In 1967 Michael Snow’s (b. 1928) groundbreaking experimental films catapulted him out of the painter’s studio and into the international avant-garde. Snow is a leading figure in new media and Conceptual art; his work spans more than fifty years of production and includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, books, holograms, projections, installations, musical recordings, performances, and essays.
Ever-conscious of the particular nature of each medium he uses, Snow has sought to intensify the spectator’s involvement with art and to challenge conventional applications of sensory media. The human factor is, and has always been, explicit in the making of his work and, regardless of the medium, what matters is the mark, the handprint, or the physical energy of the artist. Snow also asserts that viewing art is an ephemeral experience. The work continuously changes in the perception of a living, breathing spectator.
“In drawing, painting, carving, moulding, folding, panning, and performing to make visual art or music, what matters [to Snow] is the mark, the handprint, or the physical energy of the artist.”Martha Langford
Michael Snow: Life & Work reveals that, in concert with the development of a unique culture and a national identity, Snow enabled the creative impetus among Canadians to rethink art in relation to process, technology, and everyday experience. This book explores this iconic artist, whose work has stood for freedom of expression, recognition of intellectual property, public education, and the importance of state and private investment in the support of culture. Snow continues to create works that embrace new technologies, securing his legacy as one of the most celebrated figures in contemporary art.
Martha Langford is Research Chair and Director of the Gail and Stephen A. Jarislowsky Institute for Studies in Canadian Art and a Professor of Art History at Concordia University in Montreal. Her publications include Suspended Conversations: The Afterlife of Memory in Photographic Albums (2001); Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art (2007); and A Cold War Tourist and His Camera, co-written with John Langford (2011); all from McGill-Queen’s University Press.
Banner: Michael Snow, Venus Simultaneous, 1962, oil on canvas and wood construction, 200.6 x 299.7 x 15.2 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto.
Portrait: Michael Snow in New York in 1964, photographed by John Reeves.