Nude Ascending

INSTEAD of slowing down, the 83-year-old artist takes the greatest risks of his career while celebrating new horizons of the contemporary woman—ascending! This exhibition covers Drapell's work of the last fifteen years, the period from 2008 to 2023. In the 39 works exhibited on both floors, we can trace Drapell's artistic conversation with Duchamp, Picasso, all the way to Rothko and Olitski. Matthew Kyba wrote ground-breaking essays about this period of Drapell's work in the book Nude Ascending which will be launched during the opening.

OPENED: April 29, 2023

New New  in Canada

This experimental installation of our NNP holdings includes new acquisitions by two Canadian artists: Jeremy Down and Carlo Amantea. They double the number of the original Canadian contributors (Graham Peacock and Joseph Drapell) to the U.S. artists: Lucy Baker, Steven Brent, John Gittins, Roy Lerner, Anne Low, Marjorie Minkin, Irene Neal, Bruce Piermarini, and Jerald Webster.

OPENED: December 3, 2022

Joseph Drapell

The artist used to paint in his messed-up corduroy pants and got the idea to paint several works on corduroy (one is included in this exhibition). Later he cut notches in his spreading devices. He was able to explore the depth and densities of paint layers, which translated into a rich territory of transparencies and opacities, increasing the feeling-content of his work.

This exhibition covers the evolution of the STRIATIONS period, from 1983 to the present. Drapell found a flexible vehicle for his abstraction that in the course of four decades morphed into new versions of his abstraction/depiction. The works in this exhibition are not for sale.

OPENED: September 21, 2019

Joseph Drapell

This is the second installment of the "ORIGIN" installation, which includes the new Essence Quartet and a number of works unseen previously. The iconic images of the last five decades originated in Georgian Bay. This Canadian treasure became the spiritual home for artist Joseph Drapell after his first visit to Manitou Dock in 1970. The experience of the islands there influenced all the different phases of his abstraction, as documented in this survey (catalog - Exhibition Guide -commentary by Anna Maclachlan, compiled from numerous conversations with the artist.)

OPENED: June 1, 2019

Joseph Drapell

The iconic images of the last five decades originated in Georgian Bay. This Canadian treasure became the spiritual home for artist Joseph Drapell after his first visit to Manitou Dock in 1970. The view of the infinite horizon influenced all the different phases of his abstraction to date, as documented in this retrospective. (Catalog-guide commentary by Anna Maclachlan was compiled from numerous conversations with the artist.)

OPENED: November 3, 2018

Carlo Amantea (on the ground floor)

Carlo Amantea's masterful exhibition proves that the art of painting is alive, especially when pursued as a passionate quest, as a journey without commercial pressures. Amantea employs a sophisticated technique and conceptual strategies reflecting his long study of el Greco, Matisse, Colour Field, and New New. Particularly striking is Amantea's very distinct feeling for colour and his overwhelming sense of freedom we know from the art of Hans Hofmann.

Joseph Drapell (on the second floor)

After his quartet "Seasons I" was acquired by the National Gallery in Prague, Joseph Drapell painted this smaller group, "Toronto Seasons 2003". These four paintings are 15 feet wide (the works of the first quartet were 22 feet wide). Due to their size, this is only the second opportunity to view them all. This quartet was first launched fifteen years ago with a concert by the late Jacques Israelievitch and his TSO friends.

both shows OPENED: September 22, 2018

Joseph Drapell

This exhibition included the most recent paintings of 2017-18 when Drapell returned to pure abstraction.

Also available were two catalogs: hardcover 12x12” and softcover 10x8”

OPENED: May 12, 2018

Jonathan Dunkelman and Jeremy Down

OPENED: October 13, 2017

From their first exhibition in 1991 followed by a grand opening in Paris the following year and many subsequent international showings, the New New Painters have been confounding the art world for the past twenty-five years.

This show featured new acquisitions and selections from the museum's permanent collection.

OPENED: April 8, 2017

Click here to view the opening invite.

film and exhibition sponsors:

Four Kazak rugs from the collection of Joseph Drapell and Anna Maclachlan

These Antique Caucasian Kazak rugs (some 160 years old) were collected for their exquisite design qualities from the renowned Toronto antique dealer, Mr. Aliman, in the early 1980s. (Drapell drew inspiration from them for his ongoing large series of hexagonal paintings.) The luscious silky wool was dyed exclusively with vegetable dyes. The vibrant colours and unique ornamentation represent an undisputable domain of creativity by female weavers, perhaps the only freedom available to them in the nomadic society of their time. These textiles offer an inside look into the life of religious restriction: representation of reality was taboo. The resulting ancient designs nevertheless developed into highly abstracted patterns of male and female union, birth, and ideas such as the tree of life, wine leaf & cup, etc. These rugs were made for tribal use as prayer carpets or tent decoration. The deliberate colour variations (abrash) and frequent "imperfections" betray the innovative freedom and inspiration, not present in most other Persian carpets favored for decorating bourgeois homes.

Also on view is a selection of paintings from the Museum's collection

OPENED: Saturday, December 12, 2015

Jeremy Down

OPENED: October 1, 2015

Janet Heath

OPENED: May 2, 2015

Jeremy Down

This was Jeremy Down’s third exhibition at the Museum

OPENED: November 6, 2014

The duty of an artist is to be free of fashions of the art world. The only thing that matters is his/her inner voice, it is to walk upon a swaying tightrope.

