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Archive: March, 2014

The 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize: Meet the jury

March 31st, 2014

Voting won’t begin until late summer, but the 2014 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize is well underway. Over the past few months, individuals around the world have been researching and discussing exciting new ideas and directions in fine art photography and putting forward the names of artists whose recent work has shown extraordinary potential. The nominators — a group of 13 curators, critics and artists — submit two artists each for inclusion on the long list, and then a three-person jury selects a short list of four. Later this year, the shortlisted artists’ work will be exhibited at the AGO and online, and the public vote will decide who wins the $50,000 CAD prize.

We’re happy to introduce you to this year’s jury, led by the AGO’s associate curator of photography, Sophie Hackett, and we hope you’ll follow along as the Prize develops in 2014. Keep an eye out for long-list and short-list announcements in the coming months, and follow the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize on Facebook and Twitter for more news.

This year’s jury:


Sophie Hackett is the Associate Curator, Photography, at the Art Gallery of Ontario and adjunct faculty in Ryerson University’s master’s program in Photographic Preservation and Collections Management. She has contributed to several Canadian art magazines, international journals and monographs, and she has curated or co-curated several exhibitions and public projects at the AGO, including Suzy Lake: Rhythm of a True Space (2008); Barbara Kruger: Untitled (It) (2010); “Where I was born…”: A Photograph, a Clue and the Discovery of Abel Boulineau (2011); Songs of the Future: Canadian Industrial Photographs, 1858 to Today (2011); Album: A Public Project (2012) and Light My Fire: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography (2013-2014), a wide-ranging consideration of the photographic portrait, drawn from the AGO’s permanent collection. Upcoming projects include What It Means To be Seen: Photography and Queer Visibility and Fan the Flames: Queer Positions in Photography — both opening in June 2014. She is the lead juror for the 2014 AIMIA | AGO Photography Prize, a role she also held in 2010 and 2012.

Laurie Simmons

Laurie Simmons (b.1949, USA) stages photographs and films with paper dolls, finger puppets, ventriloquist dummies and costumed dancers as “living objects,” animating a dollhouse world suffused with nostalgia and colored by an adult’s memories, longings, and regrets. Simmons’ work blends psychological, political, and conceptual approaches to art-making, transforming photography’s propensity to objectify people, especially women, into a sustained critique of the medium. She has received many awards, including the Roy Lichtenstein Residency in the Visual Arts at the American Academy in Rome (2005), and fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation (1997) and the National Endowment for the Arts (1984). She has had major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Baltimore Museum of Art; San Jose Museum of Art, California; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis and she has participated in two Whitney Biennial exhibitions (1985, 1991) and was included in the 2013 Venice Biennial. Her work is represented in many noted collections including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Art Institute of Chicago; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, among others.


Okwui Enwezor is a Nigerian-born, German-based scholar, curator, and writer and has been director of Haus der Kunst since October 2011. He was adjunct curator at International Center of Photography, New York, and previously adjunct curator of Contemporary Art, at the Art Institute of Chicago. Enwezor has served as the artistic director of several leading biennials and international exhibitions and in December 2013 he was appointed as director of the Visual Arts Sector of the 56th Biennale di Venezia. Enwezor’s curatorial credits include exhibitions presented in museums and venues across the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, and Latin America, including Guggenheim Museum, Tate Modern, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Contemporary Art Barcelona, Museo Tamayo, Mexico City, Palais des Beaux Arts, Brussels, PS1 / MoMA, New York and the National Gallery of Canada. Enwezor has received numerous awards and honors for his work including an honourary fellowship from the Royal College of Art, London (2010) and an award for Curatorial Excellence from Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, Bard College (2009). He lives in Munich and New York.

