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AGO announces new graphic identity: A conversation with Matthew Teitelbaum

May 15th, 2008

Today the Art Gallery of Ontario unveiled a distinctive new logo that will represent the Gallery well beyond its Fall 2008 opening.

Centered inside a black square, the Gallery’s new logo uses multiple typefaces and a wide spectrum of colours to create a unique effect reminiscent of light refracting through glass. By combining a strong iconic form – the black square – with a shimmering juxtaposition of overlapping coloured typefaces, the logo captures both the stability of the century-old institution and the forward-looking energy of the new Gallery.

Podcast

In this 7:22 minute podcast, AGO staff discuss the work of Bruce Mau Design for the Gallery and the milestone of launching a new graphic identity as part of Transformation AGO.

Matthew Teitelbaum, Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO
Arlene Madell, Director, Marketing & Communications
Matthew Dawson, Creative Director

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


Download MP3

Illustrated History

This exhibition looks back on the history of the AGO’s graphic identities since its founding in 1900. It features a selection of logos and wordmarks compiled from the Gallery’s archives.

See it on Collectionx.museum

Image: Art Gallery of Toronto seal, designed in 1922 by Alexander Scott Carter

  • A Visitor

    Dear AGO, this is by far the worst logo I’ve ever seen chosen to represent a museum. It seems like you’re moving a step backwards rather than forwards in selecting this logo. Your 1997 logo was far more modern and respectable than this new logo, and I was truly disappointed to see an institution that amalgamates such great work choose such a poor representation of itself.

  • A Visitor

    Dear AGO, this is by far the worst logo I’ve ever seen chosen to represent a museum. It seems like you’re moving a step backwards rather than forwards in selecting this logo. Your 1997 logo was far more modern and respectable than this new logo, and I was truly disappointed to see an institution that amalgamates such great work choose such a poor representation of itself.

  • Anonymous

    ouch. that logo is triggering a migraine headache. thanks.

    i really hope that you got mau to donate his services for this one…

  • Anonymous

    ouch. that logo is triggering a migraine headache. thanks.

    i really hope that you got mau to donate his services for this one…

  • Another Disgruntled AGO Member

    Agreeing with the previous posts, I see this logo as a disastrous step backwards – especially since it indirectly represents Toronto on an international level. Subjective tastes aside, the craftmanship behind the logo is poor at best. The black is much too tight on the edges, the choice of font seems dated, and there is no thought in accomodating the mark for 1 colour and small reproductions. The kerning (space between the letterforms) is unintentionally uneven.

    The AGO has left its prestigious visual presence aside, choosing instead to appear amateur, dizzying, and soon enough, dated.

  • Another Disgruntled AGO Member

    Agreeing with the previous posts, I see this logo as a disastrous step backwards – especially since it indirectly represents Toronto on an international level. Subjective tastes aside, the craftmanship behind the logo is poor at best. The black is much too tight on the edges, the choice of font seems dated, and there is no thought in accomodating the mark for 1 colour and small reproductions. The kerning (space between the letterforms) is unintentionally uneven.

    The AGO has left its prestigious visual presence aside, choosing instead to appear amateur, dizzying, and soon enough, dated.

  • anonymous

    Wholeheartedly agree with #1 and #2. One of the first things I learned in design school was that an identity shouldn’t be colour dependent. Best of luck in printing that nightmare.

  • anonymous

    Wholeheartedly agree with #1 and #2. One of the first things I learned in design school was that an identity shouldn’t be colour dependent. Best of luck in printing that nightmare.

  • Victoria Hadden

    Obviously my view seems unpopular and that is, I LIKE IT. I think it’s simple and vibrates a reminiscence of Andy Warhol, certainly much more modern than the previous, and more fitting for a bold new building design. Think ahead a year- it will be ubiquitous and we won’t even remember the old logo and in fact, challenge anyone to conjure up in your mind’s eye a current logo of ANY major art msueum. Introducing a new logo is one of the more difficult aspects of branding and every major organization that’s launched a new logo always has its share of naysayers -goes with the territory of taking risks, sort of like….being an artist!. So much is expected of a logo: the power to stand out, to be instantly recognizable and be able to sport a long shelf life. That’s why designers are paid a big pot of money to create a winning design. I think it adds an edgy new spin to the gallery and will carry the AGO through at least the next decade. It’s a new twist to the ever evolving identity of the AGO and comes with a value added bonus: it matches the giant pencils on OCAD next door!

