Vancouver Real Estate Magnate Donates $12 Million in Art to The National Gallery of Canada

 

Bob Rennie offers up one of the largest gifts of contemporary art ever received by the gallery

Sculptures, paintings and mixed media pieces — 197 works in all — have been donated to Canada’s National Gallery by real estate marketer and art collector Bob Rennie.

Rennie, in Italy for the international art exhibition Venice Bienalle, says the works are a “gift to the nation to mark Canada’s 150th birthday,” adding he hopes to share them with the world.

“The national gallery has a generous lending policy. Venues and museums in large and small cities will have access to the works.” Rennie said.

Rennie's art donation

Pale Fire Freedom Machine by Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer was taken apart in Toronto, reassembled in Venice and will eventually be rebuilt and housed by the National Gallery as part of Bob Rennie’s donated collection (Rennie Collection)

Vancouver artist Geoffrey Farmer is representing Canada in the Venice Biennale with his installation Pale Fire Freedom Machine.

The massive work was taken apart from its home in the Toronto Power Plant and recreated in Venice.

When the Biennale is over, the structure will be deconstructed — and rebuilt back at the gallery in Ottawa as part of the Rennie collection.

Rennie’s donation also includes the entire life’s work of some of Canada’s prominent living artists like Brian Jungen, Damian Moppett, Rodney Graham and Ian Wallace.

“Its important the work stays together, so the story can be told forever.” said Rennie

​The Rennie Gallery

The National Gallery will be recognizing the historic offering by naming one of its exhibition galleries the Rennie Gallery.

“This remarkably generous gift transforms the National Gallery of Canada into the collection of record for some of our country’s most outstanding artists,” said Marc Mayer, director and CEO of the National Gallery of Canada.

“It deepens the exhibition and the lending possibilities for a museum whose mission is to preserve and disseminate our country’s most exceptional artistic achievements.”

Rennie says he approached the decision to part with some of his collected treasures with mixed emotions.

“It’s a feeling of letting go. Like when your kids go to university or move out of the house. Its a natural evolution.”

Rennie recently stepped down from a controversial role he held as chief fundraiser for the B.C. Liberals.

He’s also known as Vancouver’s “condo king” after building a real estate empire by developing high end condos and homes across the province and in Alberta.

“It’s great to sell condos, but it’s not what we want to be known for (referring to his family). We’d like to be known for changing the arts and culture landscape in Canada.”

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