The AGO is chock-full of Valentine’s Day activities this week, including a special Yayoi Kusama-inspired prix-fixe at AGO Bistro, a Valentine’s Day tea in the Members’ Lounge all week, romantic gift ideas at shopAGO, Valentine crafts for the whole family (and a good cause), and more.
If you haven’t noticed, the AGO loves love. The spiral staircase was designed by architect Frank Gehry to narrow in certain areas so visitors become physically close—maybe striking up a conversation and seeing if sparks fly.
No matter your relationship status, the AGO is the perfect place to visit this Valentine’s Day. We’ve got the perfect paintings to see, whether you’re coupled up, fiercely independent or somewhere in between.
Les Sabots (The Wooden Shoes), François Boucher (1768)
Boucher was famous for his boudoir paintings – images that were very romantic, sexual and sentimental. A perfect example, this artwork is based on a comic opera about two lovers and a pair of shoes – a traditional erotic symbol.
Find it in the Frank P. Wood Gallery on the first floor.
For longing in love:
“‘I am half sick of shadows,’ said the Lady of Shalott” (Alfred, Lord Tennyson, The Lady of Shalott, Part II), John William Waterhouse (1915)
This painting depicts the Lady of Shalott from an Alfred, Lord Tennyson, poem. In it, the Lady of Shalott lives in a castle on an island beside Camelot, cursed to never look outside her window and only see the world through her mirror’s reflection—those reflected images are described as “shadows of the world.” But, when she sees the knight Lancelot reflected in her mirror, she’s so struck by him that she looks out the window, leaves her tower and gets in a boat to travel to Camelot. She dies before reaching Lancelot at the palace, but he greatly admires her beauty.
Find it in the Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery on the first floor.
If you’re in love with being alone:
Breaking Up of a Country Ball in Canada, Early Morning, (The Morning after a Merrymaking in Lower Canada), Cornelius Krieghoff (1857)
More time on your own means more time for your friends. Cornelius Krieghoff’s paintings of merrymaking – people enjoying themselves with others, especially by dancing and drinking – tell us that life is to be lived. Take a look around this gallery – this isn’t the only wild party he painted.
Find it in the Thompson Collection of Canadian Art on the second floor.
Trees in the Sky, Emily Carr (1939)
What’s better than human companionship? Being surrounded by the immeasurable power of nature. Emily Carr spent most of her life in British Columbia, and the Pacific Northwest’s towering redwoods and pines were among her favourite subjects to paint. Her delicate but powerful trees remind us that we are just a tiny part of a vast, swirling universe.
Find it in the Fudger Rotunda on the first floor.
Whether you’re travelling solo or in a duo, check out these artworks.
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