The Paris of the Prairies gets its Louvre with the opening of Saskatoon’s Remai Modern
The Remai Modern puts Saskatoon on the art map. Really, though.
WHAT’S THE BEST city in Canada for modern art? As of October 21, the answer is unequivocally Saskatoon. No, seriously. That’s thanks to the Remai Modern, a boxy new prairie landmark filled to the brim with Picasso linocuts — 405 of them, to be exact — and aspiring to be the world’s top destination for 21st-century Indigenous art.
The facility is a successor to the Mendel Art Gallery, a popular local institution that outgrew its 1960s-era digs. While a replacement building was initially planned simply to make more room for the Mendel’s 7,000-plus works, a vision developed for something far bolder. Local philanthropist Ellen Remai was excited, donating the Picassos, the cash, and the name that would support that grand ambition. Executive director and CEO Gregory Burke, a New Zealand–born curator who got his start as a video artist before helming Toronto’s Power Plant Gallery in the mid-2000s, was equally enthusiastic. Burke sees in Saskatoon’s burgeoning creative scene an appetite for the sort of cutting-edge fare that will secure his 130,000-squarefoot institution a spot on the global radar. Sure enough, one of the guiding questions behind his opening exhibition is “What is urgent and why?” And the answer may very well be “Saskatoon.”