  • Victoria Hadden

    Obviously my view seems unpopular and that is, I LIKE IT. I think it’s simple and vibrates a reminiscence of Andy Warhol, certainly much more modern than the previous, and more fitting for a bold new building design. Think ahead a year- it will be ubiquitous and we won’t even remember the old logo and in fact, challenge anyone to conjure up in your mind’s eye a current logo of ANY major art msueum. Introducing a new logo is one of the more difficult aspects of branding and every major organization that’s launched a new logo always has its share of naysayers -goes with the territory of taking risks, sort of like….being an artist!. So much is expected of a logo: the power to stand out, to be instantly recognizable and be able to sport a long shelf life. That’s why designers are paid a big pot of money to create a winning design. I think it adds an edgy new spin to the gallery and will carry the AGO through at least the next decade. It’s a new twist to the ever evolving identity of the AGO and comes with a value added bonus: it matches the giant pencils on OCAD next door!

  • Victoria Hadden

    Obviously my view is unpopular: I LIKE IT. I think it vibrates Andy Warhol, certainly much more modern and fitting for a bold new building design. In a year it will be ubiquitous and nobody will remember the old logo and in fact, I challenge anyone to conjure up the current logo of ANY major art museum. Introducing a new logo is a difficult aspect of branding and every major organization that’s launched a new logo has its share of naysayers. So much is expected: the power to stand out, to be easily recognizable and sport a long shelf life. And that’s why designers are paid a big pot of money to create a winning design. I think it adds an edgy new spin to the gallery and will carry the AGO through the next decade. It’s a new twist to AGO’s ever evolving identity with a value added bonus: it matches OCAD next door!

  • Victoria Hadden

    Obviously my view is unpopular: I LIKE IT. I think it vibrates Andy Warhol, certainly much more modern and fitting for a bold new building design. In a year it will be ubiquitous and nobody will remember the old logo and in fact, I challenge anyone to conjure up the current logo of ANY major art museum. Introducing a new logo is a difficult aspect of branding and every major organization that’s launched a new logo has its share of naysayers. So much is expected: the power to stand out, to be easily recognizable and sport a long shelf life. And that’s why designers are paid a big pot of money to create a winning design. I think it adds an edgy new spin to the gallery and will carry the AGO through the next decade. It’s a new twist to AGO’s ever evolving identity with a value added bonus: it matches OCAD next door!

  • anonymous

    This logo is also hurting my eyes and sending me into a migraine spiral. I really want to LOVE it. I just can’t.

  • anonymous

    This logo is also hurting my eyes and sending me into a migraine spiral. I really want to LOVE it. I just can’t.

  • anonymous

    wow. thats so ugly.

  • anonymous

    wow. thats so ugly.

  • Keith Sheppard

    Oh please. The rationale attached to the AGO’s new identity is yet another example of a designer’s bloated ego in attempt to validate an otherwise failed design. This new wordmark lacks the underlined integrity of any good corporate identity. Set aside the fact that it doesn’t work in back & white, the black square is a crutch and merely establishes some contrast to a washed out colour solution. I don’t agree with black somehow cementing the stability of our century old cultural institution, to me, it insights an almost lights out effect – that there was no history.
    The font is chubby, and is suffocating in that black space. It’s unfortunate that such a high profile designer was hired to design this new logo when a lesser known designer could have created a much more effective solution, on a much lower budget.
    Very frustrating indeed.

  • Keith Sheppard

    Oh please. The rationale attached to the AGO’s new identity is yet another example of a designer’s bloated ego in attempt to validate an otherwise failed design. This new wordmark lacks the underlined integrity of any good corporate identity. Set aside the fact that it doesn’t work in back & white, the black square is a crutch and merely establishes some contrast to a washed out colour solution. I don’t agree with black somehow cementing the stability of our century old cultural institution, to me, it insights an almost lights out effect – that there was no history.
    The font is chubby, and is suffocating in that black space. It’s unfortunate that such a high profile designer was hired to design this new logo when a lesser known designer could have created a much more effective solution, on a much lower budget.
    Very frustrating indeed.

  • http://richardwinchell.com richard winchell

    The real problem with the new logo is that Bruce Mau has gone back to a design trope he’s been recycling since using it for the cover of Zone 6: Incorporations, some fifteen years ago.