OPENED: May 3, 2014

Joseph Drapell

Museum Main Space - May 25 to June 29, 2013

The Museum of New thanks its six interns for organizing this exhibition in the absence of the artist (due to illness). Curated by Morgan Copeman with the assistance of Shellie Zhong, Rachelle Sabourin, Olga Klosowski, Melissa de Sousa, and Olivia Appiah-Kubi, the exhibition is accompanied by a new essay “The Quiet Revolutionary: The Unsettling Innovations of Joseph Drapell” by Dr. Kenneth Carpenter, York University.

This new series explores archetypal imagery that evokes land, air, water, and such. Influenced by astronomy and the New New esthetics, these landmark paintings reveal an exciting and controversial new phase in Drapell’s oeuvre.

Museum Second Floor

To contrast the new work with his “classic” paintings, the curator, Morgan Copeman, installed a selection of works in the second floor space from 1973 on including the first of Drapell’s Quartets titled “The Birth of the World” (1976 – 1992). This quartet has never been exhibited due to the size of the works.

Canada's internationally respected artist, Joseph Drapell, has works in the Guggenheim New York, the Museum of Modern Art, Vienna, the National Gallery, Prague, the British Museum, London, and the Museum of Fine Art, Boston among others.


October/November 2012

During the last two decades, Lumír Hladík has waded into an unusual stream of influences: paleontology, museology, anatomy and most important of all, the Canadian wilderness. His main inspiration is, however “the irrationality of the human mind”. Lumír states that “we”, “rational” humans, claimed to have moved beyond our animal core. But often, what we call rational is our justification of outright irrational behaviour with a rational argument.

August 2010

An exhibition organized by University of Toronto in conjunction with Deakin University and the University of Melbourne, Australia. Australian artists were represented by John Forrest (Visual Arts, Deakin University), Dr. Deborah Walker (Visual Arts, Deakin University), and Terry Matassoni. Canada was represented by Joseph Drapell, Lumir Hladik, and Jiri Malik.


October 2009

Drapell’s collection of nomadic Kazaks carpets inspired a whole series of hexagonal canvases. These hexagonal shapes are a frequent motif in the amazing designs created by female weavers hundreds of years ago. From 1989 to 2009 Drapell pursued this direction; alternating abstract and landscape motifs.

Joseph Drapell is a Czech born/U.S. educated artist who adopted the Island B-109 as his spiritual home. All mature directions in his art can be traced to that area in Georgian Bay which he considers a Canadian Treasure. Drapell lives and works in Toronto.

March 2006

A symposium with the Art Gallery of Ontario examining the artistic roots of Colour Field and of the current art scene.

The Panel:
Dr. David Moos, Curator of Contemporary Art, AGO
Robert Linsley, Artist and Professor, University of Waterloo
Graham Peacock, Artist and Professor, University of Alberta
Joseph Drapell, Artist, Organizer and Moderator

Joseph Drapell also recorded and produced a DVD of the event. The program contains two sections: a historical record of the Symposium (2 hours), and Drapell’s film essay (30 minutes), which concludes with the following finding: “everyone wants to be avant-garde today, but it no longer means resistance, it has come to mean CONFORMITY.”

2006 and 2003

Bruce Piermarini is a New New innovator in bas-relief works of high chroma. He belongs to the tradition of large scale abstract painting with assertive colour. The thick paint of his canvases often projects more than 12 inches into the room. Piermarini lives and works near Boston.

2005 and 2003

Solo show of the UK born leading innovator, who always determines the outside edges of his works after the paint has dried. A construction is built and the canvas is stretched over foam padding. Peacock lives and works in Edmonton. Recently retired, Graham Peacock was a Professor of Art at the University of Alberta.


The tondo format allows Webster to pursue the poetry of colour in which he excels. Webster is a graduate of Syracuse University, Triangle Workshop and has been exhibitting with the New New Painters since 1990. He lives and works in New York State.



Drapell often paints very large works, such as the Prague Seasons, which were 22 feet wide. The works of the Toronto Quartet are all 15 feet wide, and are a testament of his artistic achievement to date: each of the four panels is an unique image, without precedent in his oeuvre. The common element in all four are the star fields of our galaxy, which the artists observes in his astronomical telescopes. Joseph Drapell was influenced by Pollock, Newman, Louis, Hofmann and Bush, although any of these artistic roots are not visible in his mature work after 1973. He lives and works in Toronto.



In the weeks after 9/11, Drapell found a way to paint out his anguish of the New York’s tragedy. He said the following about serious themes in art: “art I admire is always sublimated into a higher plateau; it is never a poster-like creation. That’s what the big themes (like the Holocaust or 9/11) need.” The installation consisted of three parts: the main work is a diptych (each panel being the size of Velazquez’ Las Meninas). It was placed on the main wall of the gallery surrounded by two smaller diptychs: Benevolence on the left and Ancient and Hallowed on the right. (This photograph shows a later installation of the work alone in a different location.) The diagonal “rays” on the large diptych are grooved, evoking the surface of the destroyed towers. The black fields contain countless holographic pinpoints of colour, resembling star fields of our galaxy.