Due to the current lockdown in Toronto, this installation has been postponed indefinitely. Please check back for updates.
‘Canada Modern’ is a physical and digital archive of Canadian graphic design, with modernism central to its glowing heart. In its first ever exhibition, ‘Canada Modern’ features a selection of artefacts by trailblazing designers, active in the years 1960-85, who contributed to the emergence of Canada’s bold new visual identity during an exciting period of modernization for the nation. These designers honed their creativity and design philosophy through commercial work, as Canada experienced a cultural coming-of-age with major global events like Expo 67 and the 1976 Summer Olympics.
In the exhibition, a striking assortment of posters, publications, corporate identity, and ephemera come together to reveal a familiar sense of Canadian identity and belonging, with many recognizable symbols that have lasted in our national consciousness through to the present day. What we also find is a simple, utilitarian style of graphic communication that radiates confidence, warmth, and optimism. This design language has roots in the International Style, which arrived from Europe and fused with a freer North American expression to create a truly distinct Canadian aesthetic, both modern and human.
The exhibition is complemented by interpretations of the archive by young Canadian designers. Shelby Guergis’s design practice explores the visual language of nationhood and invites the public into a participatory experience of making a ‘democratic’ work. Juan Saavedra approaches design through the lens of queer theory, presenting an overlooked history of LGBTQ discrimination in the workplace in the era concerning the archive. Also on view are modernist-inspired works by guest American designers, Antonio Carusone of Aisle One / Superlunar and Julian Montague.
Jo Minhinnett and Blair Thomson
About Canada Modern
Conceived in 2016 and launched in 2018 by creative director and designer Blair Thomson, the Canada Modern archive exists to preserve, document, educate and inspire, to contribute a richer understanding of a seminal point in Canada’s development as a nation — one of optimism, creativity and modernity. Focused on identity design, typography and graphic communication, the archive seeks to build a definitive and accessible record of this significant epoch, and serve as a valuable reference for designers, students, teachers, historians and citizens alike.
Explore the archive online at canadamodern.org