|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|Wanda Koop C.M., D.F.A., D.Litt., LL.D., R.C.A. (1951) (1)|
A distinguished Canadian painter, video artist, drafter, educator and community activist, Wanda Koop was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and raised in Winnipeg, Manitoba, which is still her home. Her works have been featured in numerous important group and solo exhibitions, and the National Gallery of Canada has over fifty of her paintings in its collection. She is the recipient of many awards, several honorary doctorates, and she is a Member of the Order of Canada (CM).
Her most well-known medium is acrylic paint on 4 foot by 8 foot sheets of plywood, which are exhibited singly, or combined to make a larger support, or used as part of a multi-painting installation that may include found objects*, photos, video, sound and performance. She has also worked on smaller supports and in mediums such as watercolor, pastel and ink. Her primary subjects are cultural, social and political commentary. These subjects are explored with paintings of media images, portraits, figures, cityscapes, landscapes, still life, industrial sites, war, historic events, animals, symbolism and allegory*. Her styles could be described as Conceptual Art*, Modernism*, Pop Art*, Realism* and Surrealism*. The AskART images are good illustrations of her oeuvre.
Excerpt: ‘She has never been reluctant to use unconventional materials: In addition to plywood, she has painted on upholstery and convertible-car-top fabric. For 10 years in the eighties, she painted on 8-foot-square sheets of plywood and produced a remarkable number of series, including Nine Signs, Northern Suite, Flying to the Moon and No Words. These last two bodies of work contain 60 and 55 paintings respectively, the largest of which is 16 feet by 12 feet.
Koop's wrestling with scale is not arbitrary. She said in Ottawa on the weekend that she doesn't "paint big just to paint big. My art has to be bigger than I am; otherwise it's just an idea."
What she paints is as varied as the surfaces on which she paints. In Flying to the Moon, she combined hockey masks with figures from the Beijing opera…. Distant shoreline fires grow to become a giant tear; a helicopter hovers in the air like a dollop of mercury; an attenuated yellow slit hangs in a monochromatic landscape in an exhibition of paintings and video included in her 2001 Venice Biennale installation, called In Your Eyes.’ (2)
Quote: ‘… she has never considered herself a photographer or a video artist as she is firmly rooted in the language of painting. In many ways for her, videos are moving paintings.’ (3)
Koop graduated from the University of Manitoba School of Art, Winnipeg, where she studied under Alex Bruning (b.1937), Ivan Eyre, Ken Lochhead and Don Reichert (b.1932). She was also influenced by the work (video – Once upon a Time) of video artist Steve McQueen. Koop has travelled frequently and extensively throughout Canada, including the Arctic. She has also travelled to the Ukraine, Hungary, the USA and Brazil; and, she has made multiple trips to Japan, China and Europe. She has had second homes in Paris and in Rotterdam. (4)
From 1975 to 1989, Koop conducted art workshops throughout Manitoba for the Manitoba Arts Council’s Artists in the Schools program. In 1998 she founded Art City, ‘a not-for-profit community arts centre dedicated to providing people of all ages with high-quality arts programming, free-of-charge.’ She is the Co-Creator of the Rotterdam Apartment Cooperative, a residence exchange program for artists living in The Netherlands and in Canada (1993). (5)
Koop exhibited with the Print and Drawing Council of Canada* in 1990 and as an independent artist at the Venice Biennale* in 2001.
Her works have been featured in numerous important themed group exhibitions such as “Winnipeg Under 30”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1972); “New Abstract Art”, Edmonton Art Gallery [now Art Gallery of Alberta] (1977); “Form & Performance”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1979); “Young Contemporaries” Museum London, Ontario (1980); Contemporary Canadian Art: The Younger Generation”, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1983); “Twelve Canadian Artists”, Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (1983); “Interiors”, Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (1985); “Songs of Experience”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1986); “Contemporary Art in Manitoba”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1987); “Western Canadian Icons”, Muttart Public Art Gallery [now Art Gallery of Calgary], Alberta (1988); “Off the Beaten Track”, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Scotland and touring (1989); “The Unlocked Grid”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1992); “Cultural Commentary”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1993); “Dark O’Clock”, Museum of Modern Art, Sao Paulo, Brazil (1994); “Cultural Commentary: New Work from Manitoba”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (1996); “Convergence”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1998); “Speed: Visions of an Accelerated Age”, Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, Ontario (1998); “Paintings from a Misshapen Century, 1900 – 2000”, Kelowna Art Gallery, B.C. (2000); “Dreamland”, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (2001); “Five Canadian Artists”, National Museum of Modern Art, Mumbai, India and touring (2001); “Painters Fifteen”, Shanghai Art Museum, China and Museum of Contemporary Art, Toronto (2002 – 2003); “The Shadow of Abstraction”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2004); “Scratching the Surface: The Post-Prairie Landscape”, Plug In Institute of Contemporary Art, Winnipeg (2007); “Studio Models”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2007); “Arena”, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax and touring (2008 – 2009); “Diabolique”, Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina (2009); “Off the Wall”, Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal (2009); “It Is What It Is: Recent Acquisitions of New Canadian Art”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2010); and “Oh, Canada”, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams, MA (2012).
