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The Edge: The Abstract and the Avant-Garde in Canada

The Edge: The Abstract and the Avant-Garde in Canada title treatment

The avant-garde, originally a French term, is the part of an army that goes forward ahead of the rest. In art, it characterizes work that is innovative, exploring new subjects or forms. In Canada, artists looking beyond traditional approaches to composition and typical representations of the land led the way into modernity.

This exhibition establishes the avant-garde in Canada as tied to the continuum of abstraction that characterizes early 20th century modern art: It introduces the various avant-garde approaches to art-making in two-dimensions that emerged as artists applied the language of shapes, lines and colours to represent immaterial qualities.

The Edge: The Abstract and The Avant-Garde in Canada brings together works by some of the most recognized artists in Canadian art history as well as examples from their contemporaries, drawn from the Art Gallery of Alberta’s collection. Featuring a selection of works in painting, drawing and print, it includes,among others

  • works from vanguard modern artist collectives such as the Contemporary Arts Society in Montreal
  • works by early pioneers in abstraction such as Fritz Brandtner, Bertram Brooker and Kathleen Munn
  • ultimately, a selection from Canada’s most significant contribution to the international avant-garde, Paul Emile Borduas and Les Automatistes.

Organized by the Art Gallery of Alberta and Presented by Enbridge.

Laura Ritchie

Laura Jane Ritchie is the Curator at the Kelowna Art Gallery. She holds a BA in Art History from Mount Allison University and an MA in the same from Western University. Laura Jane has worked in collections and exhibitions management and visual arts administration for and with such Canadian art organizations as the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, the New Brunswick Crafts Council, the New Brunswick Arts Board, Museum London, the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery and the Commonwealth Association of Museums. Formerly the Head of Exhibitions and Collections Management at the Art Gallery of Alberta, Laura Jane’s curatorial projects focus on showcasing permanent collection treasures. She is a fellow of the Getty Leadership Institute’s NextGen, Executive Education for the Next Generation of Museum Leaders. 



Monday: closed
Tuesday: closed
Wednesday: closed
Thursday: 11am-7pm
Friday: 11am-5pm
Saturday: 11am-5pm
Sunday: closed


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AGA members
Youth 0-17
Alberta students 18+
Out-of-province students
General admission
Seniors 65+


2 Sir Winston Churchill Square
Edmonton, Alberta
Canada T5J 2C1