This year’s nominators were:

  • Grant Arnold, Audain Curator of British Columbia Art, Vancouver Art Gallery, Vancouver
  • Veronica Cordeiro, curator, Centro de Fotografía de Montevideo, Uruguay
  • Moyra Davey, artist and nominee for the 2010 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize (then called the Grange Prize)
  • Jon Davies, associate curator, Oakville Galleries
  • Gary Dufour, adjunct associate professor, University of Western Australia and former chief curator/deputy director, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth
  • Tamar Garb, Durning Lawrence Professor in the History of Art, University College, London, U.K.
  • Gauri Gill, artist and winner of the 2011 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize (then called the Grange Prize)
  • Marie-Josée Jean, head of the VOX Contemporary Image Centre, Montreal
  • Mami Kataoka, chief curator, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo
  • Beatrix Ruf, director/curator, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zurich
  • Jonathan Shaughnessy, associate curator, Contemporary Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa
  • Brian Sholis, associate curator of Photography at the Cincinnati Art Museum, Cincinnati
  • Kim Simon, curator, Gallery TPW, Toronto

Time to party: MASSIVE 10 artist projects and entertainment

March 21st, 2014

On April 10, 2014, see artwork by Katie Bethune-Leamen, Bruno Billio, Jorden Blue Doody & David James Doody, Randy Grskovic, Sean Martindale, Hazel Meyer, Talwst and Artistic Director Justin Broadbent created exclusively for MASSIVE 10, the 10th anniversary of the AGO’s Massive Party fundraiser. In addition to these artists, we’re pleased to announce a musical lineup that will keep guests dancing all night long, including DJ Filthy Gorgeous, DJ Soundbwoy, Johnny Hockin and Joseph Of Mercury / Joseph & The Mercurials. Guests will also be treated to a birthday fête at the Aimia Photo Booth by Melanie Cantwell Designs where they will receive a memento of the evening. Guests will also be invited to interact with the Absolut Vodka installation by MAKELAB.

Massive Party tickets have sold out for the past four years running, so get your tickets now!

Artists and project details

Justin Broadbent
Justin Broadbent is back for his second year as Massive Party’s Artistic Director after the hugely successful Massive Party GOLD in 2013. He is an accomplished Toronto-based multi-disciplinary artist. His portfolio includes works in video performance, poems, funny ideas, illustration, design, shirt design, music video direction and installation. Justin is also a self-taught photographer. As a video director, Justin has worked with bands such as Shad, Metric, Serena Ryder and Classified. He has been nominated for five MuchMusic Video Awards, including Rock Video of the Year and Hip Hop Video of the Year. Justin’s other awards include a Juno for Record Package of the Year and a CBC Bucky Award for Music Video of the Year. Justin makes a point of choosing layered projects that challenge his expectations. His work often centres around meaning-of-life topics, which he delivers with a glimmer of charm and wit. Justin’s work is inspired by the impossibility of a seed becoming a tree, thrift stores, clever lyrics and human perseverance. He spends his spare time outdoors, looking at the world as if for the first time and adding to his collection of porcelain cat figurines that adorn the mantle of his Toronto home. Justin also likes rappers Creemore and David Shrigley.

Katie Bethune-Leamen
Katie Bethune-Leamen works in installation, sculpture, video and drawing. She received a BFA from Concordia University (Montreal) and a MFA from the University of Guelph. Katie has exhibited across Canada, in Iceland, Japan, France, Australia, the USA, the Netherlands, England, Australia and other countries. Recent solo exhibitions include Shiny Object Person (Young Gallery, Art Gallery of Ontario). Recent residencies include Fogo Island Arts (Fogo Island, NL) and SIM (Reykjavik, IS), with ones upcoming at the Illulissat Art Museum (Ilulissat, GD) and The American Museum of Natural History (NYC). In 2012 Rick Rhodes, editor of Canadian Art magazine, listed her as one of the “Top 3 of 2012.” Katie is the recipient of numerous grants and awards. Her writing has appeared in Canadian Art, C Magazine, Border Crossings and others.

