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Michael Snow Life & Work by Martha Langford

Sustained international interest in Michael Snow’s artistic practice has produced a long list of exhibitions and publications by many of the leading curators and writers in the field. The most authoritative voice is that of Snow himself: his close descriptions of his work, his published conversations with the critics and artists, and his essays on the nature of artmaking and the making of a life in the arts.


Installation view of Michael Snow’s Walking Woman Works exhibition, 1984, London Regional Art Gallery (now Museum London)


Exhibitions

Michael Snow’s exhibition record includes major institutions in Canada, the United States, Europe, and Japan, as well as annual solo exhibitions at the Isaacs Gallery in Toronto. 


1970

February 14–March 15, 1970, Michael Snow / A Survey, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Catalogue / artist’s book.

June–October 1970, 25th Venice Biennale. Catalogue.

1978
– 80

December 1978–April 1980, Michael Snow Retrospective, organized by National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Travelled to Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Kunstmuseum, Lucerne; Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam; Rheinisches Landesmuseum, Bonn; Montreal Museum of Fine Arts; Vancouver Art Gallery. Catalogue.

1983

February 22–March 20, 1983, Michael Snow: Selected Photographic Works, Frederick S. Wight Art Gallery, University of California, Los Angeles. Catalogue.

1983
– 85

November 1983–January 1985, Walking Woman Works: Michael Snow, 1961–67, organized by Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Kingston. Travelled to Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; Agnes Etherington Art Centre; Dalhousie Art Gallery, Halifax; London Regional Art Gallery; Art Gallery of Greater Victoria; Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. Catalogue.

1986

May–October 1986, The Spectral Image, Expo 86, Vancouver.

1988

October 22–December 4, 1988, Michael Snow, Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo. Catalogue.

1994

March 11–June 5, 1994, The Michael Snow Project, four simultaneous exhibitions: Exploring Plane and Contour, Around Wavelength, and Presence and Absence: The Films of Michael Snow, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Embodied Vision, The Power Plant, Toronto. Catalogue and three complementary publications.

1999
2000

July 1999–June 2000, Panoramique: Oeuvres photographiques & films / Photographic Works & Films, 1962–1999, Société des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts, Brussels. Travelled to Centre national de la photographie, Paris; Centre pour l’image contemporaine, Saint-Gervais, and Mamco, Geneva. Catalogue.

2001

September 22–November 18, 2001, Michael Snow: Almost Cover to Cover, Arnolfini Gallery, Bristol, U.K. Travelled to John Hansard Gallery, Southampton, U.K., April 23–June 8, 2002. Publication.


Michael Snow / A Survey (1970)
Biographie of the Walking Woman / de la femme qui marche: 1961–1967 (2004)


Writings by Snow

Snow’s writings are pithy, poetic, provocative, and punishingly punnish. His exhibition catalogues generally include artist’s statements, interviews, and/or essays about his practice. Snow has also created a number of artist’s books and magazine spreads that are listed here. 

Michael Snow / A Survey. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario / Isaacs Gallery, 1970.

Michael Snow — Sequences — A History of His Art. With texts by Bruce Jenkins. Gloria Moure, ed. Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrava, 2015.

Cover to Cover. Nova Scotia Series. Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design; New York: New York University Press, 1975.

High School. Toronto: Impulse Editions / Isaacs Gallery, 1979.

“Repeat Offender.” Photo-Communiqué, Fall 1986, 22–29.

“Passage in C.” C Magazine, Fall 1993, 29–40.

The Michael Snow Project: The Collected Writings of Michael Snow. Foreword by Louise Dompierre. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1994. 

56 Tree Poems. Ghent, Belgium: Imschoot, uitgevers, 1999.

“Notes sur le ‘pourquoi’ et le ‘comment’ de mes oeuvres photographiques / Notes on the Whys and Hows of My Photographic Works.” In Michael Snow: Panoramique; Oeuvres photographiques & films / Photographic Works and Films, 1962–1999, 112–23. Brussels: Societé des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts, 1999.

