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Hooray for volunteers!

April 16th, 2018

A photo of the AGO reading room outside of the Library and Archives.

The reading nook outside of the AGO Library & Archives. Image by the AGO.

At the AGO, we work with many wonderful, hardworking volunteers who are dedicated to engaging our visitors in all aspects of our museum. The Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives, located on the south side of the building on the Lower Level (Concourse), relies heavily on volunteers. A centre for art history research, the library is also responsible for programs like the Truth & Reconciliation Commission Report Reading Group, Wikipedia Edit-A-Thons, and more.

In honour of National Volunteer Appreciation Week (April 15-21), we are shining the spotlight on volunteer extraordinaire Ruth Kenins, who has volunteered at the library for 10 years. We spoke to Ruth to learn more about her passion for the library:

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April 16th, 2018

A close up of a piece of Yoko Ono's "Mend Piece."

Yoko Ono, Mend Piece (detail), 1966 / 2018 © Yoko Ono. Photo: Tara Fillion.

In 2002, the AGO held the first ever large-scale multimedia retrospective of Yoko Ono’s work to be mounted in North America, Y E S YOKO ONO. Once again, Torontonians are clamouring to see this artist’s work. On view at the Gardiner Museum now until June 3, YOKO ONO: THE RIVERBED is a series of three installations, each with a specific purpose.

Since the 1950s, audience participation has been a key aspect of Ono’s practice, and it is at the heart of this exhibition. Into the serene whiteness of the Gardiner’s third floor, you’re greeted with a hum of activity as visitors use the provided hammers, nails, assorted stones and meditation pillows to fulfill instructions set out by Ono in three different sections. Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome back The West Wind

April 16th, 2018

Tom Thomson's painting "The West Wind" featuring a tree against a lake and mountainous background.

Tom Thomson, The West Wind, winter, 1916–1917. Oil on canvas, 120.7 x 137.9 cm. Gift of the Canadian Club of Toronto, 1926 © 2016 Art Gallery of Ontario.

Since last September, Tom Thomson’s The West Wind had been on loan to the Tom Thomson Art Gallery in Owen Sound. Luckily for AGO visitors, the painting recently returned to the Gallery’s walls and now hangs in the newly reinstalled Fudger Rotunda on Level 1 of the AGO.

Thomson’s painting was experimental for its time, with the shape of the tree and the rocks verging on abstraction. The West Wind now rests next to a contemporary work by Siksika (Blackfoot) Nation’s member Adrian Stimson, Old Sun, which sits at the centre of the Fudger Rotunda. Stimson’s work speaks to colonialism’s destructive history and there is an important reason why it’s located with The West Wind. Read the rest of this entry »

Cheers to infinity

April 16th, 2018

A photo of the AGO Bistro drink "Obliteration Fizz" with red and blue dots in it.

Obliteration Fizz is on the menu at AGO Bistro. Image by the AGO.

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors invites visitors to imagine what infinity looks like. The AGO Bistro’s bartender and mixologist Stephen Gaessler wants you to try and taste it. It’s why Gaessler has created a menu of Kusama-themed cocktails for art-goers looking to extend the experience.

Stephen has been making art-themed cocktails since the fall of 2016, and continues to amaze us with how he combines artistic influences, colours and styles – as well as cultural history – into his drinkable creations. Check out what he did for Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters, Georgia O’Keeffe, and Mystical Landscapes.

For Infinity Mirrors, Stephen took cues from the patterns and colours Kusama uses in her work, the era of 1960’s avant-garde New York in which she rose to fame, and of course, the flavours of her home country of Japan. Read the rest of this entry »

A gift of compassion

April 16th, 2018

Kathe Kollwitz's drawing of an infant in a woman's lap.

Käthe Kollwitz, Sleeping Child in the Lap of her Mother. Charcoal and wash with graphite on wove paper. 34.4 x 45.2 cm. Promised Gift of Dr. Brian McCrindle.

An advocate for women, Käthe Kollwitz was a leading and beloved 20th century German artist renowned for her etchings, lithographs, woodcuts, sculptures and drawings. Among her preferred themes were motherhood, sacrifice, separation, oppression and death.

