Joyce Wieland, Reason over Passion/La Raison avant la passion (1968/1967-69)

The new Fall issue of Canadian Art magazine has just hit newsstands, and it contains Sara Angel’s engaging account of Joyce Wieland’s unprecedented “True Patriot Love” exhibition at the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa in 1971. For an online supplement, we’ve posted a series of fascinating photographs from the opening, which remind us, among other things, of curator Dennis Reid’s hotness and that the National Gallery, until quite recently, used to be housed in a dour office building.

My own supplement, posted here exclusively for you, is this account from page 240 of one of my favourite Canadian books, Margaret Trudeau’s 1979 autobiography Beyond Reason, in which, as the title indicates, she narrates her infamous encounter with one of Wieland’s best-known works:

“One day I did what in Pierre’s eyes was the unforgivable. We were having a frosty argument about clothes, and suddenly I flew into the most frenzied temper. I tore off up the stairs to the landing where a Canadian quilt, designed by Joyce Weyland [sic] and lovingly embroidered in a New York loft with Pierre’s motto, ‘La raison avant la passion,’ was hanging. (Its bilingual pair was in the National Gallery.) Shaking with rage at my inability to counter his logical, reasoned arguments, I grabbed at the quilt, wrenched off the letters and hurled them down the stairs at him one by one, in an insane desire to reverse the process, to put passion before reason just this once. Pierre was icy. Vandalizing a work of art; how low could I sink? (Hildegard sewed them all on again, invisibly and without comment, the next morning.). All of it seemed beyond reason to me.”

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