Audain Museum

From Pop Art Prints to Ancestral Modern

Audain Art Museum Special Exhibitions Showcase Contemporary and Historical Perspectives

COVER, 2011
Screenprint - 91.4 CM X 132.1 CM each (36 X 52 IN.)
Four single edition in Red, Yellow, Blue and Black. - Courtesy of the artist.

LOVE, 1967
The Figure 5, from the portfolio Decade, 1971
© 2018 Morgan Art Foundation Ltd / Artists Rights Society (ARS), NY

This summer the Audain Art Museum presents Pop Art Prints, a special exhibition featuring the bold images and pure fun of the Pop art movement, June 30 to Sept. 17. The exhibition will showcase 37 works from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington, D.C. by some of the leading artists who defined Pop art, from Jim Dine to James Rosenquist and most famously, Andy Warhol.

The artworks are instantly recognizable in their depictions of universally identifiable mass consumer items and popular icons, such as Campbell’s soup cans and Marilyn Monroe. “When the Pop art movement was really developing, primarily out of New York, the intent was to make art accessible to the masses,” says Darrin Martens, the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky chief curator of the Audain, “and the opportunity particularly that Andy Warhol found with the silk screening process was that he could mass produce work that could be easily disseminated to everyone.”

In the 1950s and ’60s the Pop art movement challenged the paradigm of the art world, specifically the emotional intensity of abstract expressionism. Pop art celebrated commonplace and commercial objects, straying far from previously hailed “high art” themes of classical history, mythology and morality.

In addition to the primary exhibition, the Audain curatorial team is collecting works that reveal Pop art’s influence on Canadian and Indigenous artists, from the 1970s to present day.

Shawn Hunt
acrylic on canvas
228.6 cm x 152.4 cm x 10.2 cm (90 x 60 x 4 IN.)
Courtesy of Michael and Inna O’Brian - Image courtesy of the artist

“Canada Goes POP! complements the American works in the Smithsonian collection,” says Dr. Curtis Collins, director and chief curator of the Audain Art Museum, “featuring some of this country’s most significant contemporary artists.“

“Taking cues from the central tenets of Pop art,” Collins adds, “these artists have harnessed the movement’s direct language in a subversive way, often as a 21st century social critique.” Among the Canadian artists represented are Paul Wong, Sonny Assu, General Idea, N.E. Thing & Co. and Shawn Hunt.

Accompanying the American and Canadian works is the museum’s first-ever immersive space. “Encouraging our visitors to engage with art in new and stimulating ways is a mandate of the Audain Art Museum,” Collins says. “For this particular exhibition, we have taken inspiration from Warhol’s concept of 15 minutes of fame. Visitors step into a space surrounded by Pop images, become fully engrossed in an altered environment and snap a selfie to curate their own moment of fame on social media.”

From Oct. 6, 2018 to Jan. 7, 2019, the Audain Art Museum hosts a special exhibition Ancestral Modern: Australian Aboriginal Art from the Kaplan & Levi Collection, organized by the American Federation of Arts. The exhibition presents spectacular works of contemporary art by Indigenous Australian and Torres Strait Islands artists. Ground-breaking, featured artists Rover Thomas and Emily Kam Kngwarray adapted traditional Aboriginal styles and materials used in body painting and ground painting to the canvas.

Part of the Audain’s mandate is to bring art from around the world to Whistler to expose visitors and members to different art forms and techniques. “There are a lot of these different paintings that are done on bark and working with natural pigments and there is a heavy emphasis on design and pattern which we don’t always see in contemporary Indigenous West Coast art,” Martens notes.

Sonny Assu
Breakfast Series, 2006
Digital Prints, Foam-core
12 x 7 x 3 IN. each - Edition of 8
Photo Credit: Chris Meier. Image courtesy of the Artist and the Equinox Gallery
Edition 2/8, Private collection

“I think that what our viewers will really appreciate is the fact that they are very much different visual conceptions of the land and animals that are specific to Australia,” says Dr. Curtis Collins, incoming director and curator of the Audain.

The Western tradition of depicting landscapes uses techniques of horizon lines and three-dimensional perspectives is very different from the representations of the vast desert landscapes of Australia. Kngwarray’s work displays images of interconnecting layers of lines and dots that depict the landscape with a spiritual eye. 

Visitors are encouraged to explore the art museum’s permanent collection, which includes artworks of coastal British Columbia spanning pre-European contact to the contemporary, with more than 24 Emily Carr paintings, and artworks from 12 different First Nations groups, from the Lower Mainland to Alaska.

Dundiwuy Wanambi
Wuyal with Dhulaku the Euro, 1991
Natural pigments on wood
64 9/16 x 9 1/16 x 7 3/16 in.
Promised gift of Margaret Levi and Robert Kaplan to the Seattle Art Museum
© Dundiwuy Wanambi
Courtesy American Federation of Arts

“I think it’ll be an interesting juxtaposition to have the Aboriginal art from Australia in the same building as the First Nations art, both historical and contemporary, from B.C. and the West Coast,” says Justine Nichol, marketing and communications manager.

Ancestral Modern has been on tour throughout the United States for several years, and the Audain Art Museum will be the only Canadian venue for the exhibition before it returns to the Seattle Art Museum, where it permanently resides.

For more information on the Audain Art Museum, special exhibitions and events, visit

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