William Huffman, a 39-year-old independent curator and the associate director of the Toronto Arts Council, is the mastermind behind the 100-piece collection of fine art adorning the halls of the G8 and G20 meeting sites, where leaders have gathered for the weekend. But he took the job on one condition: no Group of Seven. In the end, the federal government's Summit Management Office gave him a virtual carte blanche to choose what he liked, and shouldered the costs and logistics of transportation and insurance.
Instead of reaching for the expected landscapes and "the usual icebergs," he enlisted the Art Dealers Association of Canada to source and gather what he describes as "the next steps in Canadian art" into a pair of exhibitions that seek to explore Canada's geographical and cultural diversity and to tell a story that can be digested during a brief and busy visit. The result is a series of prominent artworks by Canadians ranging from Jean-Paul Riopelle and Norval Morrisseau to Ivan Eyre, Gershon Iskowitz and Brian Jungen.
But Mr. Huffman appears to have succeeded in his mission: Prime Minister Stephen Harper is said to be thrilled with the $5-million Canada Collection, which was drawn from galleries and dealers in several provinces.
"The idea that you've got mostly living artists in this exhibition, that these are people I can now follow if I'm interested in the work to see what they're doing next, is really great," Mr. Huffman said.