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Archive: December, 2015

11 gift ideas for everyone on your list (and we mean everyone).

December 15th, 2015

(Don’t forget: shopAGO has extended holiday hours to give you a helping hand!)

Gift of Membership

AGO membership, from $45

Treat someone to a year of unlimited admission to the AGO’s collections and exhibitions, special events and previews, and much more.

Get it in store or online at



Colouring Books

Colouring books, from $16.99

Encourage DIY creativity (and stress relief) with these inky adventure colouring books, including Splendid Cities, Johanna Basford’s lost world series, and urban geographer Daniel Rotsztain’s All the Libraries Toronto.

Get them in store or online at



Retail product

Turner-inspired merchandise, from $10

For the Anglophile or extreme-weather enthusiast, these products inspired by Turner’s time and art will prove stylish (and handy).

Get them in store or online at




Art books and exhibition catalogues, from $34

Help them up their coffee table game with these eye-popping page-turners from past AGO exhibitions and contemporary artists.

Get them in store or online at


DIY Electro Dough kit, $33.95

Just like regular Doh, but with lights and buzzers.

Get it in store or online at





Gnome crayons, $15.95

Bavarian Gnomes! Need we say more? All right: colouring just got a little bit more fun.

Get it in store or online at




Children’s books, from $17.95

Early readers can discover the adventures of Sam and Dave, The Secret life of Squirrels, and Canadian illustration sensation Kate Beaton’s whimsical first children’s book, The Princess and the Pony.

Get them in store or online at



Racoon ornaments

Roost Raccoon Bandit Ornaments, $18/ea

Crafted from felt and costumed for a life of crime, these six distinct critters clutch ropes, pouches, and foolproof plans for taking over your Green Bin.

Get them in store at shopAGO.



Retail Holiday Gift Guide

Coffee stencils, $11

Easy-to-use (and holiday friendly) coffee stencils for the burgeoning barista in your life.

Get them in store or online at



Areaware Drink Rock Shapes 003

Drink rocks, $54

Sculptural masterworks that, once chilled, keep your spirits undiluted (and look cool on a bar table).

Get them in store or online at



Retail Holiday Gift Guide

Table tiles, $24

Cocktail masters can fight stains and make a decorative statement with these mosaic-tiled coasters.

Get them in store or online at


Proceeds from your purchase directly support world-class programming at the AGO, arts and culture in Canada.




Why this artist needs your fingerprints

December 8th, 2015

By Jon Davies, Assistant Curator of Contemporary Art

Micah Lexier (born Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, 1960), A work of art in the form of a quantity of coins equal to the number of months of the statistical life expectancy of a child born January 6, 1995, 1995, metal, wood and enamel paint. Purchased with financial support of the Canada Council for the Arts Acquisition Assistance program, 1997, (97/5).

Toronto-based artist Micah Lexier’s practice draws on autobiography, portraiture and his close relationships, and he often translates this personal subject matter into acts of counting, mark-making and collecting. Intimate and emotional content therefore becomes a kind of information.

This work in the AGO collection uses 906 specially fabricated coins to tick down the statistical life expectancy of an imagined child born on January 6, 1995. Each coin is numbered, and one coin is transferred on the 6th of each month from one box to another until all the coins have been transferred, the orderly rows of the origin box giving way to the chaotic pile of the destination box. Lexier’s work traces the passage of time and, by requiring human contact every month, suggests that we cannot live our lives alone but must depend on the care and assistance of others.

Vitally, the coins are meant to be handled with hands — not gloves — so that each individual’s fingerprints mark a coin and become part of the work. Coins are a recurring form in Lexier’s work. They combine the intimate and the global as we carry them around on our person, but they are part of a system much bigger than any individual. Also, each coin begins life identical to the others, but as it travels from hand to hand they each age and wear differently, becoming distinct.

Join the coin transfer
A work of art in the form… is currently on view in the 5th floor exhibition Many things brought from one climate to another, a display of contemporary art from the AGO’s collection. The work acts as a rite of passage that AGO visitors can witness over the course of their own lives—and, from now until until July 6, 2070, members of the public are invited to participate in this monthly activation. If you are interested in transferring a coin, contact

Canadian illustrator Kate Beaton draws #TurnerAGO

December 3rd, 2015

I love the images and descriptions of Turner on Varnishing Day. There are quite a few sketches by other artists of the man going about his business in those very public events, depicting how people were paying attention to him. This illustration shows a cross section of reactions to his work — adoring, loathing, jealousy, wonder and everywhere in between, all in one place.  “He has been here and fired a gun.”

— Kate Beaton

We asked the Canadian illustrator and New York Times bestselling graphic novelist of Hark! A Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops to put her spin on #TurnerAGO and the British master’s inner (and extended) circles.

1 — J.M.W. Turner, the painter of light.

2 — John Constable, the British landscape painter, was Turner’s “frenemy.” He described his rival as “uncouth, with a wonderful range of mind” but also praised his technique: “He seems to paint with tinted steam, so evanescent, and so airy.”

3 — James Abbott McNeill Whistler was an American painter and printmaker who spent most of his career in Europe. He saw Turner’s work when he was a young man, and admired the paintings’ lack of finish, and their depiction of light and atmosphere. Like Turner, he enjoyed working directly from nature, often at dawn or dusk. He was inspired by the British master to visit Venice, and like him loved the reflections in the water.

4 – Claude Monet, the French Impressionist painter, saw Turner’s paintings in an exhibition in London in the early 1870s. He was influenced by him and proclaimed “Turner painted with open eyes.”

5 – Claude Debussy, the French composer, called Turner “the finest creator of mystery in the whole of art.” Both men were inspired by the many moods of nature — from the tranquil reflections in water to the wilds of storms at sea.

6 – Mrs. Sophia Booth, a landlady, was Turner’s companion in his late life. Being intensively secretive, Turner concealed their 18-year relationship even while they lived together in London. To their neighbours, he was Mr. Booth, Admiral Booth, or (our favourite) “Puggy” Booth.

7 and 8 – Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were not amused by Turner’s paintings, their lack of finish, and excessive use of yellow.

9 – John Ruskin, the British art critic and friend of the artist, called Turner “the greatest man of his age, eccentric, highlight intellectual, hating humbug of all sorts.” A huge champion of the painter, Ruskin was a serious groupie.