Michael Snow: Des écrits, 1958–2002. Edited by Jean-Michel Bouhours and Jacinto Lageira, translated by Jean-François Cornu. Paris: Éditions de l’École nationale supérieure des beaux-arts / Centre Georges Pompidou, 2002.

Biographie of the Walking Woman / de la femme qui marche, 1961–1967. Brussels: La lettre volée, 2004.

Scraps for the Soldiers. With Dimple F. Snow. Florence: Zona Archives, 2007.



Film, DVD, Video Sources

Michael Snow’s influential work has been the subject of innovative films and recorded interviews. Snow has also participated in works by other artists, notably Hollis Frampton’s performance A Lecture, 1968, for which Frampton prerecorded Snow reading the text.

Brown, Carl. Brownsnow. 1994. 16mm film, 134 min.

Still from Toronto Jazz, 1964, directed by Don Owen, 16mm film, black and white, 27 min.

Gardner, Robert. Screening Room. Cambridge, MA: Studio 7 Arts, 2007. DVD, 74 min. Originally broadcast on the television program Screening Room, on WCVB, ABC’s Channel 5, Boston, April 1977.

Owen, Don, dir. Toronto Jazz. National Film Board of Canada, 1964. 16mm film, 27 min.

Snow, Michael. Presents. Paris: Re-Voir Editions, 2001. VHS videotape, with booklet edited by Pip Chodorov.

. Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen. Paris: Re-Voir Editions, 2002. VHS videotape, with book edited by Pip Chodorov.

Wehn-Damisch, Teri, and Michael Snow. On Snow’s Wavelength: Zoom Out. Brooklyn: First Run / Icarus Films, 2001. DVD, 56 min.



Critical Interpretations

Critical interpretations of Michael Snow’s work have appeared in leading international magazines and journals of the visual arts, as well as in writings on critical theory, film studies, and cultural theory. Included in this literature are essays commissioned for exhibition catalogues. Of particular interest are three volumes (in addition to The Collected Writings of Michael Snow) that accompanied The Michael Snow Project—four comprehensive exhibitions in Toronto in 1994 co-produced by the Art Gallery of Ontario and The Power Plant—co-published by the two institutions and Knopf Canada: Visual Art, 1951–1993; Presence and Absence: The Films of Michael Snow, 1956–1991, edited by Jim Shedden; and Music/Sound, 1948–1993, edited by Michael Snow.  

Arnaud, Jean. “Touching to See.” October 114 (Fall 2005): 5–16.

Baird, Daniel. “Riffing: Jazz Inspired Michael Snow, the Most Influential Canadian Artist of All Time, to Explore the Unexplored.” The Walrus, March 2011. 

Bédard, Catherine. “Seeing between the Lines: Imagination, Nothing but ‘This,’ in Max Dean and Michael Snow.” In Image & Imagination, edited by Martha Langford, 201–10. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2005.

Bellour, Raymond. “Couches d’images.” Cinéma 011, Spring 2006, 101–17.

Bullot, Erik. “Keaton and Snow.” October 114 (Fall 2005): 17–28.

Cornwell, Regina. Snow Seen: The Films and Photographs of Michael Snow. Toronto: Peter Martin Associates, 1980.

. “Two Sides to Every Story.” In Michael Snow: Almost Cover to Cover, edited by Catsou Roberts and Lucy Steeds, 120–27. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2001. Originally printed in the catalogue for Projected Images (Minneapolis: Walker Art Center, 1974).

Damisch, Hubert. “Concert (Portrait de l’artiste en Michael Snow) / Concert (Portrait of an Artist as Michael Snow).” In Michael Snow: Panoramique; Oeuvres photographiques & films / Photographic Works and Films, 1962–1999, 83–97. Brussels: Societé des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts, 1999.

