Winnipeg Art Gallery (Winnipeg) 25 June to 13 September 2009

Terrence Heath was Director of the Winnipeg Art Gallery from 1983 through 1985 and Executive Director of the Western Development Museum from 1977 through 1980. Now a freelance curator and lecturer, he is also the award-winning author of numerous fiction and non-fiction books, including the truth and other stories, Journey/Journée (with Anne Szumigalski), Uprooted: The Life and Art of Ernest Lindner and, most recently, Casualties (Coteau Books). He lives in Toronto, Ontario.

About the Author

Terrence Heath

Terrence Heath is one of Canada’s most distinguished curators and art historians. He is also the award-winning author of numerous fiction and non-fiction ...

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News & Events for Joe Fafard

  • Joe Fafard hits the road with a major travelling retrospective of his work Read more >>