Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Art Matters Blog

Focus on photography

May 6th, 2019

Jaromir Funke. Abstraction, 1925-1930. Gelatin silver print, Sheet: 23.1 × 29.2 cm. Malcolmson Collection. Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson in partnership with a private donor, 2014. © Art Gallery of Ontario 2014/550

The largest annual photography festival in the world has returned! The annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival is back with amazing exhibitions and programs taking over the city, and the AGO is proud to be a partner once again.

This year’s Festival showcases an outstanding selection of work from Canadian and international photographers, including the works in our exhibition, Photography, Women in Focus: 1920s–1940s. It’s curated by Julie Crooks, the AGO’s Assistant Curator of Photography, and presented in collaboration with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Lotte Jacobi, Portrait of Claire Bauroff, Berlin, around 1928; printed 1979. Gelatin silver print, Overall (sheet): 22.8 x 16.5 cm. Gift of Sandra Ball and Marcia Reid, 1987. © The University of New Hampshire. Used with Permission 87/335.1

Photography, Women in Focus: 1920s–1940s highlights photographs from the AGO Collection, along with key loans, that focus on women both behind and in front of the camera. The photographs capture a time of profound socio-cultural changes. Women stood out as powerful figures in this moment—fighting for new freedoms, breaking down social stereotypes, and interrogating the world around them.

Look through the lens of some of the most talented photographers of this era on Level 1 in the Edmond G. Odette Family Gallery (Gallery 128), including Dutch photographer Germaine Krull, who said, “The photographer is a witness. The witness of her era.”

Also included in the Gallery is work from German artist Hannah Höch, who asserted herself as a liberated Neue Frau (New Woman) and pioneered a form of photo collage; Italian-born Tina Modotti whose politics informed her documentary style and subject matter, including working-class Mexicans; and American photographer Barbara Morgan, best known for her arresting series of photographs featuring modern dancer Martha Graham.

Tina Modotti. El Machete, 1926. gelatin silver print, Sheet: 23.8 × 18.8 cm . Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson, 2015. © Art Gallery of Ontario 2015/248

Adjacent to the main display, in the Robert & Cheryl McEwen Gallery (Gallery 129), is the projection of Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy’s avant-garde film Ballet mécanique (1924). The film with its dissonant score expresses at once an anxious yet playful relationship between humans and machines. Photography, Women in Focus: 1920s–1940s is on now until November 10 and is included with General Admission.

Other must-see exhibitions and programs of the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival are on now throughout the city. A special focus of this year’s festival is the work of acclaimed artist Carrie Mae Weems, on view across five locations in Toronto. This is Weems’s first solo presentation in Canada. Through her photographic works spanning three decades, she uses photographic imagery to confront racial stereotypes and violence in Blending the Blues at the CONTACT Gallery or catch her spotlight on Black women in popular culture in Slow Fade To Black at Metro Hall.

Check out a full list of the 2019 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival exhibitions and events on now.

Are you an AGOinsider yet? If not, sign up to have stories like these delivered straight to your inbox every week.

Comments are closed.