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Take it slow at the AGO

April 1st, 2019

Jean-Léon Gérôme. The Antique Pottery Painter: Sculpturae vitam insufflat pictura, 1893. Oil on canvas, Overall: 50.1 x 68.8 cm. Gift from the Junior Women’s Committee Fund, 1969. © Art Gallery of Ontario 69/31

With all the stress and chaos of modern life, it can be hard to find time to slow down, relax and connect with your inner art lover. We can help. Join us on Saturday, April 6 for Slow Art Day at the AGO.

In a nutshell, all you need to do to participate in Slow Art Day is to visit your local gallery or art museum, pick five works and spend 10 minutes looking at each. The goal: relax and connect with works of art by spending time looking at the finer details. The result: this meditative process helps you build a deeper appreciation for the art, sometimes allowing you to feel unexpected emotions and create connections with each work.

In preparation for this year’s Slow Art Day, we asked some of our AGO Gallery Guides to pick five works from the AGO Collection they’d recommend to spend some (slow) time with.

Jean-Léon Gérôme – The Antique Pottery Painter: Sculpturæ vitam insufflat picture (1893)

The incredible detail in the painting above needs to be seen to be believed. Initially, your eyes may be drawn to the small figures painted in bright colours. Look closer at the image of the painter; the detail of her toes or tip of her brush. Look closer still and you might also notice the conversation taking place with a cloaked figure in the courtyard. Makes you wonder: What are they talking about? This work is on view on Level 1 in the Richard Barry Fudger Memorial Gallery, Gallery 125.

Agnes Martin – The Rose (1964)

In contrast to Gérôme, Agnes Martin’s work is best known for a rigorous commitment to abstraction. Martin was a strong believer in the power of art to conjure emotions like happiness, or freedom. Spend time with the subtle lines of The Rose, and you may find yourself feeling something unexpected too. Check it out on Level 1 in the Philip B. Lind Gallery, Gallery 132.

Agnes Martin. The Rose, 1964. Oil, red and black pencil, sizing on canvas, Overall: 182.6 x 182.7 cm (71 7/8 x 71 15/16 in.). Purchase with assistance from Wintario, 1979. © Art Gallery of Ontario 78/751

René Magritte – L’Anniversaire (1959)

Magritte is well known for his realistic representations of everyday objects in unexpected locations and combinations. L’Anniversaire is no exception. Spend ten minutes with this painting and you may leave with more questions than answers, such as: Why is there a huge rock in the living room? L’Anniversaire is on view on Level 1 in the Marvin Gelber Gallery, Gallery 136.  

René Magritte. L’Anniversaire, 1959. Oil on canvas, Unframed: 89.7 × 116.2 cm. Purchase, Corporations’ Subscription Endowment, 1971. © Art Gallery of Ontario 70/7

Rita Letendre – Daybreak (1983)

It’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by Letendre’s Daybreak. Inspired by the Automatist movement, where artists turn off their conscious thoughts and just create, Letendre uses colour and form to provoke subconscious emotions and create a sense of boundless, otherworldly freedom. Spending time with this colossal work, you can almost feel the cool blues and electric oranges creating what Letendre describes as a “hair-trigger” intensity. This wonderful work is on view on Level 2 in the Molly & George Gilmour Gallery, Gallery 233.

Rita Letendre. Daybreak, 1983. Acrylic on canvas, 198 x 365.8 cm. Gift of Dr. Michael J. Sole in honour of Rita Letendre and Kosso Eloul, 2006. © 2019 Rita Letendre 2006/168

Luca Giordano – Battle of the Gods and the Giants (1692)

It takes a big canvas to portray a battle between gods and giants! Ten minutes will fly by as you get swept away in the epic battle between the Greek Gods of Olympus and the giants. Look closely and you’ll notice many of the finer details, especially in the background. How many figures do you see? What is the artist doing to create the sensation of dynamic movement we see? Spend some time with this work on Level 1 in the Walter C. Laidlaw Gallery, Gallery 119.

Luca Giordano. Battle of the Gods and the Giants, c. 1692. Oil on canvas, Overall: 222 x 258.5 cm. Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Gilbert Bagnani, 1988. © Art Gallery of Ontario 88/300

Slow Art Day takes place this Saturday, April 6. Gallery Tours will be available throughout the day, or you can take yourself on your own tour of five works in the AGO Collection

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