Michael Snow, Hub, 1962,
folded printed paper and paint, 15.5 in. in diameter.
Provenance: Isaacs Gallery, Toronto
Exhibited: Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, 1988, exhibition label verso.
Hub (1962) is a superb example of Michael Snow’s widely celebrated Walking Woman series. This fantastic Walking Woman piece was included in a body of work by the artist that was in constant development from 1961 to 1967. Hub captures the attention of its viewers through its ingenious use of materials, colour contrasts, forms and rhythm, allowing the viewer time to uncover the subtle silhouettes of women in motion.
Movement is critical in the analysis of the series, including “Hub” and all of Michael Snow’s Walking Women. What was the intention behind the Walking Woman? This series has been interpreted in a multitude of ways by critics, art collectors and the art community.
Snow shares his insights on art and contemporary culture in his 1962 piece titled “A Lot of Near Mrs.” Michael Snow explained that he wrote this “to clarify things for myself. It was prompted, however, by an attempt to answer what I felt were misunderstandings in what was being written about the work I was doing.” Snow’s “A Lot of Near Mrs” helps the art community understand some of the ideas and meaning behind Snow’s “Walking Woman.” “A Lot of Near Mrs.” was not published until 1980, so visitors to the “Walking Woman” exhibitions did not have access to these Snow writings.1
Some of Michael Snow’s ideas excerpted from this piece “A Lot of Near Mrs.” help understand the concepts of the series: “trademark. Trade: Art. A sign to sign”. “Put the outside inside where it belongs” Simultaneity. “She” is the same in different places and different times at the same place and time.” “Repetition, Trademark, my trade, my mark. Mock mass production. “Fact and Fiction”; the relationships between space and light illusions (imagination?) and a physically finite object. My subject is not women or a woman but the first cardboard cutout of W.W 1 made. I’m not interested in making a lot of paintings, sculptures, etc. As much as finding out what happens when you do such and such a thing… “Art” and “life” problem. Duchamp. If you can use stuff from the street as art in an art gallery why can’t you use “paintings” or art as art in the street? Not found art but lost art. Who can see it? Exhibitions “announcements” as much part of it as the paintings. I don’t believe in representation. My subject is the same in the 59 and 60 abstract paintings and sculpture but now it is acted… Women are the nearest “other”. The first “other.” There is something inside repetition.” 2
The cultural significance and reach of the Walking Woman is discussed by Louise Dompierre in Michael Snow’s Walking Women Works, a catalogue to coincide with the 1983 Michael Snow exhibition at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre. “Between 1961 and 1967(from the last Walking Woman that was exhibited at Expo ’67) Michael Snow had created more than 200 individual works in the Walking Woman series. Snow used a vast range of materials and media to explore the ideas of the Walking Woman works, moving far beyond painting, drawing, sculptures and foldages. Snow made films, prints, documentary and photographic works. The Walking Woman image was created on everyday objects such as sweatshirts, furniture, posters and exhibition announcements. The Walking Woman was displayed in museums, and galleries around the world.” 3
“Snow took his Walking Woman works out on to the streets of Toronto and New York with photographer Arthur Coughtry shooting his Walking Woman cutouts on the streets in order to record his art in the general urban environment. Sixteen photographs were mounted together in a piece he entitled Four to Five, June 20th, 1962, included in the first Poindexter Gallery exhibition in New York City. They show the Walking Woman at bus stops or on subway platforms or at any of a number of other busy locations, always purposefully intent on her own business, as the populace rushes on about theirs.” 4
Michael Snow is an internationally celebrated multidisciplinary artist whose oeuvre includes painting, sculpture, drawing, film, video, photography, holography, music, sound and writing. Over the course of a six decade career, Michael Snow has always pushed the boundaries of contemporary art. An artist that rigorously explores the nature of perception, consciousness, language and temporarilty in all his chosen artistic media. We see these ideas explored both in the “Walking Woman” series of the 1960s, and throughout his later work, in experimental filmmaking, photography, and music that has been celebrated and exhibited in public institutions all over the world.
James Rottman Fine Art carries a significant inventory of historical artworks by Michael Snow. Do not hesitate to contact us with inquiries regarding this artwork or other works by Michael Snow.
1-4Louise Dompierre, Walking Woman Works: Michael Snow 1961 – 1967, Agnes Etherington Art Centre, Queen’s University, Kingston, 1983, pages 18 – 22.
Dennis Reid, The Michael Snow Project, Visual Art, 1951 – 1993, Art Gallery of Ontario/The Power Plant, Alfred A. Knopf Canada, pages 28 – 50.