At MASSIVE 10 Katie will be bringing 10 artists into the Gallery to participate in art creation throughout the evening. Guests won’t want to miss the chance to watch creativity live as artists interpret the same reference image in 10 different ways.

Bruno Billio
Bruno Billio is a Canadian artist working from an interdisciplinary background. At once an installation artist, a sculptor and a designer, Bruno creates challenging works informed by his command of each of these practices. He is currently living and working in Toronto, and has been the resident artist at the Gladstone Hotel on Queen West, in the fashionable art gallery district in Toronto, for the past few years. Bruno Billio’s artistic practice is informed by the active displacement and staging of the found object, a contemporary art strategy with a historically established lineage. The everyday is reinterpreted through its spatial and contextual re-appropriation by the artist, who presents himself by proxy as both an interventionist and an inventor. Bruno has exhibited internationally in Milan, London, Miami, New York and Los Angeles. Bruno was also Massive Party’s Artistic Director from 2010-12 – shaping the vision for Massive Party Speakeasy, Marchesa Luisa Casati’s Massive Party and #thefutureofartis.

Jorden Blue Doody & David James Doody
Jorden Blue & David James Doody are both graduates from the University of British Columbia in Critical and Creative Studies. Although each artist offers a uniquely individual approach to the discourse of visual arts, they share a common focus on the materialism of cultural codification. Their combined individual practices have been heavily influenced by world travel and the cross pollination of mass media, ritual and fetishistic cultures. Their practice moves freely between new media, sculpture, and painting.

“As a collaborative team for the past seven years, we believe that communication has been the foundation of our artistic relationship. A common thread that can be traced throughout our work is that of collage. By sampling freely from a multitude of different sources, we are able to access unlimited individual histories, societal contexts and cultural symbols. For us, collage is more than just cut and paste, it is an immediate sense of being; it is our way of participating in the re-contextualization of our unfolding culture.” Through their open processes of art-making they allow happenstance to regurgitate cultural intuition in an act of artistic survival.

Randy Grskovic
Randy Grskovic is an artist and curator living in Toronto, Ontario. He holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts, in Advanced Media communication, from the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. Randy has shown his artwork and curated others in exhibitions across Canada at galleries including Equinox and Centre A in Vancouver, V-Tape in Toronto, L’oeil de Poison in Quebec City and Eastern Edge in St. John’s, NL. Randy is the former owner of experimental short-term galleries including The Age of Info(rmation), Cutty Contemporary and Good Luck Art Gallery.

For MASSIVE 10, Randy will be honouring the AGO on a milestone event, congratulating all the Massive Party attendees who help make programming at the gallery possible, as well as cheering on the artists who helped create MASSIVE 10. His piece will provide encouragement to all involved while highlighting the spectacle inherent in the event. Don’t miss out on receiving the recognition you deserve as a Massive Party attendee.

Sean Martindale
Sean Martindale is an emerging and internationally recognized interdisciplinary artist and designer currently based in Toronto, Canada. His interventions activate public and semi-public spaces to encourage engagement, often focused on ecological and social issues. Sean’s playful works question and suggest alternate possibilities for existing spaces, infrastructures and materials found in the urban environment. Frequently, Sean uses salvaged goods and live plants in unexpected ways that prompt conversations and interaction.

Sean’s projects have been featured on countless prominent sites online, as well as in traditional media such as print, radio, broadcast television and film. His practice has a global following and has been written about in countries all around the world, and in multiple languages. Sean was profiled for the first episode of the CBC’s Great Minds of Design, one of his lectures was filmed by TVO for their Big Ideas series, and his work was also included in the feature-length documentary This Space Available, released in 2011.

