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Steve Martin Curated An Art Exhibit

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Can't spell "Martin" without "art." (Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images)
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Steve Martin is an actor, comedian, writer,Grammy-Award winning banjo player, and now, apparently, a museum curator.

The New York Times visited the Hammer Museum with Martin, where he's preparing an exhibit called "The Idea of North," which will showcase the work of Canadian painter Lawren Harris. Martin, who owns three Harris pieces, told the Times, "He’s Canada’s greatest artist and nobody in America knows who he is, with a few exceptions."

Ann Philbin, the Hammer’s director, saw a small painting by Harris hanging up at Martin's house during a dinner party three years ago, and was moved. A few months later, after diving into Harris' work, she asked Martin if he would curate the show. He said his first reaction was a big fat no, but the more he thought about it, the more it made sense. “It didn’t feel like dilettantism to me," he told the Times. "I’ve loved the work for so long. And a loving curator is an asset to an artist, probably." Martin then spent the last two years traveling Canada, visiting museums in search of Harris paintings and personally pitching for loans.

Harris' paintings are not cheap; "The Old Stump, Lake Superior" sold at auction in 2009 sold for $3.5 million. (The painting will be on display at the Hammer) Because of this, it's understandably difficult to borrow them, but Philbin said, "I do think the fact that Steve Martin was calling helped to open the door."

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"The Idea of North: The Paintings Of Lawren Harris" opens at the Hammer Museum October 11.