Comedian Steve Martin the curator

Actor Steve Martin talks about the paintings of Lawren Harris during a media preview of the Canadian artist's works.
Actor Steve Martin talks about the paintings of Lawren Harris during a media preview of the Canadian artist's works.PHOTO: REUTERS

BOSTON • Comedian, writer, producer and musician Steve Martin can add another line to his resume - art museum curator.

The 70-year-old actor, who rose to fame on Saturday Night Live and starred in films including The Jerk (1979) and The Pink Panther (2006), made his curatorial debut in Boston over the weekend, with an exhibition of Canadian landscapes by painter Lawren Harris.

The collection at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts focuses on stark, slightly abstracted paintings of the Rocky Mountains and the shores of Lake Superior completed from 1921 through 1934 by Harris, who is well known in Canada but less familiar to American art lovers.

Martin joked that when he first saw a Harris painting, he mistook it for the work of American landscape artist Rockwell Kent, a contemporary of Harris', who lived from 1885 through 1970.

"I thought this was the best Rockwell Kent I've ever seen and I looked and it was Lawren Harris," the actor said last Friday on a tour of the gallery.

The show, The Idea Of North: The Paintings Of Lawren Harris, features 30 modernist landscapes by the Canadian painter, alongside similar works by American artists, and will be on display till June 12.

Martin, who won an honorary Oscar for his long film career as well as several Grammys for his bluegrass and Americana albums, said that when he was first asked to curate the exhibit, he refused.

"My first instinct was, 'Of course not'. I thought about it overnight and I thought, 'You know, that's an interesting proposition,'" he said. "He's the only artist I could conceive of curating because his master- pieces, all in Canada, are known, they're unknown in America and I happen to have a love of him."

Martin said the curator role was a one-time-only performance. "I'm retired," he said. "I'm retired from curating."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2016, with the headline 'Comedian Steve Martin the curator'. Print Edition | Subscribe