Hazel Meyer
Hazel Meyer is a visual artist and sports enthusiast based in Toronto. She draws pictures, text and comics, makes letterpress prints, screen-printed multiples, broadcasts and constructs physical environments that are used for performance, collaboration, workshops and amateur athletics. From the monumental to the modest her projects range from immersive installations, to small woven tags meant for an audience of one. Much like the tag line of The Litter Game, a collaborative project she started with Lucy Pawlak and Jim Skuldt in 2013, her practice is devoted to a forever shifting ratio of endurance, transgression and laughs, as ways of being in one’s body and the world. She holds an MFA from OCAD University (Toronto), a BFA from Concordia University (Montréal) and shows her work in galleries, artist-run centers and festivals inter/nationally.

Keep an eye out throughout MASSIVE 10 for Hazel’s presentation of NADIA! NADIA! The piece centres around the 1976 Montréal Olympic Games and 14 year old Romanian gymnast Nadia Comăneci who received what was then the first ever 10 to be awarded at the Olympics. The scoreboard used at the time had not been engineered for the four numbers that make up an Olympic 10 (10.00), so it was displayed as 1.00. This moment of utter physical prowess and domination is made even more radical by the inability of the technology to be able to represent it. This discord is the starting point for NADIA! NADIA!.

His practice is a study in extremes. As a musical performer, TALWST (né Curtis Santiago) is larger-than-life. As a visual artist, he has spent the better part of six years building miniature dioramas, entire worlds that fit in the palm of your hand. TALWST creates exquisite landscapes inhabited by vivid characters—hand-painted and reconstructed Preiser’s figurines—freezing memories and moments inside reclaimed ring boxes. From 2007 to 2010, he apprenticed under Aboriginal artist Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun. In the past six years, TALWST has had six solo exhibitions in Toronto, New York, Edmonton and Vancouver. As a recording artist, he’s collaborated with Grammy-winning producer Illangelo to release his fourth solo album, Alien Tentacle Sex, to international acclaim in 2012.

For MASSIVE 10, TALWST is scaling up and exploring interactivity and spectatorship in a one-night-only piece. Dynasty 10-0 plays off the Massive party theme, 10, and builds on previous artwork examining Canadiana, race and identity construction. For Dynasty 10-0, TALWST is incorporating new media, textiles and performance. Influenced more by Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival than participatory art, TALWST seeks to create the same spirit of role-play, interaction and fete. Instead of traditional Carnival characters he has cast actors to portray hockey players and coach dressing for the fictional team the Massives. The participation of event attendees will play a pivotal part in how this happening unfolds.

Melanie Cantwell
Melanie Cantwell is an interior decorator, stylist and set designer. Originally from Prince Edward Island, Melanie now resides in downtown Toronto and has a number of art and interior design-based projects on her list of accomplishments, ranging from residential clients and styling for a variety of design-based photo shoots. Melanie is currently the set decorator on the Steven and Chris show on CBC where she oversees the set styling and manages the look and aesthetic of each individual segment. Melanie studied fine arts and graduated with accreditations in advertising and marketing from Sheridan College and interior decorating from George Brown College.

At MASSIVE 10, see Melanie’s set design at the Aimia photo booth. Guests will be able to have their photos taken while wishing the AGO’s Massive Party a “Happy 10th Birthday” surrounded by sweet confections, balloons and other special touches befitting of this milestone celebration.

Filthy Gorgeous
Filthy Gorgeous is the seductive alias of Toronto born DJ, Kristin Leeder. After bursting onto the scene in 2007, Filthy Gorgeous forged an identity with sensual, rhythmic styles that immediately set her apart from her peers. With sets that draw on cutting edge dance music Filthy Gorgeous has become known for a sound that is both rich and complex. She has performed with and received praise from the world’s top international superstar musician/DJs such as Skrillex, Drake, Disclosure, Annie Mac, Nero, Flight Facilities, The Twelves, Tensnake, Theophiles London, Fred Falk and Alvin Risk.

