Society

REASON TO LOVE OTTAWA: Because Gerald Trottier’s legacy continues

By PAUL GESSELL

This feature appears in Ottawa Magazine’s April 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe to the print or digital versions.

Reasons-to-love-Ottawa
Ottawa Art Gallery senior curator Catherine Sinclair holds one of Gerald Trottier’s self-portraits (Photo: Justin Van Leeuwen)

The late Gerald Trottier has long been considered one of Ottawa’s most important artists. Now the artist’s family is donating 100 of his drawings, prints, and paintings to the Ottawa Art Gallery. It is the biggest donation of a single artist’s work in the history of the gallery.

Catherine Sinclair, senior curator at the Ottawa Art Gallery, is stickhandling the deal. She was invited last year to select works stored by the family since the artist’s death in 2004. She selected a bundle. “I was like a kid in a candy store,” Sinclair says.

She chose art from all periods of Trottier’s vast career, including his early social realist watercolours of the 1940s, paintings he took to the Sao Paulo Biennial in 1965 as Canada’s representative, religious paintings from the 1980s, and his dramatic self-portraits. According to a gallery statement, the newly acquired artworks “will begin to provide a more complete picture of Trottier’s prolific career, better demonstrate the diverse subject matter that he addressed, and more accurately show the depth of his artistic ability.”

Trottier’s legacy includes works at the National Gallery of Canada, liturgical appointments in several Ottawa churches, and a large mosaic mural in the H.M. Tory Building (the first art ever commissioned by Carleton University). And, as a teacher, Trottier influenced generations of young artists.

The Ottawa Art Gallery will celebrate the acquisitions with an exhibition of some of the donated works, plus other Trottier works for sale, until June 14 at Arts Court.