Flight attendant’s art collection on display for the first time

In all, almost a third of the 300 works in the collection of Gerd Metzdorff, who died in July 2020, are exhibited together for the first time.

Photographs, lithographs and drawings by several famous artists including Andy Warhol, Ron Liechtenstein, Jeff Koons and Louise Bourgeois have been selected by the Griffin Art Projects gallery for this exhibition.

Part of the works from the Gerd Metzdorff collection at the Griffin Art Projects gallery

Photo: Provided by Griffin Project Art Gallery

A second exhibition including large-format paintings, some of which by American pop art artists, is in preparation for 2023.

A motley collection

Gerd Metzdorff worked for 40 years as a flight attendant with Canadian Airlines and then with Air Canada. A job that allowed him to travel inexpensively all over the world and to satisfy his passion for visual art, explains Grant Mann, friend of Gerd Metzdorff and owner of the collection.

He organized his work schedule according to the exhibitions. »

A quote from Grant Mann, friend and owner of the Grant Mann and David Birdsall collection

It is with the daily allowance in your pocket (per diem) that he received during trips abroad, in addition to his modest salary, which Gerd Metzdorff frequented, from the 1970s, the art galleries of New York, Los Angeles, Düsseldorf and Cologne.

Subsequently, he attended important events such as the international exhibition ArtBasel, contemporary art event now presented on three continents.

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Gerd Metzdorff in his apartment a few months before his death, July 4, 2020

Photo: Christos Dikeakos

His long-time friend, Grant Mann, who inherited the works, describes the collection as a motley collection of paintings, drawings, photographs and sculptures from American pop art, but also many German artists whose careers began in the 1980s. 60 and 70.

My friend had a taste for art of his own. […] At the time, many people commented on his purchases and said: “but why are you buying this? Who would want to collect such a thing?” And yet, here we are many years later, he had the eye [pour le talent]

Part of Gerd Metzdorff’s collection presented at the Griffin Art Projects gallery

Photo: Provided by Griffin Project Art Gallery

Discover the artists

Mr. Mann adds that Gerd Metzdorff was as interested in artists and their creative process as in their works.

In particular, he participated in the establishment of the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver (CASV), a non-profit organization that promotes contemporary art.

Over the years, the organization has attracted hundreds of artists to the city to come and give presentations.

A Campbell’s canned soup label autographed by Andy Warhol

Photo: Provided by Collection of Grant Mann and David Birdsall

Andy Warhol was there in November 1976. The master of American pop art came to Vancouver for a few days to inaugurate an exhibition at the Ace gallery.

Grant Mann says that Gerd Metzdorff, who already owned several works by Warhol, showed up at a dinner party with a tin of Campbell’s soup to have it autographed by the artist.

He was worried that he hadn’t been able to find a tomato soup, a mythical box from which Andy Warhol had taken a work of art in 1962. Instead, it was a cream of chicken with a bilingual label that Warhol happily dedicated to him.

Support for local artists

The rating of an artist or the value of a work was not a determining factor for the amateur collector. He also considerably supported local artists before they became known, explains Grant Mann.

The “Per Diem” exhibition includes many artists from British Columbia. On the left, a work by Ian Wallace and on the right, a sketch by Ben Reeves.

Photo: Provided by Griffin Project Art Gallery

The Metzdorff collection includes works by Vancouverites Ian Wallace, Ken Lum, Rodney Graham and Stan Douglas, among others.

Vancouver must be very grateful to him for helping to promote the contemporary art scene. »

A quote from Grant Mann, friend and owner of the Grant Mann and David Birdsall collection

Grant Mann and her husband David Birdsall want to set up a foundation to offer scholarships to students at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.

The exhibition per diem is presented at the Griffin Art Projects gallery until August 28.


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