About

Background

The Mendel Art Gallery. Courtesy of University of Manitoba Archives & Special Collections, Henry Kalen fonds.

Lawren Stewart Harris, Untitled (mountains near Jasper), 1934–1940, oil on canvas, 127.8 × 152.6 cm. The Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern. Gift of the Mendel family, 1965.

Clement Greenberg at the Emma Lake Artist Workshop, 1962. University of Regina Archives & Special Collections, Ken Lochhead Fonds, 86-29.

Emily Carr, Pine Forest, 1934, oil on paper, 60.8 × 91.4 cm. The Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern. Gift of the Mendel family, 1965.

Robert Boyer, Imagio Pietatis—A New Wave for Ozone, 1990, oil, acrylic, graphite and chalk pastel on blanket, 229.5 × 249 cm. The Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern.

Remai Modern is informed by the rich culture and history of the Prairies, including Indigenous artists and nations, distinct modernist influences, and a legacy of progressive support for the arts.


INDIGENOUS LAND AND CULTURE

The province now known as Saskatchewan has long been home to the Plains Cree, Woodland Cree, Swampy Cree, Dakota, Lakota, Nakota (Assiniboine), Saulteaux and Dene First Nations. Remai Modern is located in Treaty 6 Plains Cree Territory and the Traditional Homeland of the Métis. The museum respectfully acknowledges the historic and ongoing care of these lands, and affirms The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Keeping in close dialogue with Indigenous artists and communities, Remai Modern endeavours to be a leading centre for contemporary Indigenous art and discourse.


ART IN SASKATCHEWAN

Saskatchewan has a history of progressive politics and support for the arts. 

In 1944, the province elected the first democratic-socialist government in North America, the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. In 1948 the Saskatchewan Arts Board was founded to provide vital funding to artists in all disciplines. At the time, it was only the second agency of its kind in the world. 

Saskatchewan’s art history demonstrates an often self-conscious and experimental attitude. In the 1950s and 60s, influential modern artists and critics flocked to the Emma Lake artist workshops, just north of Saskatoon. Workshop leaders, including Clement Greenberg, Kenneth Noland, Barnett Newman, Donald Judd, Frank Stella, Anthony Caro and John Cage responded to the wilderness landscape and introduced new concepts. These retreats had a lasting impact on regional aesthetics, and fostered exchanges between Canadian artists and the international art world. Generations of Saskatchewan artists have incorporated abstraction and the landscape into their work, alongside other visions of folk, pop, funk, new media and performance art. 


THE MENDEL ART GALLERY

In 1940, entrepreneur, philanthropist and art collector Frederick Mendel fled Nazi Germany and came to Saskatoon with his family. He envisioned a place for the public to access art and culture, and in 1964, with buy-in from the city and province, the Mendel Art Gallery opened its doors in a modernist building on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. 

The inaugural exhibition featured works by international artists including Franz Marc, George Grosz, Juan Gris, Marc Chagall, Georges Braque, and Francis Picabia, and important Canadian modernists such as Emily Carr, Lawren Harris, William Perehudoff, and Eli Bornstein. 

In 1965, the Mendel family donated 13 paintings to form the nucleus for the permanent collection, including work by prominent Canadian modernists. This foundational gift shaped five decades of collecting activity with strengths in Canadian and regional art practices. The collection now totals more than 8,000 works by artists of local, national and international significance. Notable artists include: John Baldessari, Bob Boyer, Georges Braque, Janet Cardiff & George Bures Miller, Anthony Caro, Marcel Dzama, Larry Fink, General Idea, Jack Goldstein, Dan Graham, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum, Louis Marcoussis, Kenneth Noland, Jules Olitski, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Rauschenberg, James Rosenquist, Michael Snow and Nancy Spero. This valuable resource for research and exhibitions will be designated as the “Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern.”

Between 1964-2015, the Mendel Art Gallery presented a unique and timely program, gaining a national reputation for its exhibitions and achieving one of the highest per-capita attendance rates in Canada. 

In 2009, Saskatoon’s growth and the physical limitations of the Mendel prompted plans to build a new museum. In 2013, construction began on a site in south downtown, as part of a newly developed River Landing.

MUSEUM HOURS

TUESDAYS & FRIDAYS
10 AM10 PM
WEDNESDAYS & THURSDAYS
10 AM5 PM
SATURDAYS, SUNDAYS & HOLIDAYS
10 AM5 PM


Remai Modern is closed Mondays except for statutory holidays.