Fall 2023 Exhibitions are Open!

Phyllida Barlow

Eleven Columns

September 7, 2023
— February 4, 2024

For more than six decades, British artist Phyllida Barlow took inspiration from her surroundings to create imposing installations that can be at once menacing and playful. She created anti-monumental sculptures from inexpensive, low-grade materials such as cardboard, fabric, plywood, polystyrene, scrim, and cement. These constructions were often painted in industrial or vibrant colours, the seams of their construction left at times visible, revealing the means of their making.

Barlow passed away in early 2023, at which point she was working closely with MOCA on a site-specific installation. Having visited the building some years earlier, Barlow was taken by its industrial vigour and, in particular, the arresting columns paced throughout the museum’s Ground Floor.

This exhibition brings together select works that Barlow had referenced in discussion with the team and acknowledges her fascination with the museum’s distinct architecture with the inclusion of, untitled: eleven columns; standing, fallen, broken, 2011Additionally, a collection of works on paper, an integral part of her practice, shares with visitors a small but varied archive of Barlow’s broader work with invented forms, use of materials, and colour.

About the Artist

Phyllida Barlow was born in 1944 in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. She died in London in March 2023.

Barlow exhibited extensively across institutions internationally, including: Public Art Fund, New York (2023); Chillida Leku, Hernani (2023); Sprengel Museum, Hanover (2022); ARTIST ROOMS, Tate Modern, London (2021); Haus der Kunst, Munich (2021); The Royal Academy of Arts, London (2019); La Biennale di Venezia, British Pavilion, Venice (2017); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich (2016); Nasher Scupture Center, Dallas (2015); Duveen Commission at Tate Britain, London (2014); as well as in many group shows.

Barlow studied at Chelsea College of Art (1960–1963) and the Slade School of Art (1963–1966). In 1988, Barlow joined the staff at the Slade School of Art where she taught for more than 20 years before retiring in 2009, remaining as Emerita Professor of Art.

In 2011, Barlow became a Royal Academician, and in 2015 she was made a CBE for her services to the arts in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours, followed by a DBE appointment in 2021. In 2012, Barlow received the Aachen Art Prize and ‘Award for the Most Significant Contribution to the Development of Contemporary Art’ at The First International Kiev Biennale, Kiev, Ukraine. In 2019, Barlow was honored with the Maria Anto & Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven Art Prize for Women Artists, Warsaw, Poland, and in 2022 she was awarded the Niedersächsische Sparkassenstiftung’s Kurt Schwitters Prize.

MOCA Visionaries

Gilles and Julia Ouellette

The Price Family


Foundational Partner
Director's Council

Poile Family Foundation

Curator’s Circle

Michael Bertrand

Diana Billes

Hesty Leibtag and Terry Verk

Nuyten Dime Foundation

Zeidler Architecture

Phyllida Barlow, untitled: eleven columns; standing, fallen, broken, 2011. Filler, PVA, paint, plywood, sand, spray paint, timber. Installation view, Eleven Columns at MOCA Toronto © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy Hauser & Wirth. Photo by Laura Findlay.

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