From playing at local Toronto hot spot, The Hoxton, to sold out shows at The Fillmore Miami Beach, New York’s Webster Hall, a regular at various SOHO House locations and special events during Winter Music Conference (WMC), Filthy Gorgeous always leaves the crowd wanting more. A favourite amongst the fashion crowd she has developed long-lasting relationships and played events for some of the world’s leading Fashion and Lifestyle brands. Filthy Gorgeous continues to win fans by building her reputation as an exciting international DJ talent. Constantly evolving and never afraid to take risks, she has made it clear that Filthy Gorgeous is one to watch out for.

Johnny Hockin
Johnny Hockin is a Canadian DJ, musician and multimedia producer. He is a local Toronto fixture, using his wide-ranging taste and an eclectic repertoire to link classic soul, disco, rock, hip hop and electronic music into a sound uniquely his own. He consistently plays for high-end corporate clients and some of the city’s favourite rooms (from Soho House to Thomson to the Drake Hotel to L’Oreal Fashion Week).

He is also known to many Canadians as the former face of movies on MTV Canada, interviewing hundreds of filmmakers and stars. Over the course of 5 years, Ryan Gosling brooded with him, Nic Cage looked at him funny, George Clooney charmed him, Jason Bateman made fun of his name and Justin Timberlake sang to him. Werner Herzog follows him on twitter.

DJ Soundbwoy
Wake up world. Wake up to the aural mindtrip that is the Soundbwoy experience. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada – the city that comes alive when everyone else is asleep – Soundbwoy is the embodiment of what is needed to lead the next generation of music connoisseurs into a new dimension of existence. Unbound by convention, Soundbwoy offers those in attendance the ability to transcend the dance floor and travel on paths only found in dream sequences. He is far from mash up yet incapable of being categorized by any one genre; a musical everyman blessed with the gift of virtuosity behind the turntables. From soulful gems found through countless hours of crate digging to the most ominous of house anthems from the sun swept beaches of Ibiza, a Soundbwoy party is like travelling with a master storyteller crafting his latest fairytale while touching the deepest parts of your imagination. Feel the party transform into your personal looking glass and let Soundbwoy guide you through his universe like no one else can.
Wake up world.

Joseph & The Mercurials / Joseph Of Mercury
Born to the dying synthesized bells of the 80s. Reincarnated from the velvet gentleman of the 50s. Stark Dark & Echo Heavy. Influenced more by the haunting sounds of nature & cinema than by music itself, Joseph spins cavernous worlds of light & ocean, longing & romance… all with nothing more than his voice & the mournful call of a swooning guitar. Seduced by the beauty of fashion & design, enraptured in its drama & detail, Joseph cloaks himself in the colours of their world, as they are enveloped by the echoes of his sound. Each song has found its rightful place among the works of Victoria’s Secret, RW&Co., Members Only, Stockholm S/S/A/W, Fashion Magazine, & V Spain. As if by desire & fate. Desire is everything.

For more information about MASSIVE 10, visit

Remembering Itee Pootoogook

March 21st, 2014

We were deeply saddened to hear of the passing of leading contemporary Inuit artist Itee Pootoogook (born 1951) following a battle with cancer. Itee created distinct and powerful images of life in the north and was best known in recent years for his large format drawings. His works have the haunting simplicity of Alex Colville’s paintings, while bringing a scale and monumentality to the details and daily rituals of contemporary Inuit life. Along with fellow Inuit artists Shuvinai Ashoona, Tim Pitsiuolak and Jutai Toonoo, Itee brought international and critical attention to an important and bold new approach to art in the north and inspired an emerging generation of artists. He will be missed and has left us too soon.

The AGO has been committed to Itee Pootoogook through the acquisition of a dozen works including Fuel Tank (above), acquired in 2012.

—Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art

Saying goodbye to The Great Upheaval (and thanks to our visitors)

March 20th, 2014

More than 140,000 people visited The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 at the Art Gallery of Ontario between November 30, 2013, and March 2, 2014. The exhibition was a rare opportunity to see works by a large group of outstanding artists — including Chagall, Kandinsky, Matisse, Modigliani, Mondrian and Picasso — from the collection of the Guggenheim Museum, New York.

