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Revealing our skeletons

September 25th, 2017

Francisco de Goya. A way of flying (Modo de volar), Plate 13 from “Los Proverbios”, c. 1819  – 1824. Etching, aquatint, lavis, burnisher, drypoint and burin on paper, 24.2 x 35.1 cm. Gift of The Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust, 1999.

The monsters are coming…

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters opens to the public this Saturday, September 30, and bringing this remarkable exhibition together has been a lesson in embracing the inner monster in all of us.

Here are a few of the AGO’s gems being shown alongside del Toro’s oddities:

Francisco de Goya

This Spanish artist is famous for his nightmarish drawings and paintings, inspiring generations of horror lovers and gothic styles. His etching A way of flying (Modo de volar), c. 1819–1824 [above], is encountered as you enter the exhibition, and his influence ripples throughout the rest of the Gallery.

Francisco de Goya, Funereal folly (Disparate funebre), Plate 18 from “Los Proverbios”, ca. 1819–1824. Etching, aquatint, lavis, burnisher, drypoint and burin on paper, 24.2 x 35.1 cm. Gift of The Robert Tanenbaum Family Trust, 1999.

Skulls from the Thomson Collection

Exhibition curator Shedden said that legendary art collector Kenneth Thomson began with a simple motto, “Buy what you love”— it’s also the idea that guides Guillermo del Toro’s art purchases. And while AGO visitors may not immediately think of the macabre when they think of the Thomson Collection, a small assortment of carefully sculpted skulls of ivory, silver, and wood are some of Thomson’s earlier purchases. Jim says he’s proud to showcase this side of the AGO Collection in At Home with Monsters.

Books from The Grange House

Jim also says del Toro’s Bleak House collection is made up of books more than anything else—and the AGO has powerfully emphasized the filmmaker’s literary interests. For example, custom-built bookcases are the temporary home for about 2,000 books from The Grange, the original home of the Gallery. Look closely and you’ll find some particularly appropriate titles, like Jane Eyre and an entire collection of Edgar Allan Poe anthologies.

Evan Penny, Stretch #1, 2003. Silicone, pigment, hair, fabric. 280.5 x 54.4 x 18 cm. Gift of David and Kristin Ferguson, 2008. 2008/124 © Evan Penny.

Evan Penny

This mind-bending Toronto-based artist is beloved for his detailed, lifelike sculptures that he distorts into unreal shapes, like Stretch #1. This piece follows an over-the-top celebration of comic art, offering a moment of stillness and close inspection, before moving on to one of the exhibition highlights next to it—a five-foot bust of Frankenstein’s monster by sculptor Mike Hill.

 

John Scott, Untitled (bunny with wings), 1996. Blood, ink (or latex paint) and oil stick on paper. Sheet: 91.5 x 61 cm. Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz, 1999. 99/605 © John Scott.

John Scott, Untitled (Skull), 1996. Chalk and oil stick on wove paper. Sheet: 91.8 x 61.2 cm. Gift of Alison and Alan Schwartz, 1999. 99/604 © John Scott.

John Scott

These works by Canadian artist John Scott, best known for Trans-Am Apocalypse No. 2 (a real Pontiac Trans-Am with text scratched into its surface from the Book of Revelation of St. John the Evangelist) have never been shown at the AGO before. They are a rough, frenzied and energetic contrast to the skillful control of the rest of the exhibition. Of course, Scott’s visual chaos is entirely purposeful and deliberate, as well.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters opens to the public this Saturday. Get your tickets!

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