Liz Magor

Liz Magor (b. 1948, Winnipeg; lives/works: Vancouver) is an artist whose practice has centred primarily on sculpture for over four decades. Using traditional mould-making techniques, Magor replicates everyday objects either as discrete, uncanny forms, or spliced together with an unrelated quotidian object of her environment. In Hollow (1998–1999), Magor hollow-cast a section at the base of a tree trunk, leaving a wall just a few inches thick, which she lined inside with soft foam. The resulting cavity is large enough to crawl into and the artist underscored that invitation by placing a blue sleeping bag inside. More recent work includes a recurring motif of cardboard boxes cast in polymerized gypsum and covered in a trompe l’oeil patina and paired with found objects like stuffed animals or clothing. In McKee and Cook (2017), one such slim “box” stands on the floor as a stuffed animal draped over top looks like it is about to drop a vintage garment that it is dangling on a hanger. Consistent throughout Magor’s practice is an experimentation with traditional sculptural elements such as mass, volume, and weight, mixed with a slightly sardonic humor. In even the most unassuming items, like a plastic bag, her approach draws out the non-utilitarian functions of objects and our human attachments to them, such as needs for comfort and affirmation.

Magor studied at the Vancouver School of Art and at Parsons School of Design in New York City. In 2021, France awarded Liz Magor as a recipient of the Chevalier dans l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. In 2015, she was the recipient of the Gershon Iskowitz Prize, and in 2001, she was recipient of the Governor General’s award. In 1987, she exhibited at documenta 8 in Kassel, Germany, and in 1984, she represented Canada at the Venice Biennale.

She has presented numerous solo exhibitions at the Carpenter Center for the Arts, Cambridge; the Renaissance Society, Chicago; the David Ireland House, San Francisco (2019); The Modern and Contemporary Art Museum of Nice, France; Kunstverein in Hamburg, Germany; Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (2017); Musée d'art contemporain de Montréal (2016); Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (2015, 1986); Peep-Hole, Milan (2015); Triangle France, Marseille (2013); Henry Art Gallery, Seattle (2009); Simon Fraser University Gallery, Vancouver (2008); The Power Plant, Toronto (2003); Vancouver Art Gallery (2002, 1980); Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2000); Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon; Winnipeg Art Gallery; Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (1987); and The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (1977). Her work has been included in group exhibitions including Le Crédac, Ivry sur Sein, France (2020); Musée d’art Moderne de la Ville de Paris (2019); Kunsthalle Basel, Switzerland (2017); Glasgow Sculpture Studios (2016); Marcelle Alix, Paris (2015); Orange County Museum of Art, Santa Ana; Musée d’art contemporain de Montreal (2012); Seattle Art Museum; Wattis Institute, San Francisco; Vancouver Art Gallery; Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego (2003); National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (2001); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1995); Museum of Modern Art, New York (1992); Walter Phillips Gallery, Banff (1989); and Biennale of Sydney (1982).