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Fonds - Eric Metcalfe fonds
Title and statement of responsibility area
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Title statements of responsibility
- Source of title proper: Title based on the creator
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Edition statement of responsibility
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Statement of scale (cartographic)
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Issuing jurisdiction and denomination (philatelic)
Dates of creation area
195?-199?, predominant 1968-1976 (Creation)
- Metcalfe, Eric, 1940-
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Archival description area
Name of creator
Eric William Welton Metcalfe was born in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, in 1940 and raised in Victoria, British Columbia, where his family moved in 1943. He began drawing, cartooning and printmaking while attending St. Michael’s school in Victoria and later studied drawing and sculpture under Czech artist Jan Zack. After travels in Europe, Metcalfe returned to Victoria in 1963 to resume studies in art at the University of Victoria under Joan Brown, Denis Bowen and Dana Atchley.
In the late 1960s, Metcalfe became involved with Michael Morris and Vincent Trasov in the Image Bank correspondence network. The movement was based on an aesthetic of ephemerality, with artists adopting alter egos, forming fictional companies or building archives of collected images. It was during this time that Metcalfe developed the persona of Dr. Brute. In 1969, Metcalfe married artist Kate Craig (who adopted the alias Lady Brute) and, together, they collected materials with a leopard theme. Mail art correspondants contributed found images incorporating leopard imagery.
Dr. Brute was "an urban sadist meant to caricature the secret passions that smouldered underneath the veneer of genteel society in Brutiful British Columbia." (Scott Watson, "Return to Brutopia" in Return to Brutopia (Vancouver: UBC Fine Arts Gallery, 1992): 14.) Brute occupied Brutopia, a fictional world that incorporated leopard-spot imagery in every possible way. Metcalfe's Leopard Realty research, begun in 1970, was aimed at discovering and revealing the ubiquitous nature of ordinary exotica, synonymous with pornography and kitsch as well as a certain expression of sexual power.
Since the 1970s, Metcalfe has remained active, with recent exhibitions including The Attic Project (Southern Alberta Arts Gallery and Kamloops Art Gallery) and Laura (Arts-speak, Vancouver, 2004).
Metcalfe has had solo exhibitions at the Victoria Art Gallery (Victoria, 1968), A Space Gallery (Toronto, 1973), Western Front (Vancouver, 1977) and Artons (Calgary, 1977). Metcalfe also produced and performed in film and video extensively from 1972, in 1973 co-founding the Western Front artists' centre in Vancouver and, from 1978, curating its performance program. Metcalfe has also participated in group exhibitions in Canada, the United States, France, Australia, Argentina, Germany and Belgium.
In 2008, Metcalfe was awarded with the Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of textual and graphic materials relating to the development of Metcalfe's art projects and themes, including Leopard Realty and Banal Beauty Inc.; photographs and clippings documenting Metcalfe's works; and materials sent and received through Metcalfe's participation in several Mail Art networks, including Fluxus West, General Idea and Image Bank.
Materials from each of the abovementioned categories are organized into three series, based on content: Art Projects, Correspondence and Collected Materials. The series and subseries contained in this fonds break down as follows:
4.1 Art Projects series
4.1-1 Look at This subseries
4.1-2 Banal Beauty Inc. / Brutopia subseries
4.1-3 Leopard Realty subseries
4.1-4 Howard Hughes subseries
4.1-5 Spots Before Your Eyes subseries
4.1-6 Howard Hughes subseries
4.1-7 Films and videos subseries
4.1-8 Artworks and exhibitions photographs subseries
4.1-9 Artworks and exhibitions documentation subseries
4.2 Correspondence series
4.2-1 Mail art subseries
4.2-2 Mail art compilations subseries
4.2-3 General and business correspondence subseries
4.3 Collected materials series
4.3-1 Western Front subseries
4.3-2 Collected images subseries
4.3-3 Collected publications subseries
4.3-4 Collected ephemera subseries
4.3-5 Bag of marbles subseries
Immediate source of acquisition
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Associated / related material
The Belkin collection contains drawings, prints, assemblages and the Leopard Chair sculpture by Eric Metcalfe and several monographs featuring Metcalfe's works (please see the artists file for a list of works and collection ID numbers).
The Sax Island collection contains materials related to Metcalfe's 1984 video collaboration with Hank Bull, including storyboards, original drawings, photocopies, props and promotional materials.
The Morris/Trasov Archives contains materials related to the Image Bank correspondence network of which Metcalfe was a significant part, as well as material on the Western Front artists’ center in Vancouver of which Metcalfe was a founding member. The Gary Lee Nova fonds contains significant correspondence between Nova (alias Art Rat) and Metcalfe (alias Dr. Brute). The Kenneth Coutts Smith fonds contains Fluxus-related material.
Art works by Metcalfe are held by the Canada Council Art Bank, University of Victoria, University of Calgary, National Gallery of Canada, Art Gallery of Ontario, Musée d'art contemporain, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Banff Centre School of Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, Burnaby Art Gallery and in international collections.
2009 accrual to the fonds includes new series and additions to existing series:
Brutopia: 5 cm of graphic material
Leopard Realty: 5 cm of textual and graphic material and 3 rubber stamps
Correspondence: 15 cm of textual and graphic material
Western Front: 4 cm of textual and graphic material
General Idea: 3 cm of textual, graphic and other material
Art Projects: 2 cm of graphic material and colour photos
Mail Art: 13 cm of textual and graphic material
Collected Images: 12 cm of textual and graphic material
Collected Publications: 18 cm of textual and graphic material
Collected Ephemera: 4 cm of textual and graphic material
No further accruals are expected.
- Alpha-numeric designations: BCAUL control number: MHB-6
- Physical description: Includes: 4 Plexiglas-mounted graphic images, ca. 400 color and b&w slides (35mm), 3 albums (color and b&w photographs and postcards), 11 binders (textual and graphic material), ca. 15cm graphic material and textual records, 14 colour film and video reels, and 1 cloth bag of White Ballott marbles.
- General note: English, with some graphic material in Spanish, German and other European languages.