The exhibition’s attendance ranks it close to other recent popular exhibitions at the Gallery: Ai Weiwei: According to What? and David Bowie is both drew crowds of about 145,000 each.

Thanks to everyone who helped bring it together, inside and outside the Gallery, especially to our friends at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York, lead sponsor BMO Financial Group, generous supporters Gail & Mark Appel and Joan & Jerry Lozinski and hotel partner Eaton Chelsea Toronto. And to all 142,360 of you who visited the exhibition: we hope you’ll be back. Keep sharing your thoughts with us on Facebeook and at @agotoronto on Twitter and Instagram.

The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 was made possible by lead sponsor BMO Financial Group, generous supporters Gail & Mark Appel and Joan & Jerry Lozinski and hotel partner Eaton Chelsea Toronto.

Conservation Notes: Kress Fellow Tessa Thomas and posters of the Belle Époque

March 19th, 2014

Tessa Thomas and a Toulouse-Lautrec poster.

Tessa Thomas and a Toulouse-Lautrec poster.

The Samuel H. Kress Foundation provides yearly grants to cultural heritage institutions to support a conservation training fellowship; only nine awards for Kress Conservation Fellowships were presented for the 2013/2014 year and the AGO is pleased that the foundation selected us to receive a grant. Maria Sullivan, manager of Conservation at the AGO, calls the fellowship for emerging conservators — administered by the Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation — “a unique opportunity for the AGO and for conservation training in Canada.”

“Having a Kress Fellow here in the AGO Paper Conservation Lab is such a wonderful way to engage with our fabulous collection, with dynamic discussion and sharing of conservation principles and techniques within a large collecting institution,” says Joan Weir, the AGO’s conservator, Works on Paper. Read the rest of this entry »

Listen: Brown Bag Lunch & Talk, with John Elderfield

March 17th, 2014

Why Matisse matters – and de Kooning, Bob Dylan and other great moderns

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Recorded: Jan. 17, 2014, in Baillie Court, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 01:06:15

A leading authority on modern art, John Elderfield offers us an in-depth and insightful look at Henri Matisse and his ongoing relevance in contemporary art and culture. Elderfield brings a wealth of knowledge to this talk, as an independent curator and art historian, a consultant to Gagosian Gallery and as chief curator emeritus of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, where he directed more than 20 exhibitions, including Fauvism and its Affinities (1976), Kurt Schwitters (1985), de Kooning: A Retrospective (2011), and Henri Matisse: A Retrospective (1992).

This one-hour talk included a self-serve brown bag lunch of a sandwich and small pastry, created by the AGO’s culinary team.

The Brown Bag Lunch & Talk series is generously supported by

  • Maxine Granovsky Gluskin & Ira Gluskin

In association with

  • The Drawing Room

This month in Prints and Drawings: Date with Dada

March 11th, 2014

Valentine Hugo (French 1890-1968), Tristan Tzara (Romanian 1896-1963), Yves Tanguy (French 1900-1955), Paul Eluard (French 1895-1952), Nusch Eluard (French 1906-1946).                                                                                                 Cadavre Exquis  c. 1931 crayon on black paper                                                                                                       31.5 x 24.1 cm Purchased as a gift of the Trier-Fodor Foundation with the assistance of a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2012 2012/6

Valentine Hugo (French 1890-1968), Tristan Tzara (Romanian 1896-1963), Yves Tanguy (French 1900-1955), Paul Eluard (French 1895-1952), Nusch Eluard (French 1906-1946). Cadavre Exquis, c. 1931, crayon on black paper, 31.5 x 24.1 cm. Purchased as a gift of the Trier-Fodor Foundation with the assistance of a Movable Cultural Property grant accorded by the Department of Canadian Heritage under the terms of the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, 2012.

This March the AGO’s Prints and Drawings department invites you to join them for a Date with Dada, the newest edition of its monthly Date with [Art] series.