Déry, Louise, Michael Snow, Erik Bullot, Jacinto Lageira, and Stéfani de Loppinot. Solo Snow: Oeuvres de / Works of Michael Snow. Montreal: Galerie de l’UQAM; Tourcoing, France: Le Fresnoy, Studio national des arts contemporains, 2011.

Dompierre, Louise. Walking Woman Works: Michael Snow, 1961–67; New Representational Art and Its Uses. Kingston, ON: Agnes Etherington Art Centre, 1983.

. “Embodied Vision: The Painting, Sculpture, Photo-Work, Sound Installation, Music, Holographic Work, Films and Books of Michael Snow from 1970 to 1973.” In Dennis Reid, Philip Monk, Louise Dompierre, Richard Rhodes, and Derrick de Kerckhove, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art, 1951–1993, 388–477, 509–22. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994. 

Duve, Thierry de. “Michael Snow: The Deictics of Experience, and Beyond.” Parachute 78 (April/May/June 1995): 29–41. Originally written as a lecture for presentation at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto. (See also in the same issue Michael Snow, “A Letter to Thierry de Duve,” 63–65.) Also published as “Michael Snow: Les déictiques de l’expérience, et au-delà,” Les cahiers du Musée national d’art moderne 50, Centre Georges Pompidou, Winter 1994, 31–55.

. Voici, 100 ans d’art contemporain. Brussels: Société des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts; Ghent: Ludion/Flammarion, 2000.

Elder, R. Bruce. “Michael Snow’s Presence.” In The Michael Snow Project: Presence and Absence; The Films of Michael Snow, 1956–1991, edited by Jim Shedden, 94–139. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1995.

. “Sounding Snow: On Text and Sound in Michael Snow’s Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen.” In The Michael Snow Project: Presence and Absence; The Films of Michael Snow, 1956–1991, edited by Jim Shedden, 140–95. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1995. 

Fleischer, Alain. “La cinémachine de Michael Snow / Michael Snow’s Cinemachine.” In Michael Snow: Panoramique; Oeuvres photographiques & films / Photographic Works and Films, 1962–1999, 83–97. Brussels: Societé des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts, 1999.

Fulford, Robert. “Michael Snow.” Canadian Art 18, no.1 (January–February 1961): 46–47.

. “Apropos Michael Snow.” In Michael Snow, Michael Snow / A Survey, 11–13. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario / Isaacs Gallery, 1970.

Gale, Peggy. “Place des peaux.” In Tout le temps / Every Time, 126–27. Montreal: Centre international d’art contemporain de Montréal / La Biennale de Montréal, 2000.

Gervais, Raymond. “Les disques de Michael Snow / The Recorded Music of Michael Snow.” In The Michael Snow Project: Music / Sound, 1948–1993, edited by Michael Snow, 148–215, 257–301. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994.

Iles, Chrissie. Into the Light: The Projected Image in American Art, 1964–1977. New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 2001.

Judd, Donald. “In the Galleries.” Arts Magazine, March 1964. Reprinted in Donald Judd: Complete Writings, 1959–1975, 120–23. Halifax: Press of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design, 2005.

Kellman, Tila L. Figuring Redemption: Resighting Myself in the Art of Michael Snow. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2002.

Kerckhove, Derrick de. “Holography, ‘mode d’emploi’: On Michael Snow’s Approach to Holography.” In Dennis Reid, Philip Monk, Louise Dompierre, Richard Rhodes, and Derrick de Kerckhove, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art, 1951–1993, 498–507. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994. 

Klepac, Walter. “Photo-Philosophical Investigations: Photographic Works of Michael Snow, 1962–1999.” In Michael Snow: Panoramique; Oeuvres photographiques & films / Photographic Works and Films, 1962–1999, 83–97. Brussels: Societé des expositions du Palais des beaux-arts, 1999.

Kubota, Nobuo, Alan Mattes, and Michael Snow. “History of the CCMC and of Improvised Music.” In The Michael Snow Project: Music/Sound, 1948–1993, edited by Michael Snow, 78–129. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994.

