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 Tim Gardner  (1973 - )

About: Tim Gardner


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Lived/Active: British Columbia/Ontario/Iowa / Canada      Known for: realist male figure, portrait, genre and landscape watercolor painting

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BIOGRAPHY for Tim Gardner
1973 (Iowa City, Iowa)
British Columbia/Ontario/Iowa / Canada

Photo by Hubert Kang (2012). Courtesy Canadian Art magazine.

Often Known For
realist male figure, portrait, genre and landscape watercolor painting

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tim Gardner (1973)

A prominent Canadian/American painter and draftsman, Tim Gardner was born in Iowa City, Iowa; grew up in Canada; and currently lives in the Comox Valley on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. He’s also lived in Waterloo, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; New York City; and Victoria, British Columbia. His works are in the permanent Collections of the Museum of Modern Art (New York), the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York).

His primary medium is watercolor, however, he has also worked in pencil, oil pastel and oil paint. His subjects are portraits, landscapes, figures, out door activities, interiors, street scenes, family, genre*and social commentary. His style is Photo Realism*. The AskART images are excellent illustrations of his work.

Attached below is his biography courtesy of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York:

Tim Gardner was born in Iowa City in 1973 and grew up in Canada. He received a BFA from the University of Manitoba in 1996 and an MFA from Columbia University in New York in 1999. Since the late nineties, Gardner's paintings, drawings, and lithographs have explored a specifically North American middle-class world of masculinity and the photographic conventions used to document it. His source material comprises snapshots, either found or taken by the artist, which capture the rites of passage in which his subjects partake.

His early watercolors render in exacting detail the amateur photography taken by his brothers to chronicle the drunken exploits of their friends. For example in Untitled (S in Vegas) (2001), an inebriated young comrade poses before the neon signage of the Flamingo Casino; while the subject's environs and pose, arms thrown back in a festive gesture and glass in hand, connote the good time the photographer and subject intend to document, the subject's expression is markedly self-conscious and troubled. Similar stilted gazes pervade Gardner's watercolors of a hockey team group snapshot and a poolside goodbye party, supplanting the expected expression of male bravado or camaraderie. In 2004–05, Gardner extended these issues to a series of pastels in which he meticulously recreated the staged studio portrait photographs taken by anonymous professionals for family albums, grade-school yearbooks, and graduation keepsakes.

At the invitation of the National Gallery in London, Gardner spent three months at the museum in preparation for his solo exhibition there, inciting a new vein in the artist's engagement with male identity and how it is portrayed according to pictorial conventions. In his recent works in both pastel and watercolor, Gardner portrays contemporary male subjects amid sublime nature, inspiring comparisons to Romantics like Caspar David Friedrich. However, in works like Skier (2006) and Untitled (Glacier Lake) (2008), the lone figure in contemporary garb is perhaps less inclined to grandiose reverie, as he settles into a nonchalant pose before expansive mountain ranges and glorious skies.

Solo exhibitions of Gardner's work have been organized by 303 Gallery in New York (2000, 2001, 2003, and 2005), Modern Art in London (2003 and 2006), Indianapolis Museum of Contemporary Art (2005), The National Gallery in London (2007), and Vancouver Contemporary Art Gallery (2009). His work has also been included in major group exhibitions such as Greater New York at P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center in New York (2000), Painting on the Move at Kunsthalle Basel (2002), New Work: Tim Gardner, Marcelino Goncalves, Zak Smith at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2005), and Art in America: 300 Years of Innovation organized by the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Shanghai (2007). Gardner lives and works in British Columbia.

Source: Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
Additional sources:
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
Canadian Heritage Information Network*
Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver
Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto
Museum of Modern Art, New York
National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, California
University of Manitoba, Winnipeg
Columbia University News, New York, “One Year Out of the School of the Arts, Painter Tim Gardner Explodes onto the New York Art Scene”, by Jason Hollander; April 25, 2000
The Guardian, London, England, “Artist of the week 116: Tim Gardner” by Skye Sherwin; Thursday 2 December 2010

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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