Coast to Coast Art: Highlights from Our Canadian Art Select Auction

By: Dara Vandor

Canadian Art Select Auction February 22-27

Our first Canadian Art Select auction of 2020 includes artists from coast to coast and spans a range of styles and eras, providing an excellent opportunity for collectors of all stripes.

Available online from February 22-27, we would like to share a few of the highlights from this auction:

“SAW” 200

A wonderful opportunity to scoop up a piece by one of Canada’s most iconic artists, this brightly-coloured print was commissioned directly from Snow by Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art. Belonging to a limited edition of five, this auction marks the first time this image is available for purchase.

Proceeds from this lot will go towards Prefix ICA. Based in Toronto, Prefix is a non-profit organization and registered charity with the goal of fostering an appreciation for contemporary photographic and digital art.


Tucked inside a drawer for nearly 100 years, these woodcuts were unearthed only recently and belong to the estate of Frederick Henry Brigden. An artist himself, Brigden inherited the Toronto Engraving Company, which he ran while simultaneously pursuing his artistic practice. Brigden’s nephew Arnold also ran a printing company in Winnipeg at the same time that Phillips was producing his woodcuts, which may explain how Frederick Brigden came to own these editions.

What especially elevates these particular woodcuts is their unspoiled colouring. Carefully stored in total darkness, the pigments have remained vivid, untouched by sunlight, air, and the wear of daily life. Rarely do we see woodcuts of such exceptional quality at auction.

This offering is especially timely as Phillips’ work is the subject of an exhibition at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, running until May 10, 2020.

Serendipitously, we also have one of Brigden’s own paintings in this auction: Lot 145, “Winter Scene.” As such, work by the collector and the collected are displayed together in this auction.

“BOUCLE” 1965

Comtois’ innovative use of colour reveals itself more slowly in this piece than in some of his later, larger works; this painting in particular rewards first-hand viewing at one of our previews. At first glance, the yellow field appears flat but gradually reveals itself to be a bright wash of cadmium on top of a moodier base of blue or green. The artist’s layering of these contrasting colours creates a tremendous feeling of movement and depth, revealing a more complex image than first meets the eye.

Want to learn more about these or other works in this auction?

Previews for this sale will be held on Sunday, February 23 from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm and Monday, February 24 from 1:00 pm to 7:00 pm. Unable to make it? Email one of our specialists at [email protected] for a condition report or to set up a private appointment.

Click here for full auction details.


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