Ydessa Hendeles

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Ydessa Hendeles
Ydessa Hendeles.jpg
Ydessa Hendeles
BornDecember 27, 1948[1]
Marburg, Germany
Known forArtist

Ydessa Hendeles, C.M., O.Ont., PhD, Dr. phil. (Hon.), LL.D. (Hon.), D.F.A. (Hon.), A.O.C.A.D., D.T.A.T.I. (born 1948 in Germany) is a Canadian artist-curator and philanthropist.[2] She is also the director of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto, Canada.[3]

A graduate of the University of Toronto, the New School of Art and the Toronto Art Therapy Institute, Hendeles earned her PhD, cum laude, from the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis at the University of Amsterdam. In 2009, Hendeles donated 32 works of International and Canadian contemporary art to the Art Gallery of Ontario. This donation represented the most significant single gift of contemporary art in the gallery's history.[4]


The Ydessa Gallery[edit]

In 1980, Hendeles established The Ydessa Gallery in Toronto, a commercial space devoted to the presentation of Canadian contemporary art.[3] The gallery represented such artists as Kim Adams, Shelagh Alexander, Tony Brown, FASTWÜRMS, Andreas Gehr, Rodney Graham, Noel Harding, Nancy Johnson, Ken Lum, Liz Magor, John Massey, John McEwen, Peter Hill, Sandra Meigs, Jana Sterbak, Jeff Wall and Krzysztof Wodiczko.[5] Hendeles closed The Ydessa Gallery in 1988.

Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation[edit]

In October 1987, Hendeles announced that she would establish a nonprofit art foundation and that she purchased a two-storey building located at 778 King Street West in downtown Toronto as the future site of the foundation's exhibition programme.[6] In November 1988, after extensive renovations, the 14,000-square-foot former uniforms factory became home of the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Canada's first privately supported contemporary-art exhibition space.[7]

Hendeles launched her exhibition programme in December 1987 with Katharina Fritsch: Madonna of Lourdes, presented at the Toronto Eaton Centre (the city's most popular shopping mall). For the week leading up to Christmas, Hendeles installed Fritsch's sculpture of a small Madonna icon statue, enlarged to adult-size and rendered in bright yellow-painted Duroplast, in the middle of the pedestrian mall at the peak of its busiest shopping season. Hendeles positioned the sculpture so that it could be viewed against the background of the Church of the Holy Trinity, a historic Anglican Church around which the western side of the Toronto Eaton Centre was built.[8]

The Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation was formally established in 1988 with a mandate to provide a programme of contemporary-art exhibitions from a developing collection.[9] In November 1988, the gallery space opened its inaugural show Christian Boltanski, a five-gallery exhibition of the French artist's work, including the site-specific commission Canada (1988).[10]

In the book Private Spaces for Contemporary Art (2010), Peter Doroshenko described the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation as functioning "more like an intellectual visual arts laboratory than an art centre or private collection space," and declared the Foundation's gallery "one of the most important contemporary spaces in North America."[11]

Over a span of 25 years Hendeles curated more than 30 exhibitions at the Toronto space. Though the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation closed its gallery doors in 2012, it continues to function as a nonprofit organization but now, as Hendeles stated, "without walls."[12][13]


In 2003, Hendeles guest-curated Partners, a 16-gallery exhibition for the Haus der Kunst, Munich, at the invitation of then-incoming director Chris Dercon and the new chief curator, Thomas Weski. For Partners Hendeles combined work by Diane Arbus, Maurizio Cattelan, James Coleman, Hanne Darboven, Walker Evans, Luciano Fabro, On Kawara, Paul McCarthy, Bruce Nauman, Giulio Paolini, Jeff Wall and Lawrence Weiner, together with series of photojournalistic images, anonymous vernacular photographs and antique vernacular objects.[14] This exhibition also included Hendeles's own work Partners (The Teddy Bear Project), 2002, a large-scale installation built around an archive of family-album photographs, each including the image of a teddy bear (see external link below).[15]

Partners (The Teddy Bear Project) was first shown in the group exhibition sameDIFFERENCE at the Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation in Toronto (2002). It was expanded as a two-gallery installation for Partners at Munich's Haus der Kunst (2003), then remounted in Noah's Ark by the National Gallery of Canada (2004)[16] and 10,000 Lives, the 2010 Gwangju Biennale, South Korea.[17] It was exhibited again in 2016 at New York's New Museum in The Keeper, a group show curated by Massimiliano Gioni.[18]

