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Northern dining: Lawren Harris meets Terroir Symposium

April 18th, 2016


(Lawren Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, Oil on canvas, 130.8 x 160.7 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art, 1948 © Estate of Lawren Harris)

(Lawren Harris, Lake and Mountains, 1928, Oil on canvas, 130.8 x 160.7 cm, Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art, 1948 © Estate of Lawren Harris)

Our very own FRANK Restaurant is thrilled to announce a partnership with Terroir Symposium, one of the largest gatherings of the Canadian hospitality and culinary community, to create an inspirational dining experience featuring 16 internationally renowned chefs from across Canada and beyond. These culinary masterminds will work collaboratively with sustainable suppliers to prepare a six-course menu inspired by the upcoming exhibition, The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris. The chefs will create dishes using the bounty of our northern climate utilizing resources in the most delicious ways.

Monday, April 25, 7pm – 1am
FRANK Restaurant (The Art Gallery of Ontario)
Cost: $200
per person + tax and gratuity. $20 from each ticket sold will be donated to Canadian Food Centres Canada.

Get tickets here

Featured Chefs: Christine Flynn, IQ Food Co. Toronto; Pierre Lamielle, Food on Your Shirt, Calgary; Charlotte Langley, Scout Canning, Toronto; Renée Bellefeuille, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto; Brandon Baltzley, 41-70, Woods Hole, MA; Todd Perrin, Mallard Cottage, St. Johns, NL; Ned Bell, Yew Seafood Bar, Four Seasons, Vancouver; Jeremy Charles, Raymonds & The Merchant Tavern, St. Johns, NL; Ned Elliot, Foreign and Domestic, Austin; Jim Christiansen, Hey Day, Minneapolis; Scott Vivian, Beast Restaurant, Toronto; Basilio Pesce, The Cheese Boutique, Toronto; Diane Yang, Spoon & Stable, Minneapolis; Bertrand Alépée, The Tempered Room, Toronto and John Jackson & Connie DeSousa, Charcut & Carbar, Calgary.

Learn more at, and follow @TerroirTalk and @Terroir10 on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

On the occasion of its 10th anniversary, Terroir, Canada’s leading food service and hospitality symposium, brings together the elite of Canada’s restaurant industry, including influential chefs, food writers, wine and food experts, journalists and business leaders.


Acquiring a masterpiece: The AGO’s very first Hammershøi painting

April 16th, 2016

As we open our newest exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi, we have something huge to celebrate. In 2015, the AGO acquired the first painting by the Danish master to enter a Canadian museum. Interior with Four Etchings, a characteristic work created at the height of the artist’s career, was for many decades in a private Toronto collection and has been seen publicly only once before, during an exhibition in Japan.

Painted in the Hammershøi apartment at Strandgade 30 in old Copenhagen, the work features some of the artist’s favourite motifs: a closed, square piano with chair, cherished antique Royal Copenhagen porcelain, four heavily framed, indistinct etchings and, most important of all, his wife Ida, who would model for him more than seventy times.

So how did this masterpiece come to reside at the AGO? We chatted with our outgoing curator of European Art Lloyd DeWitt to ask about the history of this painting and the role the Department of Canadian Heritage played in helping to keep it in Canada.

Hands-On Centre on hiatus: April 26 to May 13

April 14th, 2016

AGO Hands-On Centre

Good news! Your friendly, neighbourhood Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre is undergoing a bit of a makeover to make room for new improvements, including a new sliding glass door to allow us to open up the space, new non-slip flooring, and new finishes and play materials — all to make learning even more exciting for our littlest visitors. While we complete our renovations, the Centre will be closed from April 26 to May 13. But don’t worry: we’ll have an assortment of facilitated Hands-On activities and play materials on offer throughout the gallery for children and families. Check in at the ticket kiosks or Membership desk to find out what family-friendly activities we’re offering on any given day.

#OutsidersAGO Twitter Q&A with curators Sophie Hackett and Jim Shedden

April 6th, 2016

The Garry Winogrand display in Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s

The Garry Winogrand display in Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s

We want to hear from you! Join us on Thursday, April 7, 11am for a livestream tour and livetweet about Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s.

Co-curators Sophie Hackett and Jim Shedden will lead a quick livestream tour of the exhibition at 11am, and we want you to tweet your questions during and after the tour!


Watch the livestream tour (on Twitter) on Thursday, April 7, 11am.

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

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

Unknown American, Large Group in the Living Room, 1963. Chromogenic print, 8.8 x 19 cm. Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/915. © Art Gallery of Ontario.

Unknown American, Large Group in the Living Room, 1963. Chromogenic print, 8.8 x 19 cm. Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/915. © Art Gallery of Ontario.


Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s

The first exhibition of photography and film of this scope and size in the AGO’s history, Outsiders celebrates the iconoclastic mid-20th century American artists—like Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Nan Goldin, Danny Lyon, Kenneth Anger and Gordon Parks—who captured a changing America and life on the fringes.

AGOxInstagram: March 2016

April 5th, 2016

It’s time for another edition of AGOxInstagram! 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, we’ve created a monthly round-up of favourite AGOxInstagram shots (See January 2016’s selection here). Want to take part? Keep sharing your Instagram and Twitter photos with us by tagging @agotoronto or #agotoronto.

AGOxInstagram March 2016
Photos (by row, left to right): @zachbalbino, @cecilymy, @kandisebrown, @alyssayuhas, @bofajardo, @danielakonishi, @epiiffany, @mandclu, @_ktrinac

Mark Lewis: Canada

March 29th, 2016


Study for « Canada » films, photo: Mark Lewis, courtesy of the artist

News! The AGO is pleased to announce its first collaboration with the recently re-launched Museum of Contemporary Art_Toronto_Canada (formerly the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art). From May to August, 2017, the AGO will host Mark Lewis: Canada, as part of Demo-Graphics, MOCA’s new, international art biennial.

Co-curated by MOCA’s CEO and Director Chantal Pontbriand and the AGO’s Chief Curator Stephanie Smith, Canada is an anthology of connected films by Mark Lewis. The installation of these films explore the name “Canada” and how that name has come to be associated, both within our country and throughout the world, with fantasies, stories and imaginary histories.

Mark Lewis, born in Canada and based in London, is among the most prominent artists of his generation working in photography and moving images. Throughout his career, he has gained wide-ranging success and internationally acclaim for his short, silent films. In 2009, Lewis represented Canada at the Venice Biennale, and in 2014, he was asked by the Louvre to produce new films that would consider, in some way, the museum’s history, physicality and historical collection. His mining of the museum’s art collection, its architectural passageways and its audience, formed the basis for a new series of films that were presented in the context of a solo exhibition at the museum that same year. In the same year, also in Paris, Le Bal offered him a much acclaimed solo exhibition. Lewis continuously shows internationally, recently exhibiting in Sao Paulo, Porto, Seoul, and London. Canada will be his largest project to date, with a series of installation films culminating into a feature-length film similar to the acclaimed Inventio shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and at the Berlinale in the last year. This year, he is winner of a Governor General Award in Visual Arts and Media.

Mark Lewis: Canada is one element of a full program of AGO exhibitions and events that will celebrate Canada 150 in 2017. More details will be available at a later date – stay tuned!

For more information, please visit


Focus on: Magdalyn Asimakis in the Print & Drawing Study Centre

March 29th, 2016

Magdalyn Asimakis

Photo: Luis Mora

There’s a bright, public space in the gallery where you can get lost in works straight from the vault: the Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre, on level 1. This world-class print room and vault offers a unique space for accessing the our collection of works on paper and photography. We took a behind-the-scenes look with Magdalyn Asimakis, the monitor of the P&D Centre, and the curatorial assistant for 2015’s Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s The Time.



Tell us about the Centre, by the numbers (which are pretty incredible).


In a nutshell: we have 20,000 works on paper that span from the 1400s to the present day, and over 50,000 photographs. Our department’s current exhibition, Drawing, Je t’aime, features nearly 100 of our finest drawings—and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

And these are works that aren’t currently on display, so what exactly are they stored in? 

The works are stored unframed and matted in solander boxes (which sort of fold open like a clam shell) and map drawers. This is standard practice, and the benefit is it allows us to bring works out of the vault easily for viewing and study.

How can the public come see the works?

Since we opened in ’93, we now have a very active public program that is animated through staff and a dedicated group of volunteers. On Wednesdays, you can drop in the Study Centre between 1pm and 8pm for our Open Door program to see the space and a selection of works on display. And until 4pm that day, we take requests! You can actually ask to have specific works brought out from the vault. We also have free talks on the second Friday of each month at 11am, and a quarterly ticketed talk on Friday evenings called Close Encounters. And each month for First Thursday, we curate a pop-up exhibition in the Study Centre called Out of the Vaults which is very successful. Not to mention we are always hosting classes and taking private appointments.

What surprised you when you started working here?


A solander box containing Albrecht Dürer’s The Virgin with the Swaddled Child, 1520, Print, 14.5 x 9.9 cm (5 11/16 x 3 7/8 in.), Gift of Sir Edmund Walker Estate, 1926.