Each Wednesday throughout the month, stop by the Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre for the Open Door program, running from 1 to 8 p.m. Enjoy tours of the Study Centre and see original works by original works by Dada artists including Jean Arp, Max Ernst and Marcel Duchamp. Before 5 p.m., you can even ask staff members to bring specific works out from storage for viewing.

“Kicking the Traces: Dada 1916-1923” is the title of this month’s Second Friday Talk, happening on March 14 at 11 a.m. (the Study Centre doors open at 10:30 a.m. for viewing works). This is a free talk by one of our wonderful Prints and Drawings volunteers, featuring original works by Dada artists.

Have questions about Prints and Drawings at the AGO? Leave them in the comments below.

Listen: Meet the Artist, with Paul Graham

March 10th, 2014

Paul Graham, Untitled (Smoking girl in orange light)Paul Graham,
Untitled (Smoking girl in orange light), 1996–98, from the series end of an age.
Chromogenic print, 179.5 x 133.7 cm.
Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz, 2000. 2000/1348 © Paul Graham; courtesy Pace Gallery and Pace/MacGill Gallery, New York.

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Recorded: Oct. 17, 2013, at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 1:23:13

Paul Graham is a British photographer based in New York. Lauded as “a profound force for renewal of the deep photographic tradition of engagement with the world,” he was awarded the 2012 Hasselblad award for major achievements in photography.

In conjunction with the exhibition Light My Fire: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography

Generously supported by Penny Rubinoff

Signature Partner, Photography Collection Program

A hands-on experience with the Thomson Collection

March 4th, 2014

The touchscreen recently installed in the Thomson Collection of European Art (Gallery 107). Photo by Craig Boyko/Art Gallery of Ontario.

The touchscreen recently installed in the Thomson Collection of European Art (Gallery 107). Photo by Craig Boyko/Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Thomson Collection of European Art at the Art Gallery of Ontario includes about 900 objects, mainly northern European sculpture and decorative arts dating from the early Middle Ages to the mid-19th century.

In addition to the collection’s cornerstone artwork, Peter Paul Rubens’ The Massacre of the Innocents, it has both sacred and secular objects including a renowned group of medieval and Baroque ivories, as well as fine examples of silver, Limoges enamel, boxwood carving, medieval manuscripts, carved portrait medallions and nearly 100 portrait miniatures from the 16th to the 19th centuries. It’s a varied collection that captures visitors’ interest, and they’ve told us that they want to know more.

Staff from our Digital Services department worked hard to create a new entry point to the Thomson Collection, in the form of an interactive touchscreen. You’ll find the screen close to the AGO’s entrance (Gallery 107), a room that also contains two paintings (from the Thomson Collection’s Canadian works), a ship model and a vitrine full of small objects from the European Collection.

These objects and paintings represent the Thomson Collection’s European, Canadian and Ship Model components, and each object has a story behind it and reason, including why Ken Thomson collected and appreciated it. In addition to getting an introduction to Thomson and the legacy of his collection, visitors can learn about the objects in depth by selecting them on the touchscreen. They are also directed to other spaces in the Gallery with more of the same kind of object.

Photo by Craig Boyko/Art Gallery of Ontario.

Photo by Craig Boyko/Art Gallery of Ontario.

How’d we do it?

The display screen is Microsoft’s 55-inch Perceptive Pixel touch display (learn more about it here). To get the project up and running, AGO photographers had to re-shoot each item using “focus stacking.” This process extends the depth of field in a shot (making more of it in sharp focus) without losing file data using multiple exposures and post-production software.

A folding knife with boxwood handle from the Thomson Collection of European Art. The image on the right — created using the photo-stacking technique — has an extended depth of field.

A folding knife with boxwood handle from the Thomson Collection of European Art. The image on the right — created using the photo-stacking technique — has an extended depth of field.

