The Vanity of Human Greatness

Canada is pleased to announce The Vanity of Human Greatness, Marc Hundley’s third solo exhibition at the gallery. This exploration of Hundley’s private and public worlds is built across both spaces in the gallery. The main space (equipped with park benches) features the grander points of Hundley’s views on the hubris of human life. A recreation of Roy Lichtenstein cigarette painting, an ad for the novel Strangers on a Train, and a huge image of a statue of Achilles holding a sword all reach the scale and ratios of billboards, six by twelve feet in one case, dwarfing the viewer with the type of confidence usually reserved for selling products. In contrast is an image lifted from the classic children’s book, The Story of Ferdinand, the tale of a pacifist bull who refuses to fight and is happiest enjoying flowers in a pasture and eventually in the hair of voyeuristic ladies in a Madrid bullring. Walls in this courtyard have been painted a dusty gray, implying that we are outside in an urban space, where the public and its vanities are all ours, built and shared, reflected and consumed.

In the project room Hundley has created an interior space. He has titled this low-key meta-show The Greatest Thing, taken from the Led Zeppelin song Friends. Despite the heaviness of the music, the song declares that trading a smile with another person is the greatest thing one can do. The works in here are smaller in scale and have a more soulful approach towards his subject: people. The stridently declarative nature of the public square is gone, and we find Hundley remembering specific relationships, moments, or individuals. These works offer more of the artist's hand, in contrast with the hard edge, nearly commercial approach of his larger works. The personal nature of these painted pieces gain power through the pairing of imagery with an address or a date, often corresponding to a moment of remembrance.

Hundley isn’t a newshound, social media junkie, or polemicist. He maintains a bemused fondness for the myopic culture that he is both a part of and slightly distanced from. Never one to scold, he gently pokes fun at the folly of human vanity and we, in turn, get to enjoy this artist finding meaning in the power of human connections.

Marc Hundley (b. 1971, Toronto, Canada) is represented by Canada, New York and The Modern Institute, Glasgow. His work has been exhibited at The Jewish Museum, New York; Serpentine Galleries, London; White Columns, New York; Printed Matter, Inc., New York; Ratio 3, San Francisco; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Canada, New York; Team Gallery, New York; Herald St, London; and Darren Knight Gallery, Sydney, among others. His work is held in the collection of the Whitney Museum of American Art, and has been reviewed in Artforum, Frieze, New York Magazine, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, Architectural Digest, and Vogue. Marc Hundley:The Voyage Out, co-published with The Modern Institute in Fall 2023, marks a three-decade inventory of Hundley’s eclectic artistic output, from furniture, clothes and gifts to painting, text-based works and more.