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Highlights from #AGO1st – February First Thursday

February 8th, 2016

What did you get up to last Thursday? On February 4, 2016, we were kicking off a new season of Toronto’s biggest art party with an evening of artful programming devoted to Beijing avant-garde artist Song Dong and the theme “There’s No Place Like Home.” Over 2,500 #AGO1st guests took in musical headliner Casey Mecija (formely of Toronto band Ohbijou), who performed against stunning GIF visuals by filmmaker Sammy Rawal; pop-up talks from the Syrian Film Festival and AGO Artist-in-Residence Jérôme Havre; artists Alvis Choi (a.k.a Alvis Parsley), Andil Gosine with Matthew Ryan Smith; and music by DJ Stunts (of Yes Yes Y’All) and Cam Lee (Feministry).

Tickets for our next #AGO1st (March 3, 2016) go on sale February 11 at 10am.

Photos after the jump!

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Art with ♥: Valentine’s Day at the AGO

February 4th, 2016

Henry Matisse, La Coeur, date unknown, stencil print on paper, 42.1 x 65 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Mr. Arthur Gelber, 1986

Henry Matisse, La Coeur, date unknown, stencil print on paper, 42.1 x 65 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Mr. Arthur Gelber, 1986

See more (he)artful AGO works on our #ValentinesDay Pinterest Board.

Toronto is loaded with options for Valentine’s Day — spas, restaurants, bars  — but if you’re looking for something unique (or some art to get you through the day), make it a day and night at the gallery, in the company of Frank Stella, Helen Frankenthaler, Christi Belcourt and Henri Matisse.

Share your experiences by tagging #HeartAGO

1. Take the Valentine’s Tour (and the Not-so-Valentine’s Tour)

February 14, 2016, 11am–5:30pm
Artful discussion and themed tours of the AGO’s collection — what’s not to love? In the company of a knowledgeable and engaging AGO Gallery Guide, you’ll visit masterworks that explore themes of romantic love, love of celebrity, love of food, love of nature, break-ups/scorned love, and more. Highlights include works by Alex Colville, Rembrandt, Andy Warhol, and Emily Carr.

1-Hour Highlights Tours (every one is different!): 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm. Meet in Walker Court, Level 1 (If you need directions, head to the Info Kiosk at the entrance.)

On the Dot Tours: Quick, 10-minute art chats. Meet in front of the work On the Dot:

11:30am “Soldier and Girl at Station” by Alex Colville, Room 206
11:30am “The Death of Elaine” by Homer Watson, Room 125
1:30 PM “The Idea Lab,” Room 114
2:30 PM “The Marchesa Casati” by Augustus Edward John, Room 125


2. Give someone some AGO♥

(clockwise from top): Valentine’s Day cards ($4–$5). Umbra Pongo Table Tennis set ($40). Keith Haring box of chocolates ($26). Alessi AL13002 Red Leather Strap Watch ($200).

Finding a Valentine’s Day present may be tricky, but it doesn’t have to be bewildering. Here are few thoughtful and unconventional shopAGO gifts, from playful tokens of friendship for PAL-entine’s Day to over-the-moon romantic gestures for the more-than-just pals.

Where: shopAGO, online or in person


3. Commit… to a 1+1 Membership

Gift of Membership

Say “I want to spend more time with you (and great art)” with a one-year dual-membership ($145).

Where: Online or in person at The Membership Info Desk, Lobby


4. Tell them “I like you a latte”


(Photo: @daneshhanbury)

When the way to their heart is through their coffee, head to the Galleria Italia Espresso Bar for European cappuccinos, lattes, gelato and treats, and a stellar view of Dundas Street West. Perfect to enjoy ensemble or solo.

Where: Level 2, Galleria Italia


5. Visit Drawing, Je t’aime


(Robert Motherwell, Je t’aime, 1955, Ink on paper, Overall: 38.1 x 27.3 cm (15 x 10 3/4 in.). Purchased with funds from an Anonymous Donor, with support from the Dedalus Foundation, 1998)

“Robert Motherwell, a self-admitted Francophile, used this romantic phrase to express his deeply felt passion for artmaking. The calligraphic elements and interplay of text and image produce, in the artist’s words, ‘a desperate cry for love.’”

–Brenda Rix, Manager, Print and Drawing Study Centre

Take in over 100 rarely seen drawings by Jacopo Tintoretto, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Robert Motherwell, Joyce Wieland and Annie Pootoogook, and draw your sweetheart’s self-portrait at our portraiture stations. Free with general admission. Share your #DrawingAGO photos with @agotoronto on Instagram and Twitter.

