Ian Wallace OC RCA was born in Shoreham, Great Britain, in 1943. He graduated in art history from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, where he taught from 1967 to 1970. He held another teaching position at the Vancouver School of Art (now Emily Carr University of Art and Design) in Vancouver from 1972 to 1998.
The artist has participated in numerous group exhibitions internationally, including 2022 Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, Austria, Whitechapel Gallery, London, Great Britain, 2021 Sprengel Museum Hannover, Germany, 2018 Kunsthalle Wien, Austria, 2015 Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy, 2014 CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts, San Francisco, USA, 2010 Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Turin, Italy, 2008 Generali Foundation, Vienna, Austria, 2006 Musée national d'art moderne, Paris, France, 2005 Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst Antwerp, Netherlands, 2004 Pinakothek der Moderne, Munich, Germany, 1995 Musée d'art moderne et contemporain, Geneva, Switzerland, 1995 Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, Netherlands, Museum of Modern Art, New York, USA, 1991 Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA), Los Angeles, USA.
In 2012 to 2013, the Vancouver Art Gallery presented one of the most comprehensive shows of the work of this important Canadian conceptual artist to date. In 2008, a first comprehensive retrospective in Europe was dedicated to im, developed and shown together by the Kunsthalle Zürich, the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam, and the Kunstverein für die Rheinlande und Westfalen in Düsseldorf.
The artist has been honored with a number of high awards: in 2004, Wallace was awarded the Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. In 2012, he was named an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC), the second highest honor for merit, and was awarded the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. In 2014, he was awarded the Chevalier de L'Ordre des Artes et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2016, he was admitted to the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts (RCA). Ian Wallace lives and works in Vancouver.
Wallace gained international recognition for his authoritative work as an artist and teacher. He was centrally involved in a conceptual approach to the further development of photographic practice. He is considered a key figure of the so-called "Vancouver School," whose representatives renewed photography as a means and form of expression through a conceptual approach. With his own artistic work and through his dedicated teaching activities over many years, he influenced an entire generation of Canadian artists, including Jeff Wall, Rodney Graham, Ken Lum and Stan Douglas. Wallace himself considers his activities as an artist, art historian, and critic to be different aspects of one practice. Accordingly, his work is characterized by a high degree of reflexivity. Central to this is the investigation of various means of representation. Beginning in the mid-1980s, Wallace developed a characteristic pictorial form: he combined photography and painting and explored the relationship between the means of expression. In an intensive examination of film and literature, he laminated documentary or staged photographs onto canvas, where they entered into a dialogue with fields of monochrome painting. In this way he confrontes abstraction and representation. Wallace combines the two fundamental strategies of 20th century art: the self-reflexive aesthetics of modernist painting, which makes the flatness of the canvas the central moment, thus directing the viewer's attention to the specific properties of the medium, and - through the use of photography - the opening of art to the content of everyday reality and questions of representation.
In his self-reflexive investigations of the role of artists, Wallace questions the meaning and valuation of intellectual labor in relation to the physical-material side of artistic production. Additionally, Wallace is concerned with specific sites, such as galleries and museums, as well as urban space.