Art Gallery of Alberta

The Looking Glass
March 11, 2017-May 28, 2017


image credits [click to view]


Joe Fafard

Harvey McInnes, 1977
Ceramic and acrylic glaze, 52.0 x 19.0 x 40.5 cm
Art Gallery of Alberta Collection, purchased in 1977 with funds donated by the Canada Council and Canada Packers Foundation



If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of a person is like a thorough introduction. Featuring paintings, photographs and sculpture by artists since the 19th century such as Walker Evans, Joe Fafard, Kathe Kollwitz, Diego Rivera and Andy Warhol, these works from the AGA Collection explore multifaceted reflections of artists and sitters in states of stature, vulnerability, activity and honesty.

Curator’s statement

“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.” – Oscar Wilde, author and playwright

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a picture of a person is like a thorough introduction. A detailed description by definition, a portrait conveys a lot about its sitter: their character, stature, pursuits and emotions. Through a representation, we come to know the featured face intimately. Similarly, a portrait says something of its maker, showing the perspectives and insights of the artist who captures the subject’s likeness or interprets their character.

Considering each portrait to be, in a way, a portrait of the artist, each functioned at some point as a mirror—a looking glass in which the artist reflects him or herself. The Looking Glass as an exhibition explores these multifaceted reflections of artists and sitters in states of stature, vulnerability, activity and honesty. Featuring paintings, photographs and sculpture by artists since the 19th century such as Walker Evans, Joe Fafard, Kathe Kollwitz, Diego Rivera and Andy Warhol, some of the works record, commemorate or memorialize; each hints at artist and subject idiosyncrasies, while pronouncing shared elements of our human condition.

Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta. Curated by Laura Ritchie. Presented by Capital Powered Art, an exhibition series sponsored by Capital Power Corporation.