    The old logo actually stood out among art museums, for having bright colors and the axonometric type. This redesign is fine, but it feels like an opportunity has been missed.

  • Jason
  • daxx

    If this was the 80s, that new logo would work. Shouldn’t it look like its from the 21st century, and not 30+ years ago??

    As a graphic designer, I can already see the problems trying to reproduce a logo like that at a tiny size… most of that detail won’t even be seen… the fine lines between those characters is going to disappear at small sizes too. I hope there’s a positive version.

    Its okay but it doesnt look modern or forward thinking to me.

  • daxx

    If this was the 80s, that new logo would work. Shouldn’t it look like its from the 21st century, and not 30+ years ago??

    As a graphic designer, I can already see the problems trying to reproduce a logo like that at a tiny size… most of that detail won’t even be seen… the fine lines between those characters is going to disappear at small sizes too. I hope there’s a positive version.

    Its okay but it doesnt look modern or forward thinking to me.

  • http://www.tasmanrichardson.com Tasman Richardson

    Your “designer” is a lazy fraud.

    That’s not really the new logo is it? shameless, lazy design. Whoever is responsible for this jumble of “obvious meets hideous” should be really sick with themselves. less gimmicks, more substance please! you must have money to burn if you’re willing to pay for this crap.

  • http://www.lab303.com Sasha Kraus

    I totally agree. This looks like an offset job gone wrong. Yes, your building needed a change, but your logo did not. If you had extra budget to waste on this, you could have offered scholarship(s) to OCAD students instead. Your thinking is indeed, ‘AGO’

  • Jan Drewniak

    Are you guys sure it was a good idea to enable commenting on this page?

  • Jan Drewniak

    Are you guys sure it was a good idea to enable commenting on this page?

  • Helen Toronto

    I don’t know, I actually like it. The color and layering of the letters kind a give me a positive attitude. The colors are vibrant and the movement of the letters make me wanna dance.

    I do agree that reproducing this would probably be a pain in the butt. I don’t see how this logo being b/w in a small size can be all that great, or even in color.

    Call me crazy, I like it, and I don’t think it looks old.

    Hopefully the logo works with their environmental design concepts they come up with. You never know, you might actually like it. Lets see how it pans out.

    It seems like people either hates what Bruce Mau produces or likes it.

  • Helen Toronto

    I don’t know, I actually like it. The color and layering of the letters kind a give me a positive attitude. The colors are vibrant and the movement of the letters make me wanna dance.

    I do agree that reproducing this would probably be a pain in the butt. I don’t see how this logo being b/w in a small size can be all that great, or even in color.

    Call me crazy, I like it, and I don’t think it looks old.

    Hopefully the logo works with their environmental design concepts they come up with. You never know, you might actually like it. Lets see how it pans out.

    It seems like people either hates what Bruce Mau produces or likes it.

  • http://www.estetik-merkezleri.com Levent AKSOY

    I do not like the new one.

  • http://www.estetik-merkezleri.com Levent AKSOY

    I do not like the new one.

  • Calvin

    Hey guys,
    Do you know the last logo was in COLOUR too? and has a version for B/W print?
    I can totally see this in 1 colour myself.

    It’s a moderately neat design. Tho I do agree it gives a completely different vibe than what’s intended: a feeling of a 80’s exhibition instead of a “forward energy”, confinement instead of stability.

    The concept is there, but it feels like it just needs few more nudges to complete the intention.

  • Calvin

    Hey guys,
    Do you know the last logo was in COLOUR too? and has a version for B/W print?
    I can totally see this in 1 colour myself.

    It’s a moderately neat design. Tho I do agree it gives a completely different vibe than what’s intended: a feeling of a 80’s exhibition instead of a “forward energy”, confinement instead of stability.

    The concept is there, but it feels like it just needs few more nudges to complete the intention.

  • http://www.estetiks.net Estetik

    This looks like an offset job gone wrong. Yes, your building needed a change, but your logo did not. If you had extra budget to waste on this, you could have offered scholarship(s) to OCAD students instead. Your thinking is indeed, ‘AGO

  • http://www.estetiks.net Estetik

    This looks like an offset job gone wrong. Yes, your building needed a change, but your logo did not. If you had extra budget to waste on this, you could have offered scholarship(s) to OCAD students instead. Your thinking is indeed, ‘AGO