Chris Canning was born Melbourne on 10 September 1947. She is well known for her still life paintings of flowers and interior scenes.
Criss Canning enrolled at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in 1965 to study art. Although praised for her skill in botanical painting, Canning left RMIT once she had decided she did not wish to pursue this as career. Canning had also studied Graphic Art at the Swinburne Technical College at the same time and after being introduced to the artist Max Middleton in the same year, she enrolled in his evening art class at his Collins Street studio.
For the subsequent years Canning worked several jobs to support her children and her passion for painting. In 1982, her first solo exhibition was held at Fiveways Gallery, Kalorama. Following this success she had her first exhibition the Melbourne Art Exchange in 1983.
In January 1986, Canning left for Europe, first living and painting in Greece before travelling on to Amsterdam and Paris later in the year. When she returned in October, her fourth exhibition with the Melbourne Art Exchange was held titled Impressions of Greece.
The following years saw many of Canning’s works included in important exhibitions including: The 1988 Doug Moran National Portrait Prize (Australian National Gallery, Canberra), Australian Flower Paintings 1890-1900 (Trevor Bussell Gallery, Sydney, 1990), Fine Australian Paintings (Melbourne Fine Art Gallery, 1992), Outstanding Oils & Works on Paper (Gould Galleries, Hong Kong, 1992) and Important Australian Women Artists (Melbourne Fine Art Gallery, 1993). In 1995 Canning had a sell-out exhibition at Gould Galleries in Melbourne titled ‘Criss Canning: In and Around Burnside’ and in 1999 Margaret Olley purchased Waratah in a Green Jug and donated it to the Art Gallery of New South Wales. This was the first time a work by Canning entered a public gallery.
After the death of her father in 1996, Canning began to paint in a more minimalist fashion. The works she painted in the late 1990s and early 2000s are highly influenced by her love of Japanese art and the geometric designs of Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Canning’s work became increasingly sought after and in 2002 Dame Elisabeth Murdoch opened a solo exhibition at Gould Galleries in South Yarra.
In 2007, the Ballarat Fine Art Gallery organized a retrospective exhibition titled ‘Kalianthi: The Art of Criss Canning. The exhibition broke all previous attendance records, 22,700 people attended.
Today Canning’s works are found in several major galleries across Australia including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, National Gallery of Australia, Ballart Fine Art Gallery, Castlemaine Art Gallery and Cairns Art Gallery.
Thomas, D., Criss Canning: The Pursuit of Beauty, Macmillian, South Yarra, Melbourne, 2007
Criss Canning Website, Artist Bio, http://crisscanning.com.au/artist-bio
Criss Canning. Metro Gallery, online http://metrogallery.com.au/artists/5/criss-canning/