Ever dream of visiting the gallery without the crowds? This morning, we’ve invited 20 Torontonians — art fans, Instagram photographers, social media influencers — for an early-bird, behind-the-scenes tour, all before we opened to the public. This surreal experience is our pilot event, the first of its kind at the AGO. Follow the #emptyAGO experience below, and stay tuned for updates about future tours.
April slipped right by us, but we’ve finally caught up with our incredible visitor submissions and compiled 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. Want to take part? Keep sharing your Instagram and Twitter photos with us by tagging @agotoronto or #agotoronto.
Photos (by row, left to right): @jesssymw, @tulipslalaland, @siungtjia, @therealskipmccoy, @tassellate, @lyndsaygutsch, @sysneye, @brain.vision, @artmoi
Before the crowds
Ever dream of visiting the gallery without the crowds? Our first #emptyAGO tour is your chance to experience the AGO before we open to the public.
On Thursday, May 26, 9am–10:30am, we’re asking 20 Torontonians — art fans, Instagram photographers, social media influencers — to roam the empty gallery, snap photos, and hear behind-the-scenes stories from the AGO’s Social Media Officer. This surreal experience is our pilot event, the first of its kind at the AGO.
Access to an entirely empty AGO
Breakfast mingle in the Grange House
Same-day admission to the AGO (which opens at 10:30am)
To join, fill out the form below by Friday, May 20, 11:59pm. Questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or send us a message on Twitter/Instagram @agotoronto. Can’t make it? Follow the action on Instagram/Twitter by checking out #emptyAGO.
We’re renovating to serve you better! While the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands On Centre is closed for improvements til mid-May, we’re offering facilitated Hands-On Centre activities and materials throughout the Gallery spaces. Check out what’s happening today!
Hands-On Centre On Wheels
Hands-On Fun on the Move! Check in with our Family Program Facilitators in the galleries today. Each day, we will be here to offer fun activities such as building challenges, games, story time, and pretend play using the art in our collections and exhibitions as inspiration!
Here’s where we’ll be: Tuesdays: 10:30 am – 2 pm
Bennett Gallery (Level 2; Gallery 229 on your map)
Wednesdays: 10:30 am – 2 pm
Thomson Collection of Canadian Art
(Level 2; Galleries 209/210 on your map)
Thursdays: 10:30 am – 2 pm
Reuben Wells Leonard Memorial Gallery
(Level 1; Gallery 117 on your map)
Fridays: 10:30 am – 2 pm
David Milne Centre (Level 1; Gallery 145 on your map)
Saturdays: 10:30 am – 4 pm
Weston Family Learning Centre – Young Education
Commons (Concourse Level)
Sundays: 10:30 am – 4 pm
Weston Family Learning Centre – Young Education
Commons (Concourse Level)
AGO Kids’ Gallery
(Level 1: Gallery 140 on your map).
Visit The Kids’ Gallery at the AGO, a space created especially for children and you. Together you can experience art first-hand, learn and have fun. Enjoy our current exhibition, Pets & Me, with a fun interactive game, touchable activities, and kids talking about art! Kids can draw a picture of their favourite pet, and hang it up on The Kids’ Gallery wall, read a book, or put on a costume and Instagram their silly look!
Today marks Frank Stella’s 80th birthday, and we couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate than with our very own tribute! Stella Ella Ola is the AGO Youth Council‘s playful response to the Frank Stella painting York Factory (Sketch) VI, in our collection and on display in Room 126. (Due to copyright restrictions, we’re unable to share the original piece in this post or link to it.)
Inspired by Stella’s colour blocking, kids’ TV shows and 1970s modern dance, the Youth Council members gave York Factory (Sketch) VI a youthful makeover in which their bodies replace the artist’s sweeping blocks of colour. Placing themselves within this work creates a dialogue between the original Stella and their photograph, making the original work relevant for a new generation of visitors to the gallery. As Stella would say about this work: “What you see is what you see.”
Sunbeams falling in through paned windows, women in quiet rooms, and empty streets with façades executed in melancholy greys. The great Danish painter Vilhelm Hammershøi is often described as “the painter of quiet rooms”—a name that aptly describes his unique, poetic style. Can you capture a sense of Hammershøian serenity on your smartphone?
(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior in Strandgade, Sunlight on the Floor, 1901, Oil on canvas, 46.5 x 52 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)
(Vilhelm Hammershøi, Near Fortunen, Jagersborg Deer Park, North of Copenhagen, 1901, Oil on canvas, 55 x 66.5 cm, National Gallery of Denmark)
Currently on view and free with general admission, the exhibition Painting Tranquility: Masterworks by Vilhelm Hammershøi features twenty-four masterpieces from the SMK – The National Gallery of Denmark. And together with the SMK, we’re launching a photo competition that invites you — and your smartphone — to take pictures of grey-hued, atmospheric interiors in true Hammershøi fashion.
How can I take part?
Take photos inspired by Hammershøi’s aesthetic and share them on Instagram using the hashtag #HammershoiAGO. Or, visit the exhibition in person and take a seat at our very own Hammershøi “selfie spot”: set recreation of Strandgade 25, where the artist lived with his wife Ida for four very productive years between 1912 and 1916.
Many photographers have already been inspired by Hammershøi in various ways, and this competition isn’t about copying a specific work, but rather about capturing the distinctive look and feel of his art. Many of Hammershøi’s own works are reminiscent of photography and have obvious parallels to Instagram filters and aesthetics.
