An oil painting of a small blue house in a hilly landscape. Two other structures are visible amongst bare-branched trees and shrubs.
Henri Leopold Masson, The Blue House, 1947. Oil on canvas. The Mendel Art Gallery Collection at Remai Modern. Gift of H. S. Southam, 1947.

It started with a gift: Views from the Blue House explores the collection

Over the past six decades, Remai Modern and its predecessor, the Mendel Art Gallery, have been building a public art collection. Modest in its origin, the collection stems from a single gift: Henri Masson’s small oil painting The Blue House, donated by H. S. Southam to the Saskatoon Art Centre in 1947.

—Former Mendel Art Gallery staff member, Helen ‘Bubs’ Coleman in her book Dreaming a Gallery

By the time Remai Modern opened its doors some 50 years later, the collection had grown exponentially, and now numbers more than 8,000 works.

Using Masson’s painting as a starting point, our new exhibitionViews from the Blue House opened on January 27. It looks to the past and future of Remai Modern’s diverse collection, and highlights the influences and ideas that have given the collection its current shape. With many narratives, histories, and perspectives on view, we invite you to explore and find your own stories and relationships with these works.

What is a collection? Why is it important?

As a major collecting museum in Saskatchewan, Remai Modern holds over 8,000 artworks in a wide variety of media. Our collecting focus is on art produced from around 1900 to the present moment and aims to strike a balance between local, regional and global interests.

The collection’s diversity offers compelling connections between art from the Great Plains and the wider world, placing local artists from this region in a broader context. Once an artwork is acquired by Remai Modern, it ensures that it will be conserved and enjoyed by the public for generations to come, uplifting the artists and stories of our current day.

Remai Modern’s collecting activities began in 2014, building on the legacy of the Mendel Art Gallery’s 51-year history in Saskatoon (1964-2015). In 1965, the Mendel family donated 13 paintings to form the nucleus for the permanent collection, including work by prominent Canadian modernists. This foundational gift shaped five decades of collecting activity with strengths in Canadian and regional art practices. You’ll notice these works are labeled “The Mendel Art Gallery collection at Remai Modern”, keeping the Mendel’s legacy alive in our museum.

—Eva Mendel Miller, in a publication to commemorate the Mendel Art Gallery’s first exhibition

Many of our acquisitions in recent years couldn’t have been purchased without the support of our lead patron, Ellen Remai. On the evening of Remai Modern’s grand opening in October 2017, one of the pledges she announced on behalf of The Frank and Ellen Remai Foundation was $1 million a year for the next 25 years to support art purchases. The foundation also donated 405 linocuts by Pablo Picasso to Remai Modern in 2012, the most comprehensive collection of its kind in the world. Remai’s explanation of the gift was simple and sincere:

—Ellen Remai

Our collection has also grown through the gifts of generous donors, who are acknowledged in our annual reports each year. Expanding the collection is a notable way to support contemporary artists, providing a source of income and raising their profile in Canada and around the world. These new acquisitions also allow the museum to represent more artistic voices that speak to key movements and moments in contemporary art.

Exploring online

While we look forward to your visit to Views from the Blue House, we also provide access to our collection online. Staff continually work to update information and images, providing context for the art that you see.

Before you plan your next museum trip, take a moment to explore our online database:

  • Roger Aksadjuak
  • David Alexander
  • Joseph Angatajuak
  • Kenojuak Ashevak
  • Pitseolak Ashoona
  • Shuvinai Ashoona
  • Amalie Atkins
  • Irene Avaalaaqiaq Tiktaalaaq
  • David Barnett
  • Carl Beam
  • Lynda Benglis
  • Martin Bennett
  • Eli Bornstein
  • Bob Boyer
  • Jack Bush
  • Emily Carr
  • Donovan Chester
  • Robert Christie
  • Alex Colville
  • Lois Conner
  • Louise Cook
  • Reta Cowley
  • Ruth Cuthand
  • Stanley Day
  • Jim Graham
  • Philip Hakuluk
  • Gregory Hardy
  • Lawren S. Harris
  • James Henderson
  • James D. Hogg
  • Robert Houle
  • Luke Iksiktaaryuk
  • Tuna Iquliq
  • Edit Zilahi Ivan
  • A.Y. Jackson
  • William John James
  • Alex Janvier
  • Franz Johnston
  • Augustus Kenderdine
  • Illingworth Kerr
  • Roy Kiyooka
  • Dorothy Knowles
  • Luther Konadu
  • Ernest Lindner
  • Arthur Lismer
  • Attila Richard Lukacs
  • Kenneth Lum
  • Becky Mackie James
  • Art McKay
  • Henri Leopold Masson
  • Fred Moulding
  • Wynona Croft Mulcaster
  • Clint Neufeld
  • Alison Norlen
  • Toni Onley
  • John Pangnark
  • Graeme Patterson
  • Thelma Pepper
  • William Perehudoff
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Edward Poitras
  • John Reeves
  • Eliyakota Samualie
  • Joseph M. Sánchez
  • Sandra Semchuk
  • Inglis Sheldon‑Williams
  • Hilda Stewart
  • David Thauberger
  • Eli Tikeayak
  • Anne Truitt

Views from the Blue House: The Remai Modern Collection is on view throughout 2024.