Other exhibitions include Marburg! The Early Bird! at the Marburger Kunstverein (de), Germany (2010);[19] The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project) at Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York (2011);[20] and THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW at Galerie Johann König, Berlin (2012).[21] Her work From her wooden sleep... (2013) was shown at the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London, UK in 2015, curated by Philip Larratt-Smith (see external link below).[22] In 2016, Hendeles expanded and augmented From her wooden sleep… specifically for the Helena Rubinstein Pavilion for Contemporary Art at the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Israel, curated by Suzanne Landau.[23]

Hendeles is represented by Barbara Edwards Contemporary, Toronto. Her first exhibition for the gallery, Death to Pigs was presented in the fall of 2016.[24] An exhibition catalogue for Death to Pigs was published in 2018.

In the summer of 2017, Hendeles's exhibition The Milliner's Daughter was shown at Toronto's The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, curated by Gaëtane Verna. This was the first major survey of Hendeles's work in a public museum.[25]

In February 2018, the Kunsthalle Wien mounted Death to Pigs, the first institutional retrospective of Hendeles's work in Europe. Spread over both floors of the Kunsthalle, the exhibition includes work by the artist drawn from the past decade. Curated by Nicolaus Schafhausen (Director, Kunsthalle Wien), Death to Pigs will be on view until May 27, 2018.[26]

Awards and Recognition[edit]

Hendeles was inducted as a Member into the Order of Canada in 2004[27] and the Order of Ontario in 1998.[28] She received a Governor General's Award in 2002 for "Outstanding Contribution in the Visual and Media Arts."[29] She was awarded a Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal in 2002 and a Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2012.[30]

Hendeles received an Honorary Doctorate of Fine Art (D.F.A. h.c.) from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design in 1996,[31] an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D. h.c.) from the University of Toronto in 2000[32] and an Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Dr. phil. h.c.) from Philipps-Universität Marburg in 2017.[33] She was named an Honorary Fellow of the Ontario College of Art and Design (now OCAD University) in 1998[34] and received an "Award of Distinction" from the Faculty of Fine Arts of Concordia University, Montreal in 2009.[35]

Hendeles received the 2004 "Founders Achievement Award," presented by the Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts[36] and the 2003 "Award of Distinction," from the Toronto International Art Fair (now Art Toronto).[37] In 2007, she was named a Life Member of Art Metropole, Toronto.[38]

The Ontario Association of Art Galleries (OAAG) has honoured Hendeles's exhibitions with multiple awards including "Exhibition of the Year" for Marburg! The Early Bird! in 2011[39] and sameDIFFERENCE (which also received an OAAG award for "Best Exhibition Installation and Design") in 2003[40] and "Special Recognition Award" for the exhibitions Dead! Dead! Dead! in 2008[41] and Predators & Prey in 2007.[42] Hendeles also received the first "Award for Outstanding Achievement" from OAAG in 1998.[43] In 2017, her artist's book, From her wooden sleep..., received OAAG's "Art Publication Award".[44]

In 2003, The Globe and Mail, Canada's national newspaper chose Hendeles as its "Artist of the Year."[45]


  • Partners, edited by Chris Dercon and Thomas Weski (Haus der Kunst, Munich and Buchhandlung Walther König, Cologne), 2003 (ISBN 3-88375-755-1)
  • Predators & Prey. Notes (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2006
  • The Tragical Comedy or Comical Tragedy of Punch & Judy (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2007
  • Marburg! The Early Bird! Notes at an Exhibition (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2010
  • The Wedding (The Walker Evans Polaroid Project). Notes (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2011
  • THE BIRD THAT MADE THE BREEZE TO BLOW. Notes (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2012
  • From her wooden sleep... Notes at an Exhibition (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2015
  • From her wooden sleep... (Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv), 2016 (ISBN 978-965539-132-9)
  • Death to Pigs. Notes (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2016
  • From her wooden sleep... (Hatje Cantz, Ostfildern), 2016 (ISBN 978-3-7757-4103-3)[46]
  • Death to Pigs (Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, Toronto), 2018 (ISBN 978-0-9940776-1-5)