Where: Level 1, Eaton/Gelber/Elliot Galleries


6. Spiral up the stairway


According to some, architect Frank Gehry designed the Baroque spiral staircase narrower at some points so that “two people, one going up and the other going down, would pass each other closely and fall in love.” Share your #GehryStaircase photos with @agotoronto on Instagram and Twitter.

Where: Walker Court, Level 2


7. Have dinner at FRANK

We call this piece, “The AGO’s FRANK restaurant Valentine’s Day Menu”: Seared scallops with honeycrisp apple in butter froth. Yuk Hwe beef tartare with kimchi and grilled ciabatta. Smoked sabayon and king oyster mushroom ravioli. Duck with roasted butternut squash and port plums. Dark chocolate ganache cake and poached pear tarte. ($85 per guest; or $100 per guest including recommended wine pairings, taxes and gratuity)

When: February 12 & 13, 2016

Where: FRANK Restaurant, Level 1


8. Sip on Afternoon Tea at the Grange


If nothing but the finest recreation of a Downton Abbey high tea will satisfy, then treat yourself (and maybe them too) at the Grange. February 13 & 14, by reservation only; Members’ exclusive only. 

When: February 13 & 14, 2016

Where: Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge, Grange House, Level 1


9. Get crafty with the kids at AGO Family Sundays

Little ones can get in the spirit by creating heart-shaped suncatchers during our special Family Sunday artmaking workshop. Included with general admission.

Where: Weston Family Learning Centre, Concourse Level

#NewLookAGO Twitter Q&A with curator Kenneth Brummel

February 2nd, 2016

Watch the livestream of the talk at 7pm:

We want to hear from you! Join us on Wednesday, February 3 at 7pm for our livestream and livetweet about Jackson Pollock and the generation of artists who came after him.

Kenneth Brummel, Assistant Curator of Modern Art and curator of A New Look: 1960s and ’70s Abstract Painting at the AGOwill be giving a talk on “After Abstract Expressionism: Making Sense of Painting in the 1960s.” We’ll be livestreaming and livetweeting his talk, and we want you to tweet your questions for Kenneth for the Q&A!

Morris Louis, Delta Tau, 1960, aAcrylic resin on canvas, 274.3 x 457.2 cm (108 x 180 in.). Art Gallery of Ontario, gift of the Estate of Marcella Brenner Louis, 2010.

Morris Louis, Delta Tau, 1960, acrylic resin on canvas, 274.3 x 457.2 cm (108 x 180 in.). Art Gallery of Ontario, gift of the Estate of Marcella Brenner Louis, 2010.


Watch the livestream (link below) on Wednesday, February 3, 7pm – 8:30pm EST.

Follow @agotoronto and the hashtag #NewLookAGO on Twitter for our livetweet of key remarks.

Tweet your questions to @agotoronto (adding the hashtag #NewLookAGO) and we’ll share as many as we can with Kenneth.


Post your questions in the Livestream chat feed.


Jackson Pollock painting in his studio on Long Island, New York, 1950. Photo: © Hans Namuth

Curator’s Talk: After Abstract Expressionism: Making Sense of Painting in the 1960s

Everyone was at a loss after Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock (1912–56) famously flung and dripped paint onto the unstretched canvases he placed on the floor of his studio in 1948. To quote the American artist Allan Kaprow: “he destroyed painting.” If Pollock destroyed all the assumptions everyone had about painting in the late 1940s, he also created a generation of artists who were forced to contend with his innovation in the 1950s and 1960s. we will explore how artists made sense of painting in the wake of Jackson Pollock’s radical gesture.

AGOxInstagram: January 2016

February 1st, 2016

We’re lucky: Our visitors are some of the best photographers in the city, and we are constantly marveling at your views of the AGO. Inspired by you, and our friends at the Hammer Museum, we’re creating a monthly round-up of favourite AGOxInstagram shots (starting right now!). Want to take part? Keep sharing your Instagram and Twitter photos with us by tagging @agotoronto or #agotoronto.

AGOxInstagram January 2016

Photos by: @joel_c_gregorio, @torontosaur, @andru386, @minijennifah, @abbiera, @2013kit, @punkodelish, @louise_reimer, @chelsiegrant94

What it sounds like when 500+ voices of Choir! Choir! Choir! lift up David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” in Walker Court.

January 18th, 2016

On January 10, David Bowie passed away at the age of 69, just a few days after releasing a new album. We were shocked and saddened to lose an artist who inspired us all; and we were warmed by your Starman memories and David Bowie is exhibition tributes. So on January 16, we teamed up with drop-in choral group Choir! Choir! Choir! to honour Bowie’s legacy with a one-of-a-kind performance of his legendary cosmic opus, Space Oddity. More than 550 people took their protein pills, put on their helmets, and gathered in the Gallery’s Walker Court to belt out the classic song in three-part harmony. It was emotional, surreal, and uplifting, and we saw this in the expression of every singer.

