The Malcolmson Collection

Curated by: Helga Pakasaar

Presentation House Gallery is pleased to announce the premiere of the first public gallery exhibition from the Malcolmson Collection. Over the past twenty-five years Ann and Harry Malcolmson, who live in Toronto, have assembled a rare collection of vintage and historic photographs that span the history of the medium. After a long period of collecting contemporary art, they acquired Alfred Steiglitz's famous 1907 image, The Steerage, and now have over two hundred photographs. "Once involved, we didn't collect photography, it collected us," they have said. Initially drawn to early twentieth-century experimental photography, they began to focus on the beginnings of the medium in the mid nineteenth-century before expanding to embrace classic modernist and contemporary photography. This exhibition offers a rare opportunity to witness the visionary scholarship, intuitions and passions that have gone into building one of Canada's most extraordinary art collections.

The exhibition features iconic as well as lesser known photographs, revealing the Malcolmson's affection for enigmatic images and experimental approaches to the medium. Highlights include nineteenth and twentieth-century classics by famous photographers Eugene Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron, Charles Marville, Tina Modotti, Man Ray, Paul Strand, Edward Weston, Margaret Bourke-White, among others. The beginnings of photography are marked by Fox Talbot and Hill & Adamson salt prints from paper negatives of the mid-1840s. Twenty-first century photography is represented by several of Vancouver's most notable contemporary artists, drawing links between the earliest innovations in the medium to those of today. The early twentieth-century images of Alexander Rodchenko, Jaromir Funke and Vancouver's John Vanderpant, Canada's major art photographer, points to the Malcolmson's strong interest in abstraction. The exhibition reveals how developments in camera and printing technologies impacted the birth of "the new vision" and the mysterious qualities of photography as an act of recording light. The unique character of each vintage print emphasizes the very materiality of photographs-their physical surfaces, the patinas of aging and accidents of chemicals interacting with paper. This exhibition brings such rare photographs to Vancouver for the first time.

The exhibition is generously sponsored by Helen and John O'Brian.

Gallery Press Release
Media Coverage

Saturday, October 3rd, 6:00 pm | Opening Reception

Sunday, October 4, 2:00 pm | Ann and Harry Malcolmson discuss their photography collection.

Saturday, October 17, 2:00 pm | Artist Ian Wallace tours the exhibition.

Saturday, November 28, 2:00 pm | “Shadow and Substance”
Distinguished photography historian Grant Romer talks on the importance of materials, process and condition in fine art photography.


Man Ray, Ady, c. 1930, gelatin silver print
Man Ray, Ady, c. 1930, gelatin silver print

Connections, meanings, and challenges.

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