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Meet the people making #InfinityAGO possible

November 12th, 2018

Image of woman sitting at table painting

Portrait of Yayoi Kusama. © YAYOI KUSAMA. Courtesy YAOYI KUSAMA Inc

We’re off to a great start in our #InfinityAGO crowdfunding campaign to bring an Infinity Mirror Room by acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama to the AGO… forever. We’re so inspired by the outpouring of love and excitement for Kusama’s immersive artwork. Join the thousands of people helping to bring this important work to the AGO for infinity so that as many art fans today and in future generations can experience Kusama’s amazing work. And in the meantime, meet two donors who are helping us make it happen.

Laura Cauchi is a Toronto scientist who has never donated to an art museum – until now. Michael Koerner is a business leader, philanthropist, arts advocate and long-time champion of the AGO. He first began supporting the AGO in 1958. From first-time donors to passionate supporters, #InfinityAGO is for everyone.

We caught up with Laura and Michael to learn more about what inspired them to support #InfinityAGO.

Headshot of #infinityAGO donor and Toronto scientist Laura Cauchi, shot against a blue background.

Laura Cauchi. Image courtesy Laura Cauchi.

AGO: What motivated you to give to #InfinityAGO?
Laura: I was inspired to donate after hearing Stephan Jost [the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO] speak on CBC radio about the Kusama exhibition and the crowdfunding plan. I’ve never donated to a cultural institution before, but the crowdfunding idea resonated with me as a way to become more engaged and invested in the AGO. I love the idea that hopefully decades from now, people can bring their children to the Infinity Mirror Room and tell their children that their grandparents helped in some small way to bring it to the AGO.

AGO: What do you love about Kusama’s artwork?
Laura: I actually know nothing about Kusama’s work. I didn’t see the exhibition at the AGO, but I was excited and moved hearing about the artist’s contribution to contemporary art.

AGO: Why is it important to you to support the arts?
Laura: As an academic and a scientist, supporting the arts is something that’s new to me. My husband and I spend a lot of time trying to teach our children the importance of being well-rounded and this is a great way to demonstrate that to them.

Did you know that #InfinityAGO isn’t the first time the AGO has invited the public to help acquire a work of art? In 1958, we (as the Art Gallery of Toronto back then) wanted to buy the painting Christ Washing His Disciples’ Feet (1545–55), by Jacopo Tintoretto. And much like the gradual unveiling of the Infinity Mirror Room you can see online at InfinityAGO.ca, the Tintoretto painting was revealed to the public slowly, by removing one-by-one-inch squares of paper that covered a reproduction of the painting. Each square was sold to the public for $10.

One of the people who bought a $10 square was a 19-year-old Michael Koerner. Now, 60 years later, Michael is supporting the #InfinityAGO campaign.

Michael Koerner. Image courtesy of Michael Koerner.

AGO: In 1958, what inspired you to help the Gallery buy the Tintoretto painting?
Michael: I knew the painting well. I’d first seen it in London and it’s a great painting. It’s a difficult composition to take in because it’s in so many pieces. I remember back then it was $10 to buy a square inch to help the Gallery acquire the work. It was one of the first times I helped an art museum acquire a piece of art. Since then, I’ve donated artworks and helped museums acquire art many times.

AGO: What motivated you recently to help the AGO bring a Kusama Infinity Mirror Room to the AGO…forever?
Michael: I think it’s very interesting and experimental art. I’m very keen to support contemporary art.

AGO: What do you like about the #InfinityAGO campaign?
Michael: I really like that so many people are coming forward to donate. Over 2,200 people have donated to #InfinityAGO. It’s good for the AGO and for museums in Canada that people are getting more and more engaged. It’s wonderful to see so many people involved in the #InfinityAGO campaign, which I hope will work towards building long-term financial support for the AGO.

For more information about how you can help bring Kusama’s art to the AGO..for infinity and get guaranteed early access to see the artwork, visit InfinityAGO.ca

Want to learn more about Kusama? Read here and here about Kusama’s immersive work that was at the AGO last spring for the exhibition Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors.

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