TORONTO.- On November 27 the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation acknowledge Françoise Sullivan's contribution to visual arts in Canada . As a recipient of the 2008 Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO, Sullivan will receive a $25,000 award and her work will be featured in a temporary exhibition at the AGO in 2009.
The AGO's permanent collection includes four of Sullivan's works. Most recently acquired is a series of 17 vintage photographs titled, Danse de la neige (1948). Staging her movements against the stark white landscape of Canadian winter, the 17 photographs reveal her action involving the body as a liberated and expressive agent in the landscape.
"Françoise Sullivan is an inventive artist whose work has unfolded over six decades, linking modern and contemporary sensibilities in painting, dance, sculpture, and photography," says David Moos, AGO curator of contemporary art and a member of the jury that selected Sullivan. "In each medium she selects, Sullivan is an innovator. She remains a dynamic, prolific artist today whose work is vitally relevant as she contributes to the foundation of Canadian visual identity."
Sullivan was part of Les Automatistes, the avant-garde movement led by Paul-Émile Borduas, and was a signatory of the group's 1948 manifesto, Rufus Global. The manifesto sought to liberate the subconscious through abstraction. It was these ideals and her ambition as a dancer that led to the production of such works as Danse de la neige (1948).
Other works by Sullivan in the AGO collection include: Serie "Hommages à" no.4 "Jean-Paul" (2003), Portrait of Madeleine Marois (1943), and Dance in the Snow (1977), a portfolio reprint of Danse de la neige, #1-17 from 1948.
Françoise Sullivan was born in Montreal , Quebec in 1925, where she currently resides. She received her early training at the École des beaux-arts de Montreal and holds honorary degrees from the Université du Quebec à Montreal and York University in Toronto . She has lived an extraordinary life in the arts, well known at the outset as a dancer and choreographer. Since then, it has been her work as a painter, sculptor and photographer that has defined her long illustrious career. Sullivan's work is held in the Musée d'art contemporain de Montreal, the Musée du Quebec, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, and the National Gallery of Canada. In 2001 she received the Order of Canada and in 2005 was a recipient of the Governor General's Award in the Visual and Media Arts.
In 2007 the AGO and the Iskowitz Foundation partnered to raise awareness of the visual arts in Canada with the renaming of the annual award established 20 years ago by Canadian painter Gershon Iskowitz (1921-1988). Iskowitz acknowledged that it a grant enabled him to achieve his distinctive style. The AGO is home to the artist's archives, which include early works on paper, sketchbooks and memorabilia, and possesses 29 paintings by Iskowitz spanning from 1948 to 1987.