Lancashire, David. “Blues in the Clock Tower.” In The Michael Snow Project: Music/Sound, 1948–1993, edited by Michael Snow, 32–77. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994.

Langford, Martha. “Snow by Degrees: Michael Snow’s Photographic Work.” Border Crossings 19, no. 3 (August 2000): 58–63.

. “Repetition / La répétition: Michael Snow and the Act of Memory.” In Michael Snow: Almost Cover to Cover, edited by Catsou Roberts and Lucy Steeds, 34–75. London: Black Dog Publishing, 2001.

. “Michael Snow: Reflections at the Speed of Light.” In Michael Snow @ MOCCA 2007. Toronto: Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, 2007. 

. “Object-Image-Memory.” In Scissors, Paper, Stone: Expressions of Memory in Contemporary Photographic Art, 125–42. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007.

. “Prezensa continua: le projezioni di Michael Snow” [Continuous Presence: Michael Snow’s Projections]. In Michael Snow: Cinema, Installazioni, Video e Arti Visuali, translated by Giulia Bancheri, 23–29. Lucca: Fondazione Ragghianti and Lucca Film Festival, 2007.

. “Ventanas en la fotografía / Picture Windows.” Exit: Imagen y Cultura / Image & Culture 26 (2007): 24–45.

. “Strange Bedfellows: Appropriations of the Vernacular by Photographic Artists.” Photography & Culture 1, no. 1 (July 2008): 73–94.

. “The Child in Me: A Figure of Photographic Creation.” In Depicting Canada’s Children, edited by Loren Lerner, 387–413. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2009.

. “Michael Snow.” In 100 Video Artists, edited by Rosa Olivares, 370. Madrid: EXIT Publicaciones, 2010.

. “Michael Snow: Screen Writing.” Switch 3, Spring 2010, 8–15.

. “Translation, Migration, Fascination: Motion Pictures by Michael Snow.” In Michael Snow: Recent Works, 29–43. Vienna: Secession, 2012.

Legge, Elizabeth.  “Taking It as Red: Michael Snow and Wittgenstein.” Journal of Canadian Art History 18, no. 2 (1997): 68–88.

. Michael Snow: Wavelength. One Work Series. London: Afterall Books, 2009.

. “Michael Snow’s Films, 1966–1971.” Switch 3, Spring 2010, 6–7.

.  “Light Erasures and Shifting Temporalities in Some ‘Later’ Works by Michael Snow” in Erasure: The Spectre of Cultural Memory, edited by Brad Buckley and John Comonos, 179—98. Faringdon, Oxfordshire: Libri Publishing, 2015.

Locke, John W. “Michael Snow’s La Région Centrale: How You Should Watch the Best Ever Film I Ever Saw.” Artforum 12, no. 3 (November 1973): 66–71.

Michelson, Annette. “Toward Snow, Part 1.” Artforum 9, no. 10 (June 1971): 30–37.

. “About Snow.” October 8 (Spring 1979): 111–24.

Monk, Philip. “Around Wavelength: The Sculpture, Film and Photo-Work of Michael Snow from 1967 to 1969.” In Dennis Reid, Philip Monk, Louise Dompierre, Richard Rhodes, and Derrick de Kerckhove, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art, 1951–1993, 292–385. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994. 

Perrin, Peter. “Cover to Cover: A Book by Michael Snow.” artscanada, October–November 1976, 43–47.

Pontbriand, Chantal. “Plus tard, plus tard … Michael Snow.” Parachute 17 (Winter 1979): 49–55.

Reid, Dennis. “Exploring Plane and Contour: The Drawing, Painting, Collage, Foldage, Photo-Work, Sculpture and Film of Michael Snow from 1951 to 1967.” In Dennis Reid, Philip Monk, Louise Dompierre, Richard Rhodes, and Derrick de Kerckhove, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art, 1951–1993, 16–289. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994. 

