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#AGOinspo: Machine Age Massive

May 8th, 2017

Photo courtesy of the AGO.

The AGO was transformed for the 13th annual Massive Party on April 27, and this time it entered the Machine Age. Robots were front and centre with the massive T1 Bot that welcomed revellers with high-fives as they entered the Gallery. Guests were then treated to futuristic installations from our featured artists, including mesmerizing video installations in Walker Court from Trudy Elmore, a people-powered light-up disco floor from Jon Sasaki in the Weston Family Learning Centre, not to mention the incredible mix of ballet and sculptural works created by Harley Valentine in Baillie Court. Delicious themed cocktails and canapés were passed around as guests admired the art and each other’s creative ensembles. Guests were dressed in LED and glow-in-the-dark accessories, as well as machine-themed metallic and structural shapes – in terms of fashion, we think we saw the future!

Check out the highlights below: Read the rest of this entry »

#RetroAGO: Picasso-mania

May 8th, 2017

The recent reopening of the Level 1 suite of Margaret Eaton, Marvin Gelber, and Betty Ann & Fraser Elliott Galleries has caused quite a stir with its amazing installation of Modern works from the AGO Collection. Visitors, AGO staffers and volunteers are buzzing about the exciting works on display (especially the Picassos!) in the first gallery spaces to be unveiled as part of our Look:Forward reinstallation project.

Now take a look back to 1964, when the Art Gallery of Toronto (as the AGO was then called) thrilled Toronto audiences with the first-ever Canadian retrospective of Pablo Picasso’s work. The month-long visual extravaganza showcased 270 artworks on loan from all over the world. By 1960s standards, the numbers are astounding: 107,214 visitors came through our doors and 23,736 copies of the catalogue were sold. Read the rest of this entry »

Fun for all ages

May 8th, 2017

The Cardboard City that took over the WFLC during March Break. Photo courtesy of the AGO.

The Weston Family Learning Centre (WFLC), located on the AGO’s Concourse Level, is best known as the space where teens can breakdance after school, kids can enjoy hands-on art-making, families can play and create together every weekend, and where adults can hone their craft or learn a new skill in the AGO’s line-up of art courses and workshops. But the WFLC is also home to amazing special projects and events. Check out this highlight reel to see what we’ve been up to this winter. You never know – you might spot yourself! Read the rest of this entry »

Calling all film lovers

May 8th, 2017

Still courtesy of Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People.

Presenting art up-close and in-person is the name of the game for an art museum, but often there’s so much more to learn about an artist or art movement than what an exhibition can reveal. That’s where AGO Art + Cinema comes into play.

This spring, an exciting season of films is coming to the AGO. For example, on May 10 and 11, we’re presenting Through a Lens Darkly: Black Photographers and the Emergence of a People, directed by Thomas Allen Harris, which explores how photography was embraced by Black families and communities as far back as the Civil War era (think of Frederick Douglass) to combat dominant stereotypes and establish a deliberate expression of true identity. This film is presented in conjunction with the AGO’s photography exhibition, Free Black North, which features photographs of unknown Black Ontarians from the 1800s, highlighting an area of history that often goes overlooked or simplified in mainstream stories. Read the rest of this entry »

A treasure trove in a steamer trunk

May 2nd, 2017

Unknown. [Unidentified women, Niagara Falls backdrop], 1880-1900. Tintype, 6.4 × 5.1 cm. Richard Bell Family Fonds, Brock University Archives. Courtesy Brock University Archives, Image © 2017 Art Gallery of Ontario.

Think about your own closets, basements or attics – and how they tend to become storage space for possessions that are no longer useful or relevant to our daily lives.

Now imagine the surprise, joy and wonder that Rick Bell felt when he ventured into his mother’s attic and found an old steamer trunk that just so happened to hold a “treasure trove” of photographs on old tintypes, cabinet cards and cartes-des-visites (a popular, small and relatively cheap form of photograph printed on thick paper cards) from the 1800s. Though they’re far from the kind of photos we’re used to capturing today, their relevance could not be more crucial to Canada at this moment in history, as we contemplate who we are, where we’ve come from and where we’re going. Read the rest of this entry »

Out with the old, in with the new!

May 2nd, 2017

Joanna Johnston, 4 Story walk up. Pigement print on aluminum dibond, 48″ x 72“. Ed. of 3, 1 available. Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and the artist.

Congratulations! You dug deep and found a burst of energy to power through your spring cleaning. But what do you do about those big blank walls now that you’ve finally ditched your collection of New Wave posters?

We’ve got the answer: it’s time to check in with the AGO’s Art Rental & Sales team. Perhaps you’ve considered purchasing artwork in the past, but don’t know where to start. Or maybe you’re scared to invest in a piece that you won’t adore in six months. Renting an artwork from our team is the perfect solution. With our curated selection of contemporary Canadian works, there is something to suit every taste and price range – with some of the best access to established and emerging artists in the country. Check out some of the newest selections in our Art Rental & Sales collection.

