The Vancouver Art Gallery presents the Canadian premiere of David Milne: Modern Painting

Innovative Painter’s First Major Exhibition in Canada in Thirty Years Reveals Highlights of Half-Century Career


The Vancouver Art Gallery in collaboration with Dulwich Picture Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, with support from the National Gallery of Canada, presents David Milne: Modern Painting, on view June 16 to September 9, 2018. This is the first major exhibition of Canadian artist David Milne shown in the country in thirty years. Coming direct to the Gallery from its recent European debut in London, the exhibition features close to ninety works in oil and watercolour, never-before-presented photographs, drawings and memorabilia.

David Milne (1882 – 1953) enjoyed a career that spanned half the twentieth century, taking him from the bustling cityscape of New York, to the battlefields of Northern France and Belgium, and back to the wilderness of the Canadian and US landscape. During his progression as a painter, he carved out a distinguished place among Canada’s most original artists. Recognized for his brilliant application of colour, Milne was one of a few Canadians who exhibited in the 1913 Armory Show in New York City, the first large exhibition of modern art in North America.

After becoming an official war artist in 1918, Milne focused his art on the Canadian Forces in England and at the sites of Canadian battles in France and Belgium. With limited time to capture his subjects, out of necessity he developed a new approach to watercolour: the drybrush. This technique allowed him to quickly transfer his vivid impressions onto paper. Milne’s “war watercolours” are the core of the exhibition and are amongst the most memorable images in Canadian art. Also featured are Milne’s works from before he moved to New York and following his return to Canada in 1929. These include famed paintings of Temagami, Palgrave, Weston and Six Mile Lake.

“The Gallery is proud to bring the works of one of Canada’s most celebrated artists to Vancouver in David Milne: Modern Painting,” says Kathleen S. Bartels, Director of the Vancouver Art Gallery. “Over his half-century career, Milne developed a unique style that earned him fame beyond Canada’s borders. His groundbreaking approach to painting and his singular vision of the landscape are much-deserving of the wide recognition given by this touring exhibition.”

David Milne: Modern Painting is organized by Dulwich Picture Gallery and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection in collaboration with the Vancouver Art Gallery, with the exceptional support of the National Gallery of Canada. Following its presentation in Vancouver, the exhibition will be on view at McMichael Canadian Art Gallery in Kleinburg, Ontario from October 5, 2018 to January 14, 2019.

This exhibition is curated by Sarah Milroy and Ian A. C. Dejardin. They would like to acknowledge their special thanks to the Canadian Friends of Dulwich Picture Gallery.

Coinciding with the opening of this exhibition, Vancouver Art Gallery’s annual Heller Lecture will be given by curator Sarah Milroy on June 16, 3:00 pm at UBC Robson Square. Tickets are $30 for General Admission or $20 for students and members and can be purchased as of May 22 at

Also on the Gallery’s first floor: Site Unseen, on view June 16 to September 9, 2018

Following David Milne: Modern Painting, which examines Milne’s innovative depiction of the landscape, Site Unseen similarly considers artists’ use of the landscape—both urban and rural—as a compelling subject. This exhibition shifts mediums from painting to contemporary lens-based practices including photography, film and video. Its artists push the boundaries of their medium by introducing visual distortions or chromatic disturbances resulting from their singular processes to produce images that are uncanny—simultaneously of this world and alien. Artists include Laura Dutton, Marten Elder, Lorraine Gilbert, Rodney Graham, Mark Lewis, Thomas Ruff, and Diana Thater.

David Milne, Reflected Forms, 1917, watercolour on paper, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, Women’s Committee Cultural Fund
Photo: Stephen Topfer, Art Gallery of Greater Victoria.




Visionary Partners for Historical Exhibitions:

Huaijun Chen and Family



Paint for the exhibition space has been generously provided by Farrow & Ball.


About the Vancouver Art Gallery
Founded in 1931, the Vancouver Art Gallery is recognized as one of North America’s most respected and innovative visual arts institutions. The Gallery’s ground-breaking exhibitions, extensive public programs, and emphasis on advancing scholarship all focus on historical and contemporary art from British Columbia and around the world. Special attention is paid to the accomplishments of Indigenous artists, as well as to the arts of the Asia Pacific region—through the Institute of Asian Art that the Gallery founded in 2014. The Gallery’s programs also explore the impacts of images in the larger sphere of visual culture, design and architecture.

The Vancouver Art Gallery is a not-for-profit organization supported by its members, individual donors, corporate funders, foundations, the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia through the BC Arts Council, and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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