Rhodes, Richard. “Michael Snow: The Public Commissions.” In Dennis Reid, Philip Monk, Louise Dompierre, Richard Rhodes, and Derrick de Kerckhove, The Michael Snow Project: Visual Art, 1951–1993, 478–97. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994. 

Rioux, Gilles. “Michael Snow: Holographe / Michael Snow: Holographer.” Vie des arts 31, no. 123 (1986): 26–29. 

Rist, Peter, ed. “The Michael Snow Dossier.” Off-Screen 30 (November 2002). 

Rockman, Arnold. “Michael Snow and His ‘Walking Woman.’” Canadian Art  20, no. 6 (November/December 1963): 345–47.

Sitney, P. Adams. “Structural Film.” Film Culture 47 (Summer 1969): 1–10.

. “Michael Snow’s Cinema.” In Michael Snow, Michael Snow / A Survey, 79–84. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario / Isaacs Gallery, 1970.

Sloan, Johanne. “Conceptual Landscape Art: Joyce Wieland and Michael Snow.” In Beyond Wilderness: The Group of Seven, Canadian Identity, and Contemporary Art, edited by John O’Brian and Peter White, 73–84. Montreal: McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2007. 

Taubin, Amy. “Doubled Visions.” October 4 (Fall 1977): 33–42.

Testa, Bart. “An Axiomatic Cinema: Michael Snow’s Films.” In The Michael Snow Project: Presence and Absence; The Films of Michael Snow, 1956–1991, edited by Jim Shedden, 26–83. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1995. 

Wees, William C. “Prophecy, Memory and the Zoom: Michael Snow’s Wavelength Reviewed.” Ciné-Tracts 14/15 (Summer/Fall 1981): 78–83.

Young, Dennis. “Origins and Recent Work.” In Michael Snow, Michael Snow / A Survey, 15–16. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario / Isaacs Gallery, 1970.

Youngblood, Gene. “Icon and Idea in the World of Michael Snow.” artscanada 27 (1970): 2–14.



Overview

CCCA Canadian Art Database. “Michael Snow.” Bill Kirby, founder and editor. Accessed March 21, 2013.

Elder, Kathryn, Susan Oxtoby, and Gayathry Sethumadhavan. “Michael Snow: A Selective Guide to the Film Literature.” In The Michael Snow Project: Presence and Absence; The Films of Michael Snow, 1956–1991, edited by Jim Shedden, 208–49. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1995.

Gagnon, Jean, and Michael Snow. Anarchive 2: Digital Snow. Montreal: Fondation Daniel Langlois; Paris: Époxy Communications, 2002. Interactive DVD-ROM. 



Interviews and Conversations

Elder, Bruce. “Michael Snow and Bruce Elder in Conversation.” Ciné-Tracts 17 (Summer/Fall 1982): 13–23.

Elder, Bruce, and Michael Snow. “On Sound, Sound Recording, Making Music of Recorded Sound, the Duality of Consciousness and Its Alienation from Language, Paradoxes Arising from These and Related Matters.” In The Michael Snow Project: Music/Sound, 1948–1993, edited by Michael Snow, 216–55. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, The Power Plant, and Knopf Canada, 1994.

Enright, Robert. “The Lord of Missed Rules: An Interview with Michael Snow.” Border Crossings 26, no. 2 (May 2007): 22–40.

Gingras, Nicole, and Michael Snow. “Michael Snow: La permanence de la lumière / Transparency and Light.” Art Press 234 (April 1998): 20–26. 

MacDonald, Scott. “Michael Snow.” In A Critical Cinema 2: Interviews with Independent Filmmakers, 51–76. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Michelson, Annette. “The Sound of Music: A Conversation with Michael Snow.” October 114 (Fall 2005): 43–60.

Snow, Michael. “Hollis Frampton Interviewed by Michael Snow.” Film Culture, Spring 1970, 6–12.



Further Reading

Whitelaw, Anne, Brian Foss, and Sandra Paikowsky, eds. The Visual Arts in Canada: The Twentieth Century. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 2010.