Sloan, Johanne, Joyce Wieland Life & Work / Johanne Sloan, Toronto, Art Canada Institute, 2014.→
Allen, Jan, Joyce Wieland: Twilit Record of Romantic Love, Kingston, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, 1995.→
Wieland, Joyce, Véritable amour patriotique, Ottawa, National Gallery of Canada, 1971
Joyce Wieland: Twilit Record of Romantic Love, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada, December 18, 1994 – March 26, 1995→
Joyce Wieland: Quilts, Paintings and Works on Paper, Canada House Cultural Centre Gallery, London, UK, July 12 – October 21, 1988.→
True Patriot Love, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, July 2 – August 8, 1971.
Canadian visual artist and filmmaker.
Joyce Wieland was the daughter of English immigrants to Canada. Her childhood was marked by poverty and the loss of her parents at a young age. In secondary school in the late 1940s she studied with painter Doris McCarthy (1910-2010) who became a strong influence and role model. J. Wieland’s drawings and paintings from the 1950s are self-portraits and couples intimately entangled. They proclaim her life-long interest in themes of love and self-exploration, for example Lady Examining her Magic and Protective Circle (c. 1955), and her sustained commitment to figuration, fantasy and narrative. In her final decades, she returned to these foundational themes in delicate colour pencil drawings such as Bloom of Matter series (1981), and high-key canvases: Artist on Fire (1983), Paint Phantom (1983-1984) and Menstrual Dance(1987). Until recently this last period, revelling in human and other-than-human relations as well as female empowerment, has been ignored by scholars and curators, overshadowed by the radical experimentation of her films and quilts of the 1960s and 1970s.
Working as a commercial artist in the 1950s was a critical turning point for J. Wieland. She befriended a group of like-minded young artists, including Michael Snow (1928-2023) whom she married in 1956 and divorced in 1982. In 1962 they moved to New York City where they lived until 1971. Prior to moving, J. Wieland created her first major series of paintings, affected by international abstract art movements, yet demonstrating a resistance to pure painting by including collaged elements, scribbles and pop culture references, signalling her ingenuity and humour, as well as her formal facility with colour and composition. In Heart On (1961) the red-stained unstretched canvas features cutout hearts floating animatedly, and in Laura Secord Saves Upper Canada (1961), a collaged paper aeroplane swirls around the painting, anachronistically referencing the young heroine’s 1812 patriotic resistance to the American invasion near Niagara. J. Wieland’s love of Canada is most graphically expressed in her lithograph, O Canada (1971), which the artist produced by wearing lipstick and kissing the stone while mouthing the words to Canada’s anthem. She daringly centres women’s experience while composing alluring imagery that is uniquely her own. Several of these works were acquired by public and private collections at the time.
New York heightened the artist’s ecological, political and feminist consciousness. Her practice expanded to assemblage, film and hangings created with plastic materials, which were produced in 1966 and 1967, challenging the notion that art functions apart from politics and daily life. The Space of the Lama (1966) synthesises her interests in a vertical brightly coloured plastic quilt, comprised of a stuffed reel and crescent moon, 16 mm film, and photographs of the Earth rising and her godson Munro Ferguson. They anticipate her textile quilts of the late 1960s and early 1970s made for her retrospective True Patriot Love at the National Gallery of Canada (NGC) in 1971. Yet it was J. Wieland’s experimental films, such as Water Sark (1965) and Rat Life and Diet in North America (1968), that established her as a pivotal figure in feminist filmmaking. Returning to Canada, she focused on her feature film, The Far Shore (1976), a romantic tragedy dismissed at the time but today understood as pioneering in its radically feminist strategies.
In the early 1990s J. Wieland was debilitated by Alzheimer’s and she died in 1998. Her work has been collected by MoMA, New York; the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; NGC and others. Her archives are held by York University and the Cinémathèque québécoise. Her films were the subject of a retrospective at the Arsenal – Institut für Film und Videokunst in Berlin, (Joyce Wieland, 2016), and were included in Artist’s Choice: Yto Barrada—A Raft (MoMA, New York, 2021-2022) and No Master Territories (Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Berlin, 2022). A major retrospective is in development for 2025.
A biography produced as part of the “AWARE x Canada” research programme, in partnership with the UQAM Gallery, with the support of the Commission permanente de coopération franco-québécoise (CPCFQ)
Joyce Wieland, Lady Examining her Magic and Protective Circle, c. 1955, black crayon on wove paper, verall (sheet): 11 x 17 7/16 in. [27.9 x 44.3 cm], Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Estate of Donald F. Vincent, London, Ontario, 2000, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Photo: AGO
Joyce Wieland, Time Machine Series, 1961, oil on canvas, overall: 80 x 106 ¼ in. [203.2 x 269.9 cm], Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the McLean Foundation, 1966, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Photo: AGO
Joyce Wieland, The Space of the Lama, 1966, plastic, fabric, cotton, film, photographs, 149.5 × 39.2 × 7.5 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, gift of Betty June Ferguson, 2017, © The National Gallery of Art, © Photo: AGO
Joyce Wieland, Flag Arrangement, 1970-1971, knitted wool, overall: 36 1/8 x 53 15/16 in. [91.7 x 137 cm], Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Toronto Star Newspapers Ltd., 2005, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Photo: AGO
Joyce Wieland, The Water Quilt, 1970-1971, fabric, embroidery thread, thread, metal grommets, braided rope, ink on fabric, overall: 48 x 48 in. [121.9 x 121.9 cm], Art Gallery of Ontario, Purchase with assistance from Wintario, 1977, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Photo: AGO
Joyce Wieland, Facing North-Self Impression, 1973, lithograph on papersheet: 13 1/16 x 17 3/16 in. [33.1 x 43.6 cm], Art Gallery of Ontario, Purchase, 1987, © National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, © Photo: AGO