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Archive: August, 2011

Welcome To Challenge AbEx

August 15th, 2011

Calling all lovers of art and adventure! With just three weeks to go until AbEx makes its AbExit, we invite you to take part in a series of challenges that test your wit, ingenuity, creativity and stamina. Challenge AbEx is here.

To take part all you need to do is follow the #ChallengeAbex hashtag on Twitter or keep an eye on our Facebook page. That’s where we’ll be announcing the details of each challenge. You can take part in as many of the challenges as you want and we’ll be giving away great prizes to the winner of each individual challenge.

On Friday September 2 we will also announce the Challenge Champion – the person who has performed the best across the complete range of challenges. Not only will they receive a crown and the right to call themselves the Ultimate Abex Challenge Champion, they will also get a bumper prize pack. This pack will include a family/dual AGO Membership, a night for two at the Fairmont Royal York Hotel, AbEx goodies and more!

Challenge One: COMPLETED
Difficulty level EASY
Win an AbEx prize pack and a pair of tickets to see the show 

Challenge Two: COMPLETED
Difficulty level MODERATE
4 chances to win a night for two in a Toronto hotel and tickets to the Gallery

Challenge Three: Launches Tuesday August 23
Difficulty Level HARD
Win a $50 voucher to redeem in Frank, the AGO’s restaurant.

Challenge Four: Launches Tuesday August 30
Difficulty level HARD
Prizes to be announced


Good luck and make sure you’re around at noon tomorrow to find out what Challenge One is all about! For more information or to see the terms and conditions please get in touch.

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Nice To Tweet You: Cory Doctorow

August 15th, 2011

Cory Doctorow by Paula Mariel Salischiker

Internet Legend Answers Your Twitter Questions

Our ‘Nice To Tweet You’ series connects our Twitter followers with artists, curators, speakers and experts. Tweet your questions to @agoToronto using the #NTTY hashtag and the best will be put forward to whoever’s in the hot seat.

Our interviewee this week is Boing Boing co-founder Cory Doctorow. As well as founding one of the web’s most insightful and entertaining sites, Cory is also a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger.

On September 14 from 7 – 8.30pm he will be joining us at the AGO to give a free talk that poses the question, ‘Can creativity and freedom peacefully co-exist in the Internet age?’ He’ll be discussing Internet copyright and the creative industries – the challenges we face when creating and distributing content online. We recommend getting there early if you’d like to see the talk – we expect it to be very busy.

Find out more about Cory’s talk

Those wishing to interview Cory can tweet us their questions from now until Monday, August 22 at 4.30pm. The top questions will then be selected and put to Doctorow. Excerpts from the full interview will be shared via @AGOToronto , and a complete version will be published on the AGO Art Matters Blog.

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To find out more about the interview please contact Holly Knowlman via email, Twitter or call 416 979 6660 (ext 426)

The Battle of the “Bergs” – The Struggle for the Meaning of Abstract Expressionism

August 8th, 2011

Greenberg and Rosenberg

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Guest Speaker: Norman L. Kleeblatt
Recorded: Wednesday, June 29, 7-8:30 pm @ Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 01:31:53

No two critics have been more closely associated with the Abstract Expressionist movement in America than Greenberg and Rosenberg. Their pitched battles over formal purity versus existential meaning were played out in art magazines, galleries, and museums nationwide. Their rivalry was so intense that satirist Tom Wolfe dubbed them the “Bergs.” Norman Kleeblatt, chief curator of the Jewish Museum in New York, offers an opportunity to reconsider Abstract Expressionism’s evolution through the contradictory explanations of these two major critics and tastemakers.

The Weston Family Learning Centre Gallery School Hall of Fame: Who would you nominate?

August 8th, 2011

A Saturday Morning Class in the Laidlaw Gallery,  Art Gallery of Toronto during the 1930

The AGO’s Gallery School was started by Group of Seven painter Arthur Lismer in the 1920s. It has been a hub of art learning for millions of adults and children ever since.

We know from our blog post ‘Were you a gallery student‘ that you have lots of fond memories of visiting the Gallery School in the past. Do you know of any prominent Canadians, celebrities or artists who taught or took courses at the Gallery School? Perhaps they attended camp as a child? Perhaps they took an evening printmaking class as an adult?

We’re developing a Gallery Hall of Fame as an exciting way of sharing our history with our visitors. If you can think of anyone who should be on the list please get in touch or leave a comment below.

The launch of our brand new Weston Family Learning Centre is now just weeks away and our Fall Program Guide is out. Find out more about adult classes at the AGO.


Twitter Interview: General Idea’s AA Bronson

August 2nd, 2011

General Idea File Magazine

Last week we invited you to submit your questions via Twitter for artist AA Bronson,  founding member of Canadian artist collective General Idea, to celebrate the launch of Haute Culture: General Idea at the AGO

Founded in Toronto in 1969 by Bronson, Felix Partz, Jorge Zontal, General Idea interrogated media image culture through now legendary projects like File magazine, as well as paintings, installations, sculptures, mail art, photographs, videos, ephemera, TV programs and even a beauty pageant. Curated by Paris-based independent curator Frédéric Bonnet, Haute Culture: General Idea is the first comprehensive retrospective devoted to the collective, providing an incredible insight into ‘the most significant, famous and influential art beast, single or otherwise, to emerge from Toronto, if not Canada, in the last half of the 20th century.’
From hipster beards to the politics of censorship, the questions you tweeted us were insightful, revealing and articulate. This interview is the first of a new series that gives visitors the opportunity to connect with artists, curators and other experts to find out more about the AGO. If you have any suggestions for people you would like to interview please get in touch.

