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#BasquiatAGO: Thelma Golden on artists as catalysts of cultural change

March 4th, 2015

My interest is in artists who understand and re-write history, who think about themselves within the narrative of the larger world of art but who have created new places for us to see and understand.
— Thelma Golden

Watch Thelma Golden’s February 2013 TED-Ed talk on her mission to use her position as director and chief curator at the Studio Museum in Harlem to create a new art history narrative. To accomplish this, she says, she had to “see the way in which artists work, understand the artist studio as laboratory, imagine then reinventing the museum as a think tank and [look] at the exhibition as the ultimate white paper.”

Golden will be speaking at the AGO on March 28 as part of the Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time Symposium. Learn more and book tickets here.

Reflections on Spiegelman: Nina Bunjevac

March 3rd, 2015

Art Spiegelman’s work has had a profound impact on artists around the world. We asked Canadian cartoonists, graphic novelists and comics experts how Spiegelman has influenced their own work and the creation and dissemination of comics and graphic novels.

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Any cartoonist who doesn’t realize that Spiegelman had paved our way, twice, is a fool. He first did it with Raw, and then again with Maus.

I would not be doing what I am doing now were it not for having been exposed to both. It’s that simple.

—Nina Bunjevac, cartoonist

See Bunjevac’s original drawings from her graphic novel Fatherland in Out of the Fatherland until summer 2015 in the Canadian galleries (Level 2). Visit her website to learn more about Bunjevac and her work.


Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective runs to March 15, 2015.


#BasquiatAGO: Get involved by #crowningheroes on Instagram

March 2nd, 2015

We’re excited to announce a city-wide Instagram program celebrating the exhibition Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time.

Basquiat’s groundbreaking and provocative artistic approach translated 1980s New York into a radical visual language, one that gave voice to issues of racism, class struggle, social hypocrisy and black history. Inspired as much by high art as by hip hop, jazz, sports, comics and graffiti, Basquiat used recurring motifs to explore issues that he grappled with in his own life and witnessed in the world around him.

The crown was one of these motifs. It appears on a variety of figures including renowned jazz musicians, such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie; celebrated athletes, including Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Cassius Clay (Muhammad Ali) and Hank Aaron; and even his contemporaries, such as graffiti artist Michael Stewart. Basquiat used crowns, as well as halos, to recognize and celebrate his icons.

We’ve gathered together some of Toronto’s most influential and artistic Instagrammers to provide some #crowningheroes inspiration, and we hope you’ll join them. Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections on Spiegelman: Peter Birkemoe

February 26th, 2015

Art Spiegelman’s work has had a profound impact on artists around the world. We asked Canadian cartoonists, graphic novelists and comics experts how Spiegelman has influenced their own work and the creation and dissemination of comics and graphic novels.

Image courtesy of Peter Birkemoe.

Image courtesy of Peter Birkemoe.

Since the Beguiling opened in 1987, Art’s work has introduced more readers to the medium than any other author — from the adult non-comics readers converted by Maus, to more recently the children who started with Little Lit and Toon books as their first comics.

Even now with a market crowded with books that followed his successes his books are still the books people cite as sparking their love of comics.

—Peter Birkemoe, co-founder of the Toronto Comic Arts Festival and owner of The Beguiling


Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective runs to March 15, 2015.


Reflections on Spiegelman: Michael Deforge

January 26th, 2015

Art Spiegelman’s work has had a profound impact on artists around the world. We asked Canadian cartoonists, graphic novelists and comics experts how Spiegelman has influenced their own work and the creation and dissemination of comics and graphic novels.

MichaelDeForge

Art Spiegelman pushed the edges of what the medium could be, both in the formal experiments in his own comics and in his work as an editor. In Raw especially, Françoise Mouly and Spiegelman provoked such wild and ambitious contributions from their artists. I wish I was reading comics at a time when books like that were dropping on everyone’s heads on a regular basis. It’s hard to think of many editors taking comparable risks anymore.”
—Toronto-based comic artist Michael DeForge

See DeForge’s recent work here, and follow him on Twitter.


Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective runs to March 15, 2015.


Jeet Heer on Spiegelman, Mouly, Crumb, Charlie Hebdo and the underground tradition

January 19th, 2015

With the presentation of Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective at the AGO, we’re aiming to highlight not just the significance of Spiegelman’s career, but also growing importance of comics as a defining cultural form in Toronto. Leading up to and during the exhibition’s run ― Dec. 20, 2014, to March 15, 2015 ― we’re using ArtMatters.ca to share voices from the comics scene in Toronto and beyond, as they discuss Spiegelman’s influence and the connections between his work and a wide variety of genres and art forms. Below, Canadian journalist/historian and Twitter essayist Jeet Heer shares his and Spiegelman’s thoughts on criticism and censorship in relation to the recent tragic events in Paris, arguing that “bad speech has to be answered by more speech.” Read the rest of this entry »

A fond farewell to Alex Colville, and thanks to our visitors

January 16th, 2015

Alex Colville Living  Room, 1999-2000, acrylic on Masonite. 41.8 x 58.5 cm. Purchased 2000. National Gallery of Canada (no. 40408). © A.C.Fine Art Inc

Alex Colville Living Room, 1999-2000, acrylic on Masonite.
41.8 x 58.5 cm. Purchased 2000. National Gallery of Canada (no. 40408). © A.C.Fine Art Inc

When Alex Colville closed on Jan. 4, it had attracted 166,406 visitors, making it the 10th–best attended exhibition in our history. Notably, it is the only exhibition in the top 10 that focused on Canadian art. The Gallery’s last Colville exhibition, which ran from July 22 to September 18, 1983, welcomed 49,984 visitors.

What made this presentation different? Our director and CEO, Matthew Teitelbaum, ascribes the recent exhibition’s success to timing and the universality of Colville’s work: “At the moment of Alex Colville’s passing there was an acknowledgement of what he meant to so many people around the country. He was understood as a truly national figure in a new way. When we made the decision to mount the exhibition, we had confidence that people would respond, because Colville’s story is everybody’s story, which is: there is mystery in life. Life is born of relationships and of the place where you are from, and Colville’s work captures that complex sense of place that lies deep in our psyche.” Read the rest of this entry »

Reflections on Spiegelman: Seth

January 13th, 2015

Art Spiegelman’s work has had a profound impact on artists around the world. We asked Canadian cartoonists, graphic novelists and comics experts how Spiegelman has influenced their own work and the creation and dissemination of comics and graphic novels.

Seth. Image courtesy of the artist.

Seth. Image courtesy of the artist.


Art Spiegelman’s great contribution to the medium of comics was to prove that comics could be ‘real’ art. Before him, it was a debatable notion. After Maus, it was an undeniable fact. I’ve learned more from Spiegelman’s work than can be boiled down into a few sentences or paragraphs, but I think the essential thing I gleaned from Art was ambition. He aims high and ponders deeply on how to fulfill those ambitions. I aimed higher myself after reading his work and I discovered that good work only comes from hard work.

—Guelph, Ont.–based cartoonist Seth


Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective runs to March 15, 2015.


Jeet Heer on Art Spiegelman and “parody/pastiche as the beginning of creativity”

January 2nd, 2015

With the presentation of Art Spiegelman’s CO-MIX: A Retrospective at the AGO, we’re aiming to highlight not just the significance of Spiegelman’s career, but also growing importance of comics as a defining cultural form in Toronto. Leading up to and during the exhibition’s run ― Dec. 20, 2014, to March 15, 2015 ― we’re using ArtMatters.ca to share voices from the comics scene in Toronto and beyond, as they discuss Spiegelman’s influence and the connections between his work and a wide variety of genres and art forms. Below, Canadian journalist/historian and Twitter essayist Jeet Heer Art discusses Spiegelman’s work in relation to parody and suggests “a silly putty mind is conducive to creativity.” Read the rest of this entry »