  1. ^ Amaral, Rui. "The Author as Autoethnographer" (PDF). open research.
  2. ^ "Art Gallery of Ontario".
  3. ^ a b "The Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts 2002". canadacouncil.ca.
  4. ^ "Dr. Ydessa Hendeles Makes AGO History with Contemporary Art Donation". Ago.net. Art Gallery of Ontario. January 21, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "Dr. Ydessa Hendeles Makes AGO History with Contemporary Art Donation". January 21, 2009. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  6. ^ "An End and a Beginning". Canadian Art: 10. Winter 1987.
  7. ^ Mays, John (1989). "The Critical Edge". Art & Auction. 11 (7).
  8. ^ Hume, Christopher (December 18, 1987). "Kitschy Madonna Adds Poignancy to Shopping". Toronto Star.
  9. ^ Christian Boltanski (Exhibition card). Toronto: Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation. 1988.
  10. ^ Mays, John Bentley (November 26, 1988). "Wayside Shrines of Memory and Hope". The Globe and Mail.
  11. ^ Doroshenko, Peter (2010). Private Spaces for Contemporary Art. Brussels: Rispoli. pp. 110–113.
  12. ^ Rhodes, Richard. "Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation: Once Upon a Time" (Fall 2014). Canadian Art.
  13. ^ "End of an era: Ydessa Hendeles has closed her Toronto gallery doors". The Globe and Mail.
  14. ^ "Partners". Haus der Kunst. Retrieved August 10, 2016.
  15. ^ Hendeles, Ydessa (2003). Partners. Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König. ISBN 3-88375-755-1.
  16. ^ Milroy, Sarah. "Animal Magnetism". Globe and Mail.
  17. ^ "Partners (The Teddy Bear Project) by Ydessa Hendeles at Gwangju Art Biennale 2010". designboom. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  18. ^ Ryder, Katie. "A Piercing View of the Twentieth Century, Through the Eyes of the Teddy Bear". The New Yorker. Retrieved September 18, 2016.
  19. ^ Hoffmann, Jens (Summer 2011). "Review of 'Marburg! The Early Bird!'". Frieze d/e. 1 (1): 143.
  20. ^ Milroy, Sarah. "The Wedding: Ydessa Hendeles' New York Vow". Canadian Art. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  22. ^ "From her wooden sleep". ICA. Retrieved March 9, 2015.
  23. ^ "Exhibitions". Tel Aviv Museum of Art. Retrieved July 19, 2016.
  24. ^ Pavka, Evan. "Ydessa Hendeles: Dystopia, Trump and Twitter". Canadian Art. Retrieved November 24, 2016.
  25. ^ "Ydessa Hendeles: The Milliner's Daughter". The Power Plant. Retrieved May 26, 2017.
  26. ^ "Ydessa Hendeles.Death to Pigs". Kunsthalle Wien.
  27. ^ "Order of Canada".
  28. ^ "Order of Ontario". Order of Ontario.
  29. ^ Government of Canada (Canada Council for the Arts and Governor General). "The Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts (2002)". Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  30. ^ "Honours". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  31. ^ NSCAD. "Facts and Figures: Selected Honorary Degree Recipients" (PDF). NSCAD. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  32. ^ Anson Mime, Christina. "All About Alumni". University of Toronto. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  33. ^ "Verleihung der Ehrendoktorwürde an Ydessa Hendeles". www.uni-marburg.de. Philipps-Universität Marburg. Retrieved October 27, 2017.
  34. ^ OCADU. "Honorary Fellows (1973 to 2002)" (PDF). OCADU. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  35. ^ Concordia Journal. "Faculty of Fine Arts honours contributions". Concordia University. Retrieved April 15, 2016.
  36. ^ Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts. "Founders Achievement Award". TFVA. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  37. ^ "TIAF Award of Distinction". 2003 Toronto International Art Fair Catalogue. 2003.
  38. ^ "Lifetime Members". Art Metropole. Retrieved January 19, 2018.
  39. ^ "2011 OAAG Awards". Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  40. ^ "2003 OAAG Awards". Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  41. ^ "2008 OAAG Awards". Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  42. ^ "2007 OAAG Awards". Ontario Association of Art Galleries. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  43. ^ "2002 Awards: Biographies". 2002 Governor General's Awards in Visual and Media Arts. Canada Council. Retrieved May 25, 2017.
  44. ^ "Awards: 2017". Ontario Association of Art Galleries.
  45. ^ Mays, John Bentley (December 27, 2003). "Patron, Partner, Pioneer". The Globe and Mail: R1, R17.
  46. ^ "Ydessa Hendeles: From her wooden sleep..." Hatje Cantz. Retrieved May 26, 2017.

External links[edit]