A shallow depth of field has always been an issue with macro photography. The objects included in the touchscreen project are almost all very small, so we adopted this photo merging or “stacking” software as a new approach. It allows the viewer to see these detailed objects more clearly than ever before.

What’s next? Our Digital team is full of ideas on how to make the experience even better, including enhanced way-finding and the ability to create personalized tours. We hope you’ll spend a few minutes with the touchscreen on your next visit. And if you’ve already had a chance to try it out, share your thoughts on the experience in the comments below.

Listen: Art & Ideas, A Bird’s Eye View on Art & Extinction

March 3rd, 2014

Sara Angelucci, Aviary (Male Passenger Pigeon/extinct), 2013
Sara Angelucci,
Aviary (Male Passenger Pigeon/extinct),
© 2013 Sara Angelucci.
Courtesy of the artist.
Sara Angelucci, Aviary (Female Passenger Pigeon/extinct), 2013
Sara Angelucci,
Aviary (Female Passenger Pigeon/extinct),
© 2013 Sara Angelucci.
Courtesy of the artist.

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Recorded: Jan. 15, 2014, at Jackman Hall, Art Gallery of Ontario
Duration: 01:31:16

Artist-in-residence Sara Angelucci; writer and historian Matthew Brower, Mark Peck, Royal Ontario Museum Ornithology Technician; and Bridget Stutchbury, author and Professor of Ornithology at York University, gathered to discuss the extinction and endangerment of North American birds as well as art and society’s relationship with the natural environment. The talk was moderated by the AGO’s curator of Canadian Art, Andrew Hunter.

Pigeon-less Pie, Sara Angelucci

The discussion was followed by a three-course meal served in FRANK restaurant, specially prepared by executive chef Jeff Dueck in consultation with Sara Angelucci. The main dish featured a vegetarian “pigeon-less” pie to mark the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon. The passenger pigeon, formerly one of the most abundant birds in North America, was pushed to extinction in 1914 due to habitat destruction and over hunting. Dinner and dessert were each paired with a choice of white or red Ontario wine.


Speaker Bios

Sara Angelucci is a Toronto-based visual artist who works primarily with photography, video and audio, exploring vernacular archival materials such as home movies, snap-shots and vintage portraits and their limited ability to convey the exact sense of a lived experience. Working with these images Angelucci seeks to reposition them in the present, shedding light on their broader context and histories outside of the frame.

Matthew Brower is a lecturer in Museum Studies in the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. He writes on issues in animal studies, the history and theory of photography and contemporary art. He is the Author of Developing Animals: Wildlife and Early American Photography (University of Minnesota Press 2010). He has curated exhibitions in historical and contemporary art including Mieke Bal: Nothing is Missing, Gord Peteran: Recent Works, The Brothel Without Walls, Suzy Lake: Political Poetics, and Collective Identity │Occupied Spaces.

Mark Peck is the Collection Manager in Ornithology, Department of Natural History, Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto. He is also involved in museum exhibits and programs and field research in South America, New Jersey and the Hudson Bay Lowlands of northern Ontario. In addition, he is the coordinator of the Ontario Nest Records Scheme, the ROM liaison for the Ontario Bird Records Committee and the program director for the Toronto Ornithological Club. In his off hours he is an avid bird photographer, traveling extensively for both his profession and his hobby. He has authored or coauthored numerous scientific and popular articles on birds and hundreds of his images have been published in books, magazines and on websites. Mark has been with the ROM since 1983.

Bridget Stutchbury is a professor in the Department of Biology at York University, Toronto. She completed her M.Sc. at Queen’s University and her PhD at Yale and was a postdoctoral fellow at the Smithsonian Institution. Since the 1980s, she has studied migratory songbirds to understand their behaviour, ecology and conservation. Her current research focuses on studying the incredible migration journeys of songbirds to help halt the severe declines in many species. She serves on the board of Wildlife Preservation Canada and is the author of Silence of the Songbirds (2007) and The Bird Detective (2010).