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Vancouver’s Liz Magor wins the 2014 Gershon Iskowitz Prize

TORONTO (June 3, 2014) — The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation in partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is pleased to announce that Vancouver-based artist Liz Magor is the recipient of the 2014 GERSHON ISKOWITZ PRIZE AT THE AGO. The award, which is presented annually to an artist who has made an outstanding contribution to the visual arts in Canada, includes a $50,000 cash prize and a solo exhibition at the AGO in the following year.

Magor's work has followed a determined trajectory since the 1970s, exploring such themes as memory, history, shelter and survival. Investigating both natural and domestic spheres, Magor's sculptural works evoke forms of refuge, hoarding and hiding, confounding the boundary between reality and simulation through the painstaking deployment of various casting techniques. Magor's photographs also express the artist's fascination with the figure of the outsider or fugitive in the landscape, documenting as well the culture of historical re-enactors who seek to place themselves outside the conventional parameters of mainstream contemporary urban life. Taken as a whole, Magor's work can be read as a fascinating next chapter in the history of Canadian art, examining aspects of our occupation of the land and our very human search for shelter and solace, through a distinctly contemporary lens.

Based in Vancouver, Magor has influenced the now-emerging generation of Canadian artists, both through the example of her artistic practice and through her role as associate professor of visual arts at Vancouver's Emily Carr University of Art + Design. When she learned she was to receive the Prize, Magor commented “that the benefactor of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize was an artist is what makes this honour particularly significant to me. Its impetus comes from a real understanding that the possibility of lack of support is an unavoidable risk for expressing a point of view that may not be popular or profitable. That we maintain some social functions free of pure economic concern is fundamental to the generosity of this award.”

Jurors for the 2014 prize included curator Peggy Gale and artist Geoffrey James, who are both trustees of the Iskowitz Foundation, and Toronto artist Max Dean. Dean describes Magor’s work as “uncanny; she brings us a truly unique view of the world and continues to challenge us at every turn.”

“We’re delighted to collaborate with the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation in presenting this prize to Liz Magor,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “Her work blurs the boundaries between photography, installation and sculpture, and in turn invites viewers to reconsider the boundaries between their own memories and observations. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to bring her work to Toronto.”

More details about Magor’s AGO exhibition in 2015 will be announced as they become available.

The 2013 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO was awarded to Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer. His automated sculpture Every day needs an urgent whistle blown into it will debut at the AGO on July 5, 2014.

Liz Magor (b. 1948 in Winnipeg) lives and works in Vancouver. Forthcoming exhibitions include A Thousand Quarrels at Presentation House Gallery in Vancouver, focusing on Magor’s longstanding preoccupation with shelters, retreat and wilderness refuge; You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me at Oakville Galleries; and a major survey exhibition at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal in 2016.

Important solo exhibitions include No Fear, No Shame, No Confusion, Triangle Gallery, Marseille, France (2013), The Power Plant, Toronto (2003); Vancouver Art Gallery (2002, the Art Gallery of Ontario (1986) and exhibitions at Susan Hobbs Gallery, Toronto and Catriona Jeffries, Vancouver. Recent group exhibitions include Pacific Triennial, Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2013); Light my Fire: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2013); ZOO, Musée d'art contemporain, Montréal; After Presence, MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2012); The Mouth and other storage facilities, Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (touring) 2008, Histoires des Amériques, Musée d’art contemporain, Montréal; Baja to Vancouver, Wattis Insitute, San Francisco; Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2004); Elusive Paradise: the Millenium Prize, National Gallery of Canada (2001), Aurora Borealis, Centre international d’art contemporain, Montréal (1985).

Liz Magor is represented by the Susan Hobbs Gallery in Toronto and Catriona Jeffries in Vancouver.

The Gershon Iskowitz Foundation is a private charitable foundation established in 1986 through the generosity of painter Gershon Iskowitz (1921 – 1988). Iskowitz recognized the importance of grants in the development of artists in Canada, in particular acknowledging that a grant from the Canada Council in 1987 gave him the freedom to create his distinctive style. Iskowitz’s works are in public and private collections across Canada and abroad. The Foundation’s principal activity is the designation of the Prize which is unique in that one can neither apply nor be nominated. A second distinct characteristic which many of the recipients have commented on is that the Prize is an excellent example of an artist supporting other artists. Iskowitz himself was actively involved in designating the Prize in its first years; after his death this responsibility passed to juries composed of trustees of the Foundation and invited artists and curators. The achievements of the first 20 years of the Foundation and the Prize are detailed in The Gershon Iskowitz Prize 1986 – 2006.

At the 20-year mark of the Prize, the Foundation formed a collaborative partnership with the Art Gallery of Ontario to raise awareness of the importance of the Prize and through it the visual arts in Canada. The AGO is home to Iskowitz’s archives, which include early works on paper, sketchbooks and memorabilia, and it holds 29 paintings by Iskowitz spanning 1948 to 1987 in its collection. Beginning in 2006, the Prize has included a solo exhibition of the winner’s work at the Gallery. Among the 28 previous recipients of the Prize are Vera Frenkel, Betty Goodwin, General Idea, Stan Douglas, John Massey, Irene F. Whittome, Françoise Sullivan, Shary Boyle, Brian Jungen, Michael Snow and Kim Adams.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO, to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.


For press inquiries, please contact:

Nancy Hushion, Executive Director, Gershon Iskowitz Foundation

Caitlin Coull; Manager, AGO Communications

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications

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