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A History of the Fur Trade in Canada

A History of the Fur Trade in Canada

Douglas Coupland (OC OBC)
b.1961

A History of the Fur Trade in Canada
  • Epoxy and resin on board
  • 2009
  • 2.5 m x 2.5 m
  • 155 Wellington Street West, RBC Centre, Toronto

About the artwork

Commissioned for the lobby of the RBC Centre is Douglas Coupland’s monumental and graphic piece named A History of the Fur Trade in Canada. Within a colourful checkerboard pattern, Coupland has strategically placed words and names that bear a common connection: they all refer to the titles of groundbreaking works on technology by Canadian theorists Harold Innis and Marshall McLuhan.

About the artist

Douglas Coupland grew up in Vancouver and attended the Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Since graduating in the 1980s, Coupland has made a name for himself internationally as a writer, visual artist, and graphic designer, as well as being widely recognized as “one of the most original commentators on mass culture of the late 20th and the 21st century.” Coupland has written thirteen novels that have been published in many different languages worldwide. He has written and performed for England’s Royal Shakespeare Company and is a regular columnist for The Financial Times of London. He is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times, e-flux, DIS and Vice. In 2000, Coupland amplified his visual art production and has recently had two separate museum retrospectives: Everything is Anything is Anywhere is Everywhere at the Vancouver Art Gallery, The Royal Ontario Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, and Bit Rot at Rotterdam’s Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art, and Munich’s Villa Stücke. His practice employs a variety of materials and explores the corrupting and seductive dimensions of pop culture. In 2015 and 2016, Coupland was named artist-in-residence at the Paris Google Cultural Institute. In May 2018, his exhibition on ecology, Vortex, opened at the Vancouver Aquarium. Coupland boasts an impressive list of honours and awards. He is a member of the Royal Canadian Academy, an Officer of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of British Columbia, a Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres and a recipient of the Lieutenant Governor’s Award for Literary Excellence.

Fun facts

  • The term "Generation X" was actually coined by Douglas Coupland in his first book bearing the same title. Used by the author to describe the generation born in the late 1950s and 1960s, the term has since been adopted by the media to describe those slightly younger than the characters in Coupland's novel.
  • One of Coupland's lesser known books is God Hates Japan (2001), a graphic-heavy book that was released, of course, only in Japan.

Engagement questions

  • What can the image tell you about the artist (photographer, painter, sculptor, etc.)? What do you see that makes you say that?