Suzy Lake

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Suzy Lake
Suzy Lake.JPG
Suzy Lake outside the Galerie Donald Browne, Montreal, before her 2011 exhibition Reduced Performing
Born (1947-06-24) June 24, 1947 (age 70)
United States
Education Wayne State University, Concordia University
Known for Photography, conceptual art

Suzy Lake (born June 24, 1947) is an American-Canadian artist based in Toronto, Canada, known for her work as a photographer, performance artist and video maker.[1] Using a range of media Lake explores topics including identity, beauty, gender and aging.


Lake was born June 24, 1947 in Detroit, Michigan.[2] She began her fine art studies at Wayne State University and Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan from 1965-1968.[3] During this period she became involved with the anti-war and civil rights movements of the 1960s.[4] She also witnessed the Detroit Race Riots of 1967.[4] Soon after in 1968, Lake immigrated to Canada with her husband to escape the Vietnam War draft.[5]

Lake completed a Master of Fine Arts degree at Concordia University in 1980.[6]

Art Practice[edit]

Using costumes, make-up and props, Lake creates self-portraits for the camera, often by assuming new identities. Her adopted personas highlight the possibilities for deception involved in posing for the camera. An example is "Suzy Lake As Patty Hearst", a project Lake made in collaboration with Bill Jones, featuring the artist as the eponymous Hearst[7]

Early Work[edit]

Lake moved to Montreal, and lived there for about ten years.[8] Lake taught at the Montreal Museum School (1969–1978) and was mentored by the minimalist artist, Guido Molinari. She was active in the early conceptualist art scene in that city. In 1971, Lake became a co-founder, along with twelve other artists, of the artist-run gallery Véhicule Art Inc.[2][9] Lake's work during this period was influenced by fellow "camera artists" in Véhicule (including Les Levine) who were using the camera to represent an idea as opposed to documenting reality.[5] This was also a period when Lake began concentrate on the subject of identity in her artworks. In her series of photographs entitled A One Hour (Zero) Conversation with Allan B. made in 1973, she becomes the subject as a camera records her expression at various intervals of a candid conversation with a friend.[10] To emphasize her gestures, Lake used white make-up to cover her face.[10] She then invited her friends and family to circle the photographs in the series most represented her personality.

In an interview in Magenta magazine, Lake noted the influence of the political climate of the 1970s on her work, saying: “I know that I am a feminist, but I can see that my politics originated in human rights issues, civil rights, the FLQ in Quebec and race issues in the States.”[11] Roberta Smith of the New York Times compared her work to that of Cindy Sherman;[12] in the 1970s, the two artists were contemporaries. In 1975 Lake was invited by Sherman to exhibit in a Hallwalls show.[13] Today, Lake continues to make work about the body focusing on issues of ageing, and exhibiting her work worldwide.

Major Exhibitions[edit]

Suzy Lake was the subject of a comprehensive exhibition, Introducing Suzy Lake, at the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014-15.[14][15][16]


Lake is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts.[17] In 2016, she was recipient of Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts.[18] and the Scotiabank Photography Award[19]

Gallery representation[edit]

She has been represented by Galerie Gilles Gheerbrant (1974–1977); Jared Sable Gallery (1976–1990), and Paul Petro Contemporary Art (1995 – 2012). Lake is currently represented by Georgia Scherman Projects, Toronto (2012 - ); Solway Jones Gallery, Los Angeles (2009 – ); Galerie Donald Browne, Montreal (2010 - ).



  • Suzy Lake: Concealment/Revealment, (2006), Hallwalls Gallery, Buffalo, N.Y.
  • Attitudes et comportements, curator Jocelyn Fortin, Suzy Lake (2002) ISBN TR647 L35 2002
  • Suzy Lake: Points of Reference by Martha Hanna (1993) ISBN 0-88884-564-2, ISBN 978-0-88884-564-1
  • Suzy Lake: authority is an attribute, part II (1992) ISBN 0-920810-48-9, ISBN 978-0-920810-48-4
  • Suzy Lake: are you talking to me? (1980) OCLC: N6545 V353
  • For Suzy Lake, Chris Knudsen, and Robert Walker (1978) OCLC: 83615339
  • Suzy Lake (1975) ISBN 0-919890-02-4

