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#RetroAGO: Our first building in 1918

April 24th, 2018

People laying bricks in 1916 Toronto.

Construction of the 1918 addition. Exterior view looking north-west (probably from NW bedroom in the Grange) toward the stables over the floor of the octagon Gallery. Image courtesy of the AGO.

This month we’re going back – back to the AGO’s beginning. April’s Library & Archives Unshelved series – the monthly drop-in at the AGO’s Edward P. Taylor Library & Archives that explores our extensive art research resources – will showcase photographs from the AGO’s history on Wednesday, April 25.

AGO archivist Marilyn Nazar unearthed the 100-year-old photographs that show when construction finished on the first AGO building, which added new gallery spaces to the beloved Grange. The Grange became the property of the Art Museum of Toronto (as the AGO was known then) following the death of Goldwin Smith on June 7, 1910. After years of temporary exhibitions at the Ontario Society of Artists’ museum and the Toronto Reference Library, The Grange became the first home for the Art Gallery of Toronto. Read the rest of this entry »

Seeing Impressionists in a new light

April 23rd, 2018

Claude Monet's rendering of a 19th Century train station.

Claude Monet, Arrival of the Normandy Train, Gare Saint-Lazare, 1877. Oil on canvas, 60.3 x 80.2 cm. Art Institute of Chicago, Mr. and Mrs. Martin A. Ryerson Collection, 1933.1158.  Image © Art Institute of Chicago/ Art Resource, NY.

Roads, trains, bridges and workers – these help a growing city thrive. And that’s as true for Toronto’s evolution as it was for Paris in the late 1800s. An exciting new exhibition will explore how Impressionist artists reflected their changing city.

Beginning with the Impressionists, around 1870, and ending at the turn of the 20th century, this new exhibition will bring masterpieces from around the world to the AGO in February 2019, including key works by Monet from the Musée d’Orsay and the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition will present highlights from the AGO’s Collection in a new light, including Camille Pissarro’s Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Damp Weather and James Tissot’s The Shop Girl. This groundbreaking exhibition will be the first-ever dedicated to exploring Impressionist and Post-Impressionist representations of industry and labour. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s complicated

April 23rd, 2018

Performer Dainty Smith looking through a sheer veil, with one hand up against it.

Toronto actor, burlesque performer, playwright and producer Dainty Smith will perform at AGO First Thursday on May 3. Photo by Sly Feiticeira.

Relationships can be complicated. The ways we impact each other – in our personal and our professional lives – can be layered. This ebb and flow plays a key role in our exhibition Mitchell/Riopelle: Nothing in Moderation, and it inspired our First Thursday on May 3. With or without you boasts an exciting line-up of performers, including headliner Prince Innocence, DJ duo LUXURY ’66 and KTANA, DJ New Chance, and a project by Toronto artist William Ellis.

Making her AGO debut is Toronto-based actor, burlesque performer, playwright and producer Dainty Smith. In collaboration with artist and anti-oppression activist Rania El Mugammar, Smith will perform a specially commissioned work entitled Hunger. We caught up with Dainty to find out more. Read the rest of this entry »

Picturing the life of Yayoi Kusama

April 23rd, 2018

An illustration by Ellen Weinstein of Yayoi Kusama painting at a table in a room covered in red and white polka dots.

Image courtesy of Ellen Weinstein and the Museum of Modern Art.

One product flying off the shelves at shopAGO is the children’s book Yayoi Kusama: From Here to Infinity. A bright and beautiful look at the life of Yayoi Kusama, the book teaches kids about the power of creative expression and the courage to pursue your passions. Less than six months after being published, the book has already gone through a second print run.

New York-based illustrator Ellen Weinstein worked with Museum of Modern Art curator Sarah Suzuki on the book, and Weinstein will be at the AGO from 2–4 pm on Sunday, April 29 for a book signing.

We spoke with the illustrator about why she loves Kusama’s work, and why Kusama’s story appeals to kids. Read the rest of this entry »

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:

Read the rest of this entry »


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 »