This series of paintings, a continuation of Sarah Letovsky’s first solo exhibition GIRLS, GIRLS, GIRLS, explores ideas of subjectivity, tension, and hidden thought and feeling. Letovsky (b. 1987, Toronto, ON) finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting at OCAD University in 2014. She was the recipient of the 2014 Mrs. W.O. Forsyth Award for Excellence in Painting. In addition to AGO Art Rental & Sales Gallery, Letovsky’s work has been exhibited at Art Toronto, Project Gallery, Only One Gallery, Hashtag Gallery, and featured in FASHION Magazine.

Sarah Letovsky, Virgo. Oil on canvas, 60″ x 48“. Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and Art Works Consulting

Sarah Letovsky, Panama Breeze. Oil on canvas, 36″ x 30“. Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and Art Works Consulting.

These next works are by Joanna Johnston. Johnston (b. Calgary, AB) is a fine art photographer with a background in architecture. After graduating with a degree in architecture, she moved to Toronto. Her home for 10 years, she then made a move to Arles, France.

Her Suspended Garden series was taken at High Line Park in New York, using multiple exposures in-camera. By layering the organic life of the park over the hard cityscape, it pushes the viewer to see how architectural space is not two-dimensional; it is also what we hear, smell, feel and experience.

Johnston’s South x South West series has never before been exhibited. AGO Art Rental & Sales has been given exclusive access to this series, one the artists holds very dear. Truly a love letter to her native land and to a father who brought out her inner explorer, South x South West beautifully showcases the Albertan landscape in a gestural and almost painterly fashion.

According to Johnston, she was inspired by “The gentle shape of the land; the volume of the sky; the vast swathes of crop; the sheer bigness of it. It is the Prairie. What started out as a desire to map out connections between my ancestors and my childhood memories of southwestern Alberta turned into a realization that perhaps I would only be able see the prairie for the first time, every time.”


Joanna Johnston, Jersey Shore. Pigment print on aluminum dibond, Ed. of 3, 1 available, Can be printed to size, Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and the artist

Joanna Johnston, …is where the heart beats. Pigment print on aluminum dibond. Ed. of 3, 1 available. Can be printed to size. Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and the artist.

Joanna Johnston, Side road. Pigment print on aluminum dibond, Ed. of 3, 3 available, 40” x 80”, Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and the artist,

Joanna Johnston, Sea. Pigment print on aluminum dibond. Ed. of 3, 2 available, 40” x 80”. Courtesy of AGO Art Rental and Sales and the artist

To book an appointment, email: AGO members receive a discount at Art Rental & Sales. Click here for more information.

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Making CONTACT with photography

May 2nd, 2017

Edward Burtynsky: Sawmills #1, Lagos, Nigeria, 2016

In case you haven’t heard, the largest photography event in the world returns this month! The annual Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival kicked off last week, and the AGO is proud to be a partner once again. Together we’re presenting a landmark series of talks featuring leading artists and thinkers reflecting on the history and future of photography and its impact on our culture.

Read the rest of this entry »

What is Maylee Todd’s Virtual Womb?

May 2nd, 2017

Photo courtesy of the artist

It’s the first week of a new month, and that means the AGO will once again be taken over by art, food and conversation during First Thursday on May 4. Inspired by Georgia O’Keeffe and her resistance to being labeled “a woman artist” in a landscape of male peers, the theme for this week’s First Thursday is Gender Trouble.

The lineup of artists includes Toronto artist Catherine MacTavish (whose work you can see on display in Toronto: Tributes + Tributaries, 1971–1989), emerging artist Madelyne Beckles, and Lena Dunham-approved author Julie Cameron Gray.

Headlining the night is Toronto-based musician and performance artist Maylee Todd, who is inviting First Thursday-goers into her experiential performance, Virtual Womb. We spoke with Maylee about this captivating, participatory musical experience.

Read the rest of this entry »

The AGO’s very first photograph

April 25th, 2017

British Photographer, Charlotte Brontë at age 34, from an 1850 rendering by George Richmond (British, 1809–1896), around 1855. Ambrotype: sixth plate; leather case, embossed velvet pad. Overall (glass): 6.4 x 5 cm (2 1/2 x 1 15/16 in.) Frame: 7.2 x 5.9 cm (2 13/16 x 2 5/16 in.). Gift of Ronald Hewat, Kaslo, BC, 1925. © Art Gallery of Ontario.

Did you know that the AGO’s Photography Collection features more than 60,000 works? Discover early photographs of famous paintings and people as we share some gems from the AGO Photography Collection 1840s–1880s, launching a new gallery dedicated to photography as part of the AGO’s Look:Forward reinstallation project.

Caroline Walker, C.W. Bell Album, 1875. 31 Albumen prints, watercolour, black ink in leather-bound, gold-embossed album, 33 × 28 × 3.3 cm. Purchase, donated funds in memory of Eric Steiner, 2003. 2003/1.1 .39 © 2017 Art Gallery of Ontario.

Sparked by an ambrotype portrait of Charlotte Brontë from the late 1850s, this fascinating installation showcases works from photography’s earliest decades and the diverse uses the medium was put to from the beginning, curated by the AGO’s Sophie Hackett. Read the rest of this entry »