John Wood and Paul Harrison, installation view from ‘I DIDN’T KNOW I DIDN’T KNOW IT’, Contemporary Art Gallery, February 12 – April 24, 2016. Photography by SITE Photography

Into the CAG Auction Archives: How It All Began

As someone who was born in the early 90’s and grew up as a teenager in the 2000’s, at times I forget what it was like before the age of the computer. While going through the Contemporary Art Gallery’s Auction archives dating back to 1989, it is fascinating to examine all the hand written documents, check lists and auction data transcribed on paper, instead of entered into Excel, Microsoft Word, or Raiser’s Edge.

It is amazing and a privilege to see how much the CAG and the Gala & Auction event has progressed over 25 years. I feel as if I am witnessing and contributing to its overall history and cultural significance – all the artists that have shaped the Vancouver arts scene, who have generously donated work to support a non-profit organization; an institution that strives to give back to the local, national, and international community, both arts and non-arts related.

It is intriguing to think of the initial Gala and Auction at Sophie’s Cosmic Café featuring works of artists who were both emerging and established at that time, and who have continued to significantly contribute to the art world in their own way. There were quite a few names that resurfaced over the 25 year span, as well as iconic names that represent historical transitions in the art world – such as artists of the 60s and 70s, like Mary Kelly and Nam June Paik who both donated work to the CAG’s Auction in 1993.

Nam June Paik was very influential in the art world during the 60s and is arguably considered the founder of video art. Paik and his wife Shigeko Kubota were involved in performance art during the Fluxus/Happening movement in the 60s – a key transition in the art world out of modernism into a postmodern mindset. Mary Kelly’s work is studied for its contribution to the Feminist dialogue that took form in the 70s – her piece, Post-Partum Document (1973-79), challenges the stereotype of pregnancy and what it means to be a mother.

Artists who donated work multiple times that are familiar in the Vancouver context are Landon Mackenzie, Jeff Wall, Ian Wallace, Marian Penner Bancroft, Ken Lum, and others.

The rich history located in the Contemporary Art Gallery’s Auction archives gives a precursor of what will be presented at the Gala & Auction this year, yet another chapter will unfold adding to the constantly evolving dialogue of the art world.

– Olivia de Fleuriot, Development Assistant