I was really pleased to learn that the Study Centre’s collection was so central to the everyday work we do. It’s really a hands-on environment. Most days involve going into the vault to see an object or to go through a solander box. The reasons we look at works in the Study Centre vary, whether we are bringing them out for visitors to study during Open Door on Wednesdays; for drawing classes, lectures and exhibition planning; or for examination with colleagues (scholars, curators, and conservators). The collection is really alive and nurtured daily. Opening a solander box or looking at a work up close without protective glass never gets old.

What does a normal day look like for a P&D staffer?


Most of our work takes place behind the scenes. We work closely with colleagues from other departments including collections care specialists, registrars, conservators, library staff as well as curators from other areas. At the moment, we also have a mobile photography unit stationed in our vault to expedite the digitization process of the collection. There is a lot of interest in our works on paper collection, so on any given day you can find artists, curators, scholars and, on occasion, celebrities in here looking at works.

Is there a “Prints and Drawings” moment that stands out for you?

The most interesting moments are when the space is being shared because it creates unexpected connections. One day we had a class of Fine Arts undergraduate students in the Study Centre viewing some relief prints and at the next table was artist Stephen Andrews looking at his own works with Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, in preparation for his exhibition at the AGO. As the students were finishing their class, Stephen invited them over and he talked to them them a bit about his work, much to their amazement. The study centre offers a space for curators, artists, and students to have exchanges like these.

Visitor favourites: A light-filled installation on Floor 5

March 24th, 2016

A closer look at one of the gallery’s visitor favourites, an immersive light-filled installation on Floor 5 by Paul Chan.

By Jon Davies, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art

In 2007, American artist and activist Paul Chan premiered his ambitious series of floor projections entitled The 7 Lights at the Serpentine Gallery in London. While Chan works fluidly between many different forms and platforms, this series’ title refers to its distinctive medium: video projections of coloured light and black silhouettes, or, as the artist puts it, “light and light that has been struck out.”

The series consists of haunting shadow-plays that draw their power from a sight that marked many people during the September 11, 2011 attacks on the World Trade Center: people falling from buildings. Evoking a state of seemingly perpetual crisis, bodies here fall but also float upwards, levitating alongside consumer products and junk. With its pared down visuals and powerful use of silence, The 7 Lights series vividly imagines a Rapture that is firmly rooted in everyday life, rather than something transcendent.

2nd Light (seen above) is grounded by a tree, which endures a day’s unfolding from sunrise to sunset before looping and starting over again. We are delighted to have recently acquired this key work from Chan’s series, which is installed here for the first time with other recent contemporary acquisitions in Many things brought from one climate to another, currently on display on level 5.

Twitter’s #MuseumWeek (March 28–April 3) lands at the AGO

March 21st, 2016

7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags

From March 28–April 3, we’re inviting you to join us and more than 2,000 other cultural organizations on Twitter for #MuseumWeek, a global social media campaign that encourages discussion on why museums matter, how they inspire us and what we can all do to keep them vital.

Each day of #MuseumWeek 2016 focuses on a different theme: secrets, people, architecture, heritage, the future, zoom, and love. Using each day’s corresponding hashtag, museum staff members and visitors all from over the world will fill Twitter with their ideas, memories, photos and questions.

Follow us @agotoronto on  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our #MuseumWeek trivia and in-gallery challenges.

PLUS: Each day, our Gallery Guides’ Highlights and On The Dot tours will feature special #MuseumWeek themes and destinations.

1-Hour Highlights Tours (every one is different!): 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm every day. 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.


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

By the numbers: 2016’s Art+Feminism Wiki Edit-A-Thon

March 19th, 2016

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the Art Gallery of Ontario, March 5, 2016

Art+Feminism’s Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon is a campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia, and to encourage female editorship.

To kick off International Women’s Month, we hosted a free Edit-A-Thon on March 5 at the AGO — one of over 100 satellite venues (worldwide!) of the Art+Feminism event, which is headquartered at MoMA in New York. Numbers are still being compiled, but it looks like we were one of the largest events worldwide.

40+ attendees

17 improved existing articles

7 finished articles

4 new drafts

2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Quite apart from the numbers, what was great about the event was the energy of collaborating on this project. You’d think that editing Wikipedia would be a pretty dry activity, but as a combined effort it can be surprisingly social and empowering.

—Amy Furness, Edit-A-Thon organizer and the AGO’s Rosamond Ivey Special Collections Archivist, Library & Archives

Lots of collaborators shared their experience during the day using the hashtags #AGOedits #AGOToronto #ArtAndFeminism:

A huge thank-you to all of our enthusiastic editors! And stay tuned: our next Wikipedia Wednesday is set for May 4, 2016.

Click here to read more about our Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon initiative.