A Family Palette: Frances-Anne Johnston, Franz Johnston, and Franklin Arbuckle

Installation view of A Family Palette: Frances-Anne Johnston, Franz Johnston, and Franklin Arbuckle, an exhibition at the Ottawa Art Gallery (September 10, 2022 – February 5, 2023), curated by Rebecca Basciano. Photo: Rémi Thériault.

A talented family of artists featured this fall at the Ottawa Art Gallery

On view until February 5, 2023

The Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG) exhibition A Family Palette brings together, for the first time, the work of artists Frances-Anne Johnston, Franz Johnston and Franklin Arbuckle – three members of the same family. The exhibition tells the story of a talented artistic family and sheds light on the ways Frances-Anne Johnston and her relatives have contributed to the development of Canadian art.

“Frances-Anne Johnston, an under-represented Canadian artist, should be considered one of Canada’s foremost painters of still lifes, flowers, and interiors. Providing a deep understanding of her life and work, the exhibition situates Johnston among her male contemporaries, sheds light on lesser-known aspects of her artistic career and that of her relatives Franz Johnston and Franklin Arbuckle, and creates appreciation of art shaped by domestic realities such as motherhood, while also revealing gaps in the art-historical canon – a well-established practice at OAG.”
– Alexandra Badzak, Director and CEO, Ottawa Art Gallery

“Over the last several years I was enthusiastically delving through archives, interviewing the family, and digging through collections to uncover the valuable stories of these artists who form an important part of Canadian Art history. Using a feminist lens to gain recognition for Frances-Anne Johnston through primary research and the production of a monographic catalogue has been particularly close to my heart.”
– Rebecca Basciano, Curator, Ottawa Art Gallery

A feminist recovery project, A Family Palette focuses on Frances-Anne, while considering the distinct practices of all three artists and how they intersect. As a woman working within a patriarchal society, Frances-Anne’s artistic career has not been as well documented as those of her father Franz or her husband Franklin. She worked from home and found inspiration in fabrics, flowers, houseware, furniture and windows, themes that are beautifully rendered in the design of the exhibition.

Franklin Arbuckle helped shape the post–Second World War Canadian consciousness with his commissions for Maclean’s magazine. Examples of his advertisements, magazine, poster and book illustrations bring importance to this overlooked art practice.

Franz Johnston is nationally known as one of the founding members of the Group of Seven. The exhibition draws out lesser-known aspects of his life and work, including his establishment of a summer art school on Georgian Bay and as a painter of interior murals.

A Family Palette runs until February 5, 2023 at the Ottawa Art Gallery, and will then tour to RiverBrink Art Museum and Judith & Norman Alix Art Gallery.

The accompanying bilingual publication, Frances-Anne Johnston : Art and Life | Art et vie, is the first monograph on artist Frances-Anne Johnston and situates her career within 20th century Canadian art history and feminist theoretical contexts. It features beautiful colour illustrations and critical essays by curator Rebecca Basciano, and scholar Catharine Mastin, Ph.D.

This project has been made possible in part by the Government of Canada.

Ottawa Art Gallery (OAG)
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About the Ottawa Art Gallery
OAG is Ottawa’s municipal art gallery and cultural hub. Located in Ottawa’s downtown core, the expanded Gallery is a contemporary luminous cube designed by KPMB Architects and Régis Côté et associés.

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