Dr. Brian McCrindle with Kathe Kollwitz work "Woman with Children Going to Their Death."

Dr. Brian McCrindle standing in the Esther & Arthur Gelber Treasury beside Käthe Kollwitz’s Woman with Children Going to Their Death, a woodcut from 1923. The work is one of the 170 that Dr. McCrindle donated to the AGO in 2015.

In 2015, Dr. Brian McCrindle, a cardiologist and researcher at The Hospital for Sick Children, also known as SickKids, made an extraordinary donation to the AGO of 170 prints, drawings and sculptures by Kollwitz. Thanks to his generosity, the AGO is now home to one of the largest collections of the artist’s work outside Germany. Using this incredible new collection, our Prints & Drawings Department has launched the first in a year-long series of displays highlighting the richness and depth of Kollwitz’s art. The first selection, which debuted on April 7 and runs until September 30, is entitled Käthe Kollwitz: Art and Life.

We caught up with Dr. Brian McCrindle to find out more about the person behind this remarkable gift and to uncover the source of his Kollwitz fascination. Read the rest of this entry »

Like a prayer bead

April 9th, 2018

Close up of a small wooden carved bead, closed.

Prayer Bead with depictions of Saint James and Saint George, c. 1500-1530 (closed view). Boxwood, Overall: 4 × 3.5 × 4.3 cm. Purchase, with funds from the sale of deaccessioned European art work and the Thomson European Collection Acquisition Fund, 2017. © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario.

Different pieces come into the AGO Collection in different ways and often with astonishing stories. We sat down with AGO curator Sasha Suda and conservator Lisa Ellis, who together curated the popular AGO exhibition Small Wonders: Gothic Boxwood Miniatures, to hear about how our latest treasure – a miniature prayer bead – came to the Gallery. Read the rest of this entry »

From visitor to curator

April 9th, 2018

Photo of Renée van der Avoird.

Renée van der Avoird. Image by the AGO.

For the newest member of the Department of Indigenous and Canadian Art, visiting the Gallery has been a lifelong activity. Raised in Brampton, Renée van der Avoird has been coming to the AGO since she was a child, racing up the stairs to see Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger. In 2012, she spent the summer as an AGO intern, working in the Director’s Office. Now a specialist in post-war Canadian art, she is joining the team in the role of Assistant Curator of Canadian Art.

We caught up with Renée to learn more about her work and why she’s excited to be at the Gallery.

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12,000 km for Kusama

April 9th, 2018

Two people taking pictures with their phones of a brightly lit Infinity Mirror Room.

Image by Felicia Shiu.

Incredible artists can inspire art lovers to travel great distances to see their work. Yayoi Kusama is definitely one of these artists. Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors has drawn visitors from the city, the province, the United States… and even Hong Kong!

Globe-trotting art lover Felicia Shiu was born in Canada and raised in Montreal and Toronto. Throughout her childhood, she enjoyed visits to the AGO to see her favourite pieces, including Paul Peel’s painting After the Bath, Henry Moore’s sculptures and Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger. And even after moving to Hong Kong for work seven years ago, she still pops into the Gallery on the rare occasions when she’s in town. But her most recent trip to the AGO was special – it centred around her visit to Kusama’s exhibition – and was booked only after securing her tickets as a Long Distance Member.

We spoke with Felicia about why she made the transatlantic trip for Yayoi Kusama. Read the rest of this entry »

Made you look

April 9th, 2018

People gathered around Studio F Minus's installaton "Dream of Pastures."

Studio F Minus, Dream of Pastures. Image by Priam Thomas, courtesy of Artspin.

Art collective Studio F Minus gets an A+ when it comes to whimsical, interactive public art installations. And one of their renowned works is coming to this year’s annual AGO Massive, Massive Illusion.

AGO Massive, Toronto’s annual contemporary art party, raises important funds to strengthen our collections and exhibitions, grow our audiences, improve access to transformative experiences, and welcome even more curious minds to the AGO. Tickets are on sale now. This year’s theme, Massive Illusion, will transfix party-goers with more artists than ever, including Maxwell Burnstein and Studio F Minus. Read the rest of this entry »