Actor-comedian-author Steve Martin is also known internationally as a savvy collector of contemporary art. And now he can add “curator” to his resume: On Wednesday, the Art Gallery of Ontario in Toronto announced that the 68-year-old American will co-curate an unprecedented major exhibition of paintings by Group of Seven founder Lawren Harris at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, opening in the fall of 2015.
Details are still being worked out, but the plan is to tour the exhibition elsewhere in the U.S. after its California debut, then bring it back to the AGO. The show is being assembled by Martin in association with Cindy Burlingham, the Hammer’s deputy director of curatorial affairs, and Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s newly appointed curator of Canadian art. It was Hunter who previously curated the only significant show of Harris art in the U.S. to date, a 2000 exhibition at New York’s Americas Society Art Gallery.
It’s not known if Martin has any Harrises in his personal collection, but he did attend an auction in May 2010 in Vancouver at which Harris canvasses were being sold. “I enjoy Canadian art,” he told The Globe and Mail’s Marsha Lederman at that time.
“Collecting art is my biggest hobby,” Martin says, and collect it he has, beginning in 1968 with a focus on 20th-century works including Cindy Sherman photographs and paintings by Picasso, Lucian Freud, Edward Hopper, Eric Fischl, Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline.
Harris, who died in 1970, is the subject of a major retrospective in 2014 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, running Mar. 1 through May 4.