Sara Angel

Study program:
Ph.D. Art History
Current affiliation:
University of Toronto

She is examining how Nazi-era restitution can shape a more enlightened approach to museum displays of visual culture and a more equitable approach to the discipline of art history

Journalist, Art Canada Institute founding director, and 2012 Trudeau scholar, Sara Angel researches Nazi-era art restitution and how it has become one of the most significant topics in the international art world since the mid-nineties. Through the framework of the Max Stern Restitution Project, Angel explores how art-recovery cases have challenged jurists, impacted international cultural policy, and given museums public relations nightmares. Angel’s research documents the complex history of Nazi-era art spoliation and illustrates how curators and art historians must develop new approaches to both provenance studies and the teaching and display of cultural property.

Doctoral research

Art, Nazi-Era Restitution, Justice, and Provenance: Toward a More Judicious Understanding of Cultural Property

Nazi-era art restitution has become one of the most significant topics in the international art world since the mid-nineties when an explosion in legal claims surfaced by owners or descendants of owners seeking the recovery of cultural work stolen during the Third-Reich. These cases have challenged jurists, impacted international relations and produced pubic relations nightmares for museums. Yet justice has seldom been served. Rulings on paintings’ proprietorship have had more to do with the interpretation of will and matters of jurisdiction than principles of historical justice. Simultaneously, contemporary curatorial practices and academic approaches to art history have scarcely evolved to encompass what might be learned from World-War-II cultural spoliation and its multifaceted aftermath. Sara’s research documents the complex history of Nazi-era art restitution and illustrates how curators and art historians must develop new approaches to the teaching and display of cultural property to ensure a more judicious understanding of creative heritage.

Sara Angel is a PhD student at the University of Toronto in the Department of Art. She is one of Canada's leading visual arts journalists, and she writes frequently on contemporary visual culture for publications including Maclean's, Canadian Art, and The Walrus to make the world of art accessible to a broad audience. Her academic writing has appeared in the Journal for Canadian Art History and Leonardo, the Journal of the International Society for the Arts, Sciences and Technology. Angel is the founding executive director and publisher of the Art Canada Institute, a research organization based at Massey College, dedicated to the education and promotion of Canadian art history. A recognized authority on visual culture, Angel has been a guest lecturer at Harvard University, the University of Toronto, Ryerson University, the Royal Ontario Museum, and the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Sara Angel has a had an extensive career in arts journalism and publishing, including being a commentator for CBC television's On the Arts, an editor for Saturday Night, and a columnist for The National Post. In 2006 she was named editor-in-chief of Chatelaine. She is the director of Angel Editions and Otherwise Editions, both companies she founded after working with the renowned graphic designer Bruce Mau. Books commissioned by Sara Angel and created under her editorial and art direction, including The Museum Called Canada, Canada's House: Rideau Hall and the Invention of a Canadian Home, and Fights of Our Lives: Elections, Leadership and the Making of Canada have been recognized as pioneering works on Canadian history that combine excellence in prose and visual presentation. In 2011, Fights of Our Lives was named one of the best Canadian political books of the last 25 years by Samara, in association with the Writers' Trust of Canada.
An active volunteer, Sara devotes a portion of her day to doing work for non-for profit organizations. She sits on the board of directors of both Pen Canada and Dancing With Parkinson's. She is also a SickKids Leader for the Hospital for Sick Children and a fundraiser for The Stop Community Centre.

  • May 5, 2015
    Two 2012 Trudeau scholars are finalists for 38th National Magazine Awards, recognizing excellence in Canadian magazines for 2014.
  • April 18, 2013
    On 25 April 2013, Sara Angel, a 2012 Trudeau Scholar, will moderate the Canadian Journalism Foundation and BMO Financial Group J-Talk "The Walking Dead: Do Traditional Art Critics Have a Future?" The talk will feature Ben Brantley, chief theatre critic at The New York Times; Robert Cushman, theatre arts critic at The National Post; and Peter Schjeldahl, arts critic at The New Yorker.
  • November 25, 2012
    Passionate about their opinions and ideas, the Trudeau scholars are often writing texts published in different media. Several scholars have seen their comments published on the Web, while others have had their work featured as articles.
  • October 24, 2012
    The magazine Macleans has published an article written by 2012 Trudeau scholar Sara Angel about an important collection of documentary photography given to Ryerson University. The collection, the Black Star Archive, includes pictures of every internationally newsworthy moment from the 1930s to the 1980s.
  • August 30, 2012
    2012 Trudeau scholar Sara Angel wrote six different stories about the habits of six successful art collectors recently published in The Globe and Mail. One of the stories is about Mr. Roy L. Heenan, the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Trudeau Foundation.