The public venues for Koop’s solo exhibitions include the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1981, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1996, 1997 and 2010); Museum London, Ontario (1982); Glenbow Museum, Calgary (1983); Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1985 and 1999); Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (1986); Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1986); Nickle Arts Museum, University of Calgary, Alberta (1987); Canada House, London, England (1987); 49th Parallel Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art, New York City (1988); Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge, Alberta (1991); Burnaby Art Gallery, B.C. (1992); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (1998); MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina (2002); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2000 and 2011); and the Richmond Art Gallery, B.C. (2009).
Her works have also been featured in solo and group exhibitions at commercial galleries such as Birch Libralato, Toronto; Olga Korper Gallery, Toronto; Michael Gibson Gallery, London, Ontario; Mayberry Fine Art, Winnipeg and Buro Dijkstra, Rotterdam.
According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites there are Wanda Koop works in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), which has 59 of her paintings in its collection. (6)
Koop’s honors and awards include a Canada Council* Paris Studio award (1991), a Japan Fund award (1994) and a $34,000 grant (1997 – 1998); a Manitoba Arts Council grant of $25,000 (1997) and a Community Builder's Award (2000); the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal (2002) and Diamond Jubilee Medal (2012); and three honorary doctorates – from the University of Winnipeg (D.Litt., 2002), the Emily Carr University of Art and Design [Vancouver] (D.Litt., 2007), and the University of Manitoba (LL.D., 2009). She was elected to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* in 2005 and appointed a Member of the Order of Canada* (CM) in 2006.
Her Order of Canada citation reads:
“Wanda Koop is one of the most renowned visual artists working in Canada today. Her paintings have been collected and exhibited by many prestigious institutions at home and abroad. As well, she presented a multimedia installation entitled In Your Eyes at the 2001 Venice Biennale. A long-time resident of the West Broadway area of Winnipeg, she has been the driving force behind Art City, a storefront arts centre. By generously giving of her time, she has provided an outlet for inner-city youth to explore their creativity and has helped to restore a sense of hope, meaning and pride within her community.” (7)(8)
(1) Please note: Koop exhibited her work through most of the 1970s and into the early 1980s as Wanda Condon, using the surname of her first husband. Her second husband (1977 – 2001) is the artist William (Bill) Eakin (b. 1952). Material for this biography was collected for the names Wanda Condon and Wanda Koop. Additional source: Wanda Koop: On the Edge of Experience (2010), Mary Reid, et al (see AskART book references).
(2) Source: “Wanda Koop's 360 Degree Vision” by Robert Enright, The Globe and Mail [newspaper], February 22, 2011.
(3) Source: Wanda Koop: On the Edge of Experience (2010), Mary Reid, et al (see AskART book references).
(4) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their name, have their own records in AskART.
(5) Additional source: Art City website.
(6) Twenty of the Koop works in the NGC collection are illustrated online. To view them see the following link: http://www.gallery.ca/en/see/collections/artist_work.php?iartistid=2984.
(7) Citation source: Office of the Secretary to the Governor General of Canada.
(8) Please note: Additional recognition of Koop’s work has also come in the form of film productions such as the CBC Television documentary Wanda Koop, directed by Ernie Zuk and broadcast in the Fall of 1984; the television (Vision TV, SCN, Bravo!, CBC) documentary Seventh Sister, directed by Gordon McLennan and produced by the National Film Board of Canada and Buffalo Gal Pictures in 1997; and the movie KOOP, directed by Katherine Knight and produced by Site Media Inc. in 2011. M.D. Silverbrooke
A Concise History of Canadian Painting 3rd edition (2012), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)
Canadian Who's Who 2012 – 2013 (2012), edited by Anderson Charters and Susan Charters (see AskART book references)
Wanda Koop: On the Edge of Experience (2010), Mary Reid, Josée Drouin-Brisebois and Robin Laurence (see AskART book references)
The Encyclopedia of Manitoba, (2007), edited by Ingeborg Boyens (see AskART book references)
Canadian Paintings, Prints and Drawings (2007), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)
Benezit Dictionary of Artists (2006), English version (see AskART book references)
Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)
Canadian Art: From its Beginnings to 2000 (2002), by Anne Newlands (see AskART book references)
Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture (2001), by Robert James Belton (see AskART book references)
Contemporary Canadian Artists (1997), edited by Robert Lang (see AskART book references)
A to Z of Canadian Art: artists & art terms (1997), by Blake McKendry (see AskART book references) [Condon]
By A Lady (1992), by Maria Tippett (see AskART book references)
Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references) [Condon]
The Best Contemporary Canadian Art (1987), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)
Contemporary Canadian Art (1983), by David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff (see AskART book references)
Wanda Koop's 360 Degree Vision by Robert Enright, The Globe and Mail [newspaper], February 22, 2011.
Canadian Heritage Information Network* (website)
Art Gallery of Ontario Research Library & Archives (website)
National Gallery of Canada (website)
Library and Archives Canada (website)
Canada Council for the Arts (Manitoba funding report)
Manitoba Arts Council – Dominique Lemoine, (email)
* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see AskART.com. Glossary http://www.askart.com/AskART/lists/Art_Definition.aspx
Written and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.
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