Twitter Interview: General Idea’s AA Bronson


HCGI Twitter Interview Question 1: Do TO/CDN artists have trouble finding recognition locally unless they've been recognized elsewhere first? Why/why not? (From @eurekascastle)

AA Bronson: “That’s the standard wisdom in Canada, and it’s absolutely true. General Idea’s first solo museum show was in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam in 1979. We had an immediate response to our work from Europe and only then did Canada start to take notice.

The first group museum show we were in was in Paris in 1973, our first solo museum show was at the Stedelijk in 1979, and our first residency was with De Appel in Amsterdam in 1979. There we were given a whole professional TV studio to produce Test Tube, which was made for television. All these amazing opportunities opened up for us in Europe and then, in response, Canada began to pay some attention, but not until the 80s.

Our first Canadian solo museum show was in 1984 at the Vancouver Art Gallery, closely followed by the AGO and the Musée d’art contemporain in 1985.”


HCGI Twitter Interview question 2: Will there be poodles? (From @flomac485)


“Absolutely! There are tons of poodles, mostly from the early 80s…. 2 sets of fake stuffed poodles, for example. There’s many paintings of poodles, there’s castings of poodles, drawings of poodles and some photographs of poodles too. The poodle was our attempt to provoke a discussion of sexuality and especially queer sexuality in the art world.”


HCGI Twitter Interview Question 3: My question for AA Bronson. Who are some of the current painters of photographers whose work you find more intriguing or enjoyable (from @inciteout)


“For the most part, young people. I find myself most interested in artists in their 20s or 30s. Two photographers who interest me are Ryan Pfluger and Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Both do fairly conventional portrait photography but with their own inimitable and somewhat homoerotic stamp. Toronto artists are engaging me these days: Derek Sullivan and Gareth Long, both from Toronto, are favorite artists of mine. Paul P.’s latest paintings seem to channel William Turner. And Terence Koh—who is from Mississauga, not Beijing—continues to blow me away with his performative sculpture, his use of ritual, and the ways in which his art and life are one.”


HCGI Twitter Interview Question 4: Would General Idea ever use Youtube, if it existed in the past of if they continue working? How does GI feel about Youtubers? (from @NatashaGouvela5)


“Not just Youtube but the whole Internet. When we started File magazine in 1972 it was a kind of simulacrum of the Internet before the Internet existed. It was a networking tool before electronic networking was invented.

If we had come along a little later I suspect we would be working almost exclusively with the media of the Internet, including YouTube.

YouTube is so ubiquitous at this point, we rely on it for everything – if it were gone it would be a total shock. It’s great how people who have no personal access to mainstream media can come up out of nowhere and suddenly attain an incredible YouTube popularity. It’s a very democratic medium.”


HCGI Twitter Interview Question 5: Have the politics of censorship eclipsed the message of your work, or have they contributed to the ideological impact (from @juiliawants)

“Canada and the US and Europe are all very different situations when it comes to censorship. In the US, institutions tend to censor things just in case anybody makes a complaint, so censorship is far more severe in the US than it is here. That has been a problem. It’s funny because the US makes such a big fuss over freedom of the press when in fact the censorship is much worse there.

For example, when we made the video Shut The Fuck Up (1984) it was premiered at the Museum of Modern Art, but they couldn’t print the title on the invitation card. The Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo put the same video in a General Idea touring exhibition but refused to show it in their own museum. That’s kind of typical for an American Institution, so when they censor something openly it’s quite a surprise because usually they’ve done it in advance behind the scenes. In Canada I haven’t had any problems, not with arts institutions, although the AGO did remove one work from the current exhibition under the guise of a liability issue.

The Ontario censorship board for television and video was a big problem for the art community in the 70s and 80s. There were big run-ins between the cultural community and the government, but that’s all been sorted out, decades ago now.

Maybe @juliawants is thinking of the Hide/Seek exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, where a David Wojnarowicz video was removed from the show. There were many demonstrations across the continent. I asked to have my work removed in response and was actually unable to have it removed. There was a lot of talk about censorship and culture wars around that exhibition. It’s true that with all the fuss about censorship, the political and social content of my work in that exhibition was eclipsed.”


HCGI Twitter Interview Question 7: Do you feel at least partially responsible for the hipster beard trend? (From @juiliawants)

“Yes! I don’t know… I think it’s more like I saw it coming, and got in on the ground floor.”




HCGI Twitter Interview Question 7: Who was your greatest influence when you began art-making, and who/what would you cite as a current, ongoing influence? (From @juliawants)
“Our biggest art influence when we started was Andy Warhol and his Factory and that’s probably pretty visible. But there were other influences from the literary world, writers like William Burroughs and Gertrude Stein. And then from another world completely, Marshall McLuhan. There were many different kinds of influences.

As for ongoing influences, I’m going to say Joseph Beuys because of his shamanistic stance, his use of his own identity as an integral part of his artwork, and his ongoing project of the Free University. AA Bronson’s School For Young Shamans (2008) can be seen as a response to Joseph Beuys.”


Haute Culture: General Idea is now open at the AGO. For details of how to visit the gallery please visit the main website or call us on 416-979-6648.