What we didn’t know at the time: the world was also listening. Our live Periscope broadcast was made a featured video on the streaming site, shared hundreds of times, gathered 90,000 views and over 1,000,000 likes, and caught the attention of Twitter VP Kirstine Stewart and Twitter CEO and Co-founder Jack Dorsey (to name a few). We’re so glad we were able to share this not only with Bowie fans in Toronto, but with Bowie fans across the globe. And we think Major Tom heard us.

Join us for Twitter’s #MuseumWeek 2015, March 23-39

March 17th, 2015

One of the best things about social media is that it can — and does — happen everywhere: at home, at work and school, on the street and inside the walls of galleries and museums. We love sharing our collection, exhibitions and events with you on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and here on the blog, but what we like even more is seeing your posts about what you saw and did at the AGO.

From March 23-29, we’re inviting you to join us and more than 1,400 other cultural organizations on Twitter for #MuseumWeek. Each day will focus on a different theme: secrets, souvenirs, architecture, inspiration, family, favourites and — perhaps inevitably — selfies. Using each day’s corresponding hashtag, museum staff and visitors all over the world will fill Twitter with their ideas, memories, suggestions and questions. Join the conversation and tell your followers why museums matter, how they inspire you and what we can all do to keep them vital. Mention us @agotoronto so we can see your posts and share them with our followers too.

Have a look at the tweets below and see what museums and their visitors around the world are posting about #MuseumWeek.

Here’s looking at you: Share your Colville moment on Instagram and Twitter

December 4th, 2014

“It’s the ordinary things that seem important to me.”
— Alex Colville

Our exhibition Alex Colville includes more than 100 works by the iconic Canadian painter. After seeing this body of work and getting acquainted with the artist’s unmistakable style and his sometimes haunting views of his own world, it’s easy to start seeing Colville’s unique perspective all around us. The exhibition’s curator and the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, Andrew Hunter, has said that after spending considerable time with Colville’s art, he can’t help but encounter these moments, and he’s shared some of them on Instagram (see above slideshow). Visitors have also told and shown us that Colville’s work stays with them outside the Gallery walls.

To help celebrate the artist and his visual legacy, we want to see what Colville means to you. If you’re visiting the exhibition, take a photo with binoculars (supplied by us) in front of a Toward Prince Edward Island reproduction at the end of the exhibition, or show us a “Colville moment” from your world. Share the photo on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #ColvilleAGO, and we’ll post our favourites to our Facebook page. At the end of the exhibition in early January, we’ll conduct a random draw, the winner of which will receive a $100 AGO gift certificate redeemable at shopAGO or FRANK restaurant, or to spend on future admission or towards a membership.

We can’t wait to see your Colville moments! Questions? Leave them in the comments below.

#AGOfieldtrip: Pascal Paquette’s Instagram tour of new Toronto street art

September 16th, 2014

We handed over our Instagram account to Toronto artist Pascal Paquette last week, and from Sept. 10 to 13 he travelled around Toronto’s street and alleys capturing new street art and graffiti work, both commissioned and sanctioned, along with classic works from recent years. The 15 photos he shared with our followers are evidence of Toronto’s thriving street art community, which provides fertile ground for Toronto talent and attracts accomplished artists from around the world. Many thanks to Pascal for the tour and to all the artists who’ve brightened our city’s streets with these projects.

Pascal Paquette is primarily a fine art painter, and also uses street art, graffiti and photography in his site-specific projects. His art has been exhibited, commissioned and published internationally and locally, notably at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the AGO in 2012, when he and Sean Martindale presented their collaborative installation NOW. He lives in Toronto, Canada, and posts to Instagram at @pascalpaquette.

Instagram takeover: Pascal Paquette presents new Toronto street art

September 8th, 2014

Chou (aka Pascal Paquette) on Camden Street, Toronto.

Chou (aka Pascal Paquette) on Camden Street, Toronto.

Toronto artist Pascal Paquette is taking over our Instagram account from Sept. 10 to 13. He’ll be roaming Toronto streets to post pics of street art and graffiti, both commissioned and sanctioned works produced mainly this summer, along with classic works from recent years. Follow @agotoronto and #agofieldtrip to see the photos, then find the geo-mapped locations and experience the pieces in person.

Pascal Paquette is primarily a fine art painter, and also uses street art, graffiti and photography in his site-specific projects. His art has been exhibited, commissioned and published internationally and locally, notably at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA) and the AGO in 2012, when he and Sean Martindale presented their collaborative installation NOW. He lives in Toronto, Canada, and posts to Instagram at @pascalpaquette.