Selected books/journals[edit]

Selected exhibitions[edit]

  • Suzy Lake: Political Poetics, University of Toronto Art Centre[20]
  • Donna: Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970s, from Sammlung Verbund, Vienna Galleria nazionale d'arte moderna, Rome[21]
  • Traffic: Conceptual Art in Canada, 1965-1980, Art Gallery of Alberta, Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, University of Toronto and the Vancouver Art Gallery[22]
  • Identity Theft: Eleanor Antin, Lynn Hershman and Suzy Lake, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA[23]
  • WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution 1965–1980, Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art/Geffen Contemporary, LA; National Museum of Women in Art, DC[24]
  • Faking Death: Canadian Art Photography and the Canadian Imagination, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
  • The Unseen Cindy Sherman: Early Transformations (1975-1976), Montclair Art Museum; Montclair, New Jersey[25]

Selected public collections[edit]

  • Sammlung Verbund, Vienna
  • Musee d'Art Contemporain, Montreal
  • Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton
  • Musee du Quebec, Quebec City
  • Winnipeg Art Gallery, Winnipeg
  • Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge
  • Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
  • Glenbow Art Gallery, Calgary
  • Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography, Ottawa
  • Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Montreal
  • Museum Lodz, Poland
  • Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto
  • Albright Knox Museum, Buffalo

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Suzy Lake". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  2. ^ a b ["Suzy Lake", in Contemporary Canadian Artists, Gale Canada, 1997, editor Roger Matuz
  3. ^ Hanna, Martha (1993). Suzy Lake: Point of Reference. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. p. 1. ISBN 0-88884-564-2. 
  4. ^ a b "Suzy Lake". Ryerson University, School of Image Arts. 2000-01-28. Retrieved 2013-04-26. 
  5. ^ a b WACK! Art and the Feminist Revolution. Los Angeles, California: The MIT Press. 2007. p. 258. ISBN 0914357999. 
  6. ^ "Suzy Lake: Studio Art". School of fine Arts And Music. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  7. ^ Karen White (1947-06-14). "Suzy Lake". The Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  8. ^ Reid, Robert, "Immersing herself in the work"]. Kitchener Waterloo Record, 13 February 1999 (clipping - page number needed.
  9. ^ "P027 – Véhicule Art (Montréal) Inc. fonds | Concordia University Archives". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  10. ^ a b Hanna, Martha (1993). Suzy Lake: Point of Reference. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Museum of Contemporary Photography. p. 6. ISBN 0-88884-564-2. 
  11. ^ "Suzy Lake: Renaissance Woman". Magenta Magazine. 2010-11-29. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  12. ^ "Art in Review", THE NEW YORK TIMES, Roberta Smith, February 3, 2006
  13. ^ Gaasch, Cynnie (2006-01-19). "When Everything Old is New Again: Suzy Lake at Hallwalls". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  14. ^ Uhlyarik, Georgiana, ed. (2014). Introducing Suzy Lake. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario. ISBN 9781908966735. 
  15. ^ Everett-Green, Robert. "Suzy Lake AGO retrospective follows artist’s diverse, four-decade-long career". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  16. ^ Chase, Alisia. "Exhibition review: Introducing Suzy Lake". Afterimage. Retrieved 8 March 2016. 
  17. ^ "Members since 1880". Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  18. ^ "The Canada Council for the Arts - Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts". Retrieved 2016-03-07. 
  19. ^ Scotiabank Photography Award,,6336,00.html
  20. ^ "Suzy Lake: Political Poetics". 2011-06-25. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  21. ^ "DONNA: FEMINIST AVANT-GARDE OF THE 1970s". e-flux. 2010-03-01. Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  22. ^ "Justina M. Barnicke Gallery: Traffic | Hart House — University of Toronto". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  23. ^ "identity theft: eleanor antin, lynn hershman, suzy lake, 1972-1978". Retrieved 2012-08-05. 
  24. ^
  25. ^ "The Unseen Cindy Sherman: Early Transformations (1975-1976)". 2004-08-01. Retrieved 2012-08-05.