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La Région Centrale, Michael Snow, 16mm film (transferred to HD video), colour, sound, (190:44 minutes), 1971

Condensation (A Cove Story), Michael Snow, video installation, Blu-ray loop, colour, silent, (10:28 minutes), projection (dimensions variable), edition of 4 and one AP, 2009

Collections of CNAP (France), McIntosh Gallery (London, ON), Sisita Soldevila and Yves Gevaert

(b. 1928)


Michael Snow was born in Toronto in 1928, and lives there now - but has also lived in Montréal, Chicoutimi, Winnipeg and New York. He is a musician (piano and other instruments) who has performed solo as well as with various ensembles (most often with CCMC of Toronto) in Canada, USA, Europe and Japan. Numerous recordings of his music have been released.

His films have been presented at festivals in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Korea, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Turkey, United Kingdom and USA, and are in the collections of several film archives, including Anthology Film Archives in New York City, the Royal Belgian Film Archives, Brussels, and the Oesterreichisches Film Museum, Vienna.

He has been a painter and sculptor, though since 1962, much of his gallery work has been photo-based or holographic. Work in all these media is represented in private and public collections worldwide, including the National Gallery of Canada, the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Museum of Modern Art (New York), Museum Ludwig (Cologne and Vienna), Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris), and both the Musée des Beaux-Arts and Musée d'art contemporain in Montreal.

Since 1970 he has made video, film, slide and sound installations and bookworks such as Michael Snow/A Survey (1970), Cover to Cover (1975), 56 Tree Poems (1999), and BIOGRAPHIE of the Walking Woman 1961-1967 (2004), as well as magazine works for Impulse (1975), Photo-Communiqué (1986), and C magazine (1993).

Retrospectives of his painting, sculpture, photoworks and holography have been presented at the Hara Museum (Tokyo), of his films at the Cinémathèque Française and Centre Georges-Pompidou (Paris), Anthology Film Archives and Museum of Modern Art (New York) and L'Institut Lumière (Lyons) and of his work in all media simultaneously in 1994 at the Power Plant and the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto). A retrospective of his photoworks 1962-99 called Panoramique was presented at the Palais des Beaux Arts (Brussels), touring to Centre national de la photographie (Paris) and MAMCO and Saint-Gervais (Geneva). Additional retrospective exhibitions have been mounted at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Musée d'art contemporain (Montreal). An overview of his abstract sculptural work, Objects of Vision, appeared at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2012. A major retrospective of his photoworks, Michael Snow: Photo-Centric, opened at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in early 2014.

Solo and group shows of his visual art works have been presented at museums and galleries in Amsterdam, Atlanta, Berlin, Bonn, Boston, Brussels, Kassel, Lima, Los Angeles, Lucerne, Lyons, Minneapolis, Montreux, Munich, New York, Ottawa, Paris, Pittsburgh, Quebec City, Rotterdam, San Francisco, Toronto and elsewhere. Michael Snow has executed several public commissions, the best known being Flight Stop at Eaton Centre and The Audience at Skydome (now Rogers Centre), both in Toronto. His The Windows Suite was opened in September 2006 at the Pantages Hotel and Condominium complex on Victoria Street, Toronto and his Les Lumieres opened on the façade of the Cinémathèque Québécoise in Montreal in September 2013. His latest public commission, Lightline, on the exterior of Toronto’s Trump Tower, will be launched in the summer of 2014.

Snow has received numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship (1972) the Order of Canada (Officer, 1982; Companion, 2007), and the first Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts (2000) for cinema. Snow was made a Chevalier de l'ordre des arts et des lettres, France (1995), in 2004 he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the Université de Paris I, Panthéon-Sorbonne. In 2011, he was awarded the Gershon Iskowitz Prize.

Michael Snow (OC)


In the Way, Michael Snow, DVD video loop, colour, silent,  (23:10 minutes), projection on floor, (maximum dimensions 3.6 x 2.7 meters), edition of 4 with one AP, 2011

Collections of the National Gallery of Canada and Jerry Speyer 

Michael Snow Artist Statement


I became interested in the techniques and effects that were/are specific to cinema and in finding ways to make them “star”.


My 1964 film New York Eye and Ear Control concentrated on emphasizing the simultaneity of the moving image and sound so they are perceived as parallel experiences, seeing and hearing. The zoom is a function of optics that is very specific to cinema and in 1967 I made Wavelength, a 45 minute film whose entire structure is a zoom. This film featured an interior, a room. Back and Forth, made in 1968, is constructed of back and forth panning movements of the camera at various speeds. It also features an interior, a room, in this case a school classroom. I used rooms because they are common, measurable (I mean that the spectator easily perceives the nature and size of the geometric space which is the subject of the film).


Having worked with these enclosed spaces I began to imagine making the opposite, a film of completely open space, in other words, a “landscape”. Considering the movements of the sun, the moon and the earth, I envisioned completely circular camera panning movements that were/are appropriate to filming these planets and conceived a new machine that could move the camera in these new “orbital” movements. La Région Centrale (1971) was shot in Québec. It has a duration of 3 hours. All the above-described films are shown in cinema auditoriums/theatres.


A relevant work that followed La Région Centrale is Plus Tard (1977) which is a gallery installation of 25 separate specially framed photographs. These photos were all taken by me by panning the still camera during exposure for different durations. I photographed the works (and walls) of a gallery in the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa which was presenting many paintings by the “Group of Seven”, all landscape painters. My work (“Later” in English” involved my photographic variations on now classic Canadian images.


I have also made many moving image works which are specifically made to be shown in an art gallery to an ambulatory audience. In The Way (2011) is somewhat related to La Région Centrale but is projected on the floor. It is a continuous panning over a very rocky road, mud puddles, streams, and fields of grass and flowers. Also like La Région Centrale, it is constantly in motion.


Condensation (A Cove Story) (2009) is also a gallery installation video, looped with a duration of 10 minutes and 28 seconds. It is a fixed camera time-lapse recording of the many atmospheric changes that took place over a period of several weeks in the air between the camera and the subject, a field and a distant cliff, a mountain and the sea. The sea is the Atlantic Ocean and location is in Newfoundland.

Representative Works

Plus Tard, detail view, photographic Installation, 25 Ektacolor photographs under plexiglas with painted wooden frames, (installation dimensions variable), frames sequentially mounted on 4 gallery walls, (minimum 15 cm between frames, each frame 86 x 107.2 cm), 1977

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