The Canada Council Art Bank holds the world’s largest collection of the contemporary Canadian art. It includes 17,000+ paintings, prints, photographs and sculptures by over 3,000 emerging and established artists, including those from Indigenous and culturally diverse backgrounds.
The Art Bank collection data is available for researchers, students media or anyone interested in Canadian contemporary art. Download the open data in Excel (includes methodology) or CSV format. Sharing information is directly in line with the Government of Canada’s initiative to work with the national and international open government community.
Artist Spotlight /
Follow our Artist Spotlight blogs to learn more about the artists from Canada in the collection who have made significant contributions to the contemporary art scene from the 1960s to today.
Operating Guidelines /
/ 1. Suitability
The Art Bank inventory is a “working collection.” Artworks are purchased to be rented by government and private sector clients for their offices and boardrooms.
/ 2. Equitability
On April 1, 2001, the Art Bank began its operations under new operating guidelines.
The Art Bank will keep artists informed of any changes in the status of their artworks. Accordingly, artists will be advised if their artwork is lost, stolen, damaged beyond repair or donated to a public collecting institution (as outlined in section 3A). If a work is damaged in a way that affects its integrity, the Art Bank will seek the artist’s advice and permission before restoring the work. If, after assessment by a conservator and consultation with the artist, the work is deemed “damaged beyond repair,” the artist will be entitled to have the work returned at his/her expense, or destroyed by the technical staff of the Art Bank.
There is no longer an option for artists to repurchase their work from the Art Bank.
/ 3. Renewal of the Inventory
The renewal of the Art Bank includes both divesting the Art Bank of works that have never rented and purchasing new work required to meet client needs. The objective is to create an inventory of works that will make it possible for the Art Bank to achieve its goal of a break-even budget.
A. Divestment of Art Bank Assets
In November 1999, the Board of the Canada Council approved a policy that would represent a 16% reduction in the assets of the Art Bank. The reduction in inventory is specifically for works that have rarely or never been rented, works that contain moveable parts, dangerous or fragile materials, dated electronic parts, or works that are of a size that cannot logically be rented to an office environment. The reduction may also include multiples and videos and film that cannot be shown.
Artworks selected with these criteria will be reviewed by the Art Bank staff and considered for divestment. The aim of this process is to ensure that major works by Canadian artists are appropriately placed in institutions better able to exhibit and care for them in all respects. Works divested remain subject to Canadian Copyright Law.
B. New Purchases
When funds are available, the Art Bank will announce a purchase deadline on the Canada Council Art Bank website.
Artists and dealers will be invited to submit one digital image per artist of a work created within the previous five years, with the documentation requested on the submission form.
The Art Bank Acquisition Committee, consisting of artists and members of the visual arts community (curator, director or dealer) will meet to select the work for purchase. In order to avoid possible conflicts of interest, the Art Bank Acquisition Committee will adhere to the Canada Council Peer Review Recommendations.
Selections will be based on need and suitability for a "working collection”.
C. Conditions of Purchase
Artwork is purchased in order to be rented to Art Bank clients.
Requests for the use of images of artworks in the Art Bank collection will be forwarded to the artist and/or their representative(s) for their consideration.
The Art Bank will be able to divest its inventory of works on a case-by-case basis. Works will either be gifted to a public collecting institution or returned to the artist if deemed “damaged beyond repair”.
The Art Bank retains the right to have minor repairs, cleaning, etc. done by conservation specialists. In cases where the integrity of the work may be undermined, the artist will be asked to either repair the work or approve the work to be done by Art Bank professional staff.
The Canada Council Art Bank’s Purchase Program supports living Canadian artists and emergent artistic practices by acquiring outstanding contemporary works of art from all regions of the country. Acquired artworks are rented to Art Bank clients and given increased opportunities for exhibition, loan and public visibility. Acquisitions ensure the relevance of the collection over time and respond to the strategic priorities of the Canada Council and evolving client needs.
When funds are available, the Art Bank purchases artworks for its collection through an open call to artists across Canada. The works are purchased based on recommendations by a peer assessment committee made up of artists, art administrators, and curators, from across the country.
Details of 2022 Call for Purchase
The artworks are selected based on the availability of funds and the assessment criteria outlined in the established guidelines.
For the 2022 call for purchases, the Art Bank will prioritize the acquisition of artworks by artists who self-identify as Indigenous, Black, racialized, Deaf or having a disability, from official language minority communities, youth, 2SLGBTQ, gender-diverse and women, including artists at the intersections of these identities. In addition, we will prioritize acquisitions of artworks by artists who are not currently in the Art Bank collection.
The artworks must be created within the last five years, by living Canadian artists or permanent residents of Canada. Submissions must be made directly by the artist or the artist’s representative to the Art Bank.
The 2022 Call for Purchase is now closed. An announcement will be made in January 2023, once all applicants have been notified of their results. The timing of the next Art Bank Purchase Program has not yet been confirmed.
- For more information about the 2022 call for purchases, read the Guidelines and download the Declaration and Application forms
- For questions about the purchase program, email the Art Bank team
If you would like to stay informed about this latest Art Bank 2022 Call for Purchases and other Art Bank news and activities, please subscribe to our bulletin.