2017 Venice Biennale

Ottawa on the Grand Canal: Celebrating Bob Rennie’s $12 M. Gift




You might have heard today that Vancouver-based collector Bob Rennie has donated 197 contemporary artworks with a collective value of $12 million to the National Gallery of Canada, in Ottawa. Earlier this evening, on the occasion of the Venice Biennale, Rennie and the National Gallery held a cocktail party on the terrace of the Hotel Danieli, to celebrate the gift and to toast Geoffrey Farmer, the artist representing Canada at the Biennale this year. And to give guests one of the most enviable views of Venice, clear across the lagoon to San Giorgio Maggiore.

At the party, I asked National Gallery of Canada curator Jonathan Shaughnessy which artworks in the gift he’s most excited about. He pointed first to a work by Farmer, Pale Fire Freedom Machine, an ambitious installation involving a working fireplace that was shown in 2005 at the Power Plant, in Toronto. Shaughnessy also pointed to a major piece by Doris Salcedo, as well as to the early works of Ian Wallace, which will fill out the National Gallery’s collection of Wallace’s work. And he singled out Brian Jungen, whose works involving Air Jordan sneakers the National Gallery had been unable to acquire but that they will get in the cache from the Rennie collection.

Followers of ARTnews‘s annual Top 200 Collectors list may know of Rennie for a different reason. As we pointed out in the 2016 list, he owns no fewer than 16 paintings by Kerry James Marshall, perhaps the most in any single collection.

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