Characteristic elements of Hammershøi’s work that you might find inspirational:
• Light falling in through windows
• A play of light and shadow
• Restricted colour palette and saturation
• Female figure with her back turned to the viewer
• Solitary female figure
• Figures absorbed in quiet pursuits
• Rooms arranged in a sequential layout
• Empty rooms
The writer Poul Vad studied Hammershøi in great detail, and he describes the relationship between the Danish painter and photography as follows:
Photography is one of the phenomena that defines modernity. The ‘photographic’ aspect of Hammershøi’s paintings is undoubtedly part of the reason why this painter’s art falls within the heading of ‘modernity’ in spite of his traditional approach to his craft. They still seem modern to us today.
You can take your photographs anywhere at all, including at our Hammershøi selfie wall. And remember: a friend’s livingroom can be every bit as Hammershøian as a deserted street in downtown Toronto. So grab your smartphone and start capturing scenes full of greys, light, and tranquillity.
Mother’s Day is coming up soon (May 8 — just putting that out there) and we’ve got some thoughtful suggestions on how to spoil her this weekend:
(Helen Galloway McNicoll, White Sunshade #2, oil on canvas, 99.5 x 81.9 cm. Gift of the Estate of Budd Sugarman, 2006, Art Gallery of Ontario)
Take the Mother’s Day Tour
May 8, 2016, 11am–5:30pm
Artful discussion and themed tours of the AGO’s collection — what’s not to like? In the company of a knowledgeable and engaging AGO Gallery Guide, you’ll visit masterworks by empowering female artists, and works that explore themes of family and motherly love. Highlights include works by Kathleen Munn, Christi Belcourt, Bonnie Devine, Paraskeva Clark, Daphne Odjig, Helen Galloway McNicoll, and more.
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 “Time Dissolve” by Carl Beam, Room 227
11:30am “Mother and Child” by Kenojuak Ashevak, Room 140
1:30pm “Mother and Child” by Frances Loring, Room 227
2:30pm “The Wisdom of the Universe” by Christi Belcourt, Room 225
Give her the gift of 5,000+ years of art. Free admission, Member Preview Days, Gallery-wide discounts, complimentary coat check, access to the Grange Members’ Lounge (including Afternoon Tea), and too many perks to name!
If nothing but the finest recreation of a Downton Abbey high tea will satisfy, then treat her to la crème de la crème at the Norma Ridley Members’ Lounge, Grange House and Atrium (Level 1). Saturday & Sunday, May 7 & 8 (Seatings at Noon, 12:30, 2:30 and 3pm), by reservation only; A Members’ exclusive. ($50 per person plus tax and 15% gratuity)
Unique, affordable and stylish gifts she’s sure to adore, from the crafty (colour-your-way-to-calm books!) to designer decor to beautiful jewellery. Plus: Members’ enjoy a 10% discount.
Family Tree & Drop-in Play in the Weston Family Learning Centre
Little ones can also celebrate Mother’s Day during our artmaking and play activities. Create your own family drawing or message to add to our collective AGO Family Tree. Included with general admission (Members visit free!).Where: Weston Family Learning Centre, Concourse Level, 10:30am–4pm.
Enjoy a delicious brunch buffet at FRANK, where art, food and talk meet. Choose from continental, carving and seafood stations including an oyster bar, as well as salads, an assortment of sweets, and a selection of housemade pastries. Plus: We also have a special menu for your little ones.
This June, we’re kicking off Pride Month with a special First Thursday art party guest curated by legendary Toronto-based artist, filmmaker, writer and photographer Bruce LaBruce! Pride Month, which runs from June 1 to July 3, is Toronto’s first-ever month-long celebration that unites and empowers people with diverse sexual orientations, gender identities and gender expression.
Presented in partnership with Pride Toronto & Inside Out LGBT Film Festival, this special edition of AGO First Thursday will highlight competing visions of queerness with a dynamic mix of provocative, topical programming and electrifying performances. Bruce has invited four of his favourite queer artists to perform, each of whom are resolutely forging their own unique aesthetic and politic, but are aligned in terms of avant-garde practice and spirit, as well as gender radicalism.
Programming highlights includes performances by internationally celebrated queer artists Ron Athey and Narcissister, as well as musical performances by No Bra and a special DJ set by New York’s Gio Black Peter. June First Thursday
June 2, 2016, 7pm to 11:30pm
Tickets: $13 in advance and $16 at the door.
(AGO Members: $11 in advance and $14 at the door.)
Last night, April 21, close to 1,900 guests helped us raise $313,000 at “Midnight Massive Party,” a magic-and-masquerade-themed fundraiser. Now in its 12th year, Massive Party featured works from Toronto’s top artists and musicians, with Artistic Directors the Broadbent Sisters providing the magic.
Guests explored three unique spaces themed after natural elements and transformation: Concourse Level_Fire: Where guests found the dance party, set to the sounds of DJ Sophie Jones, and a live performance by RALPH and a swinging midnight-samba band. Installations included “The Infinite Selfie” by Robin Clason, a MAC Cosmetics #FutureMac station, “Poorly Potted Plants” by Tau Lewis, Soderberg Mills’ anaglyphic mirror, and The New Beat + Menalon Music’s “Lazer Harp.” Level 1_Earth: A moonlit masquerade with mythical installations by the Broadbent Sisters and music by J.u.D. Level 3_Air: An ethereal, dreamlike space where guests took in “Pseudo Specter” by Michael Vicks and Randall Okita, “The Clearing” by the Broadbent Sisters, and Okita’s “Be Here Now,” with DJ Humble Mike setting a relaxed vibe all night.
On his first day as the Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO, Stephan Jost answered our speedy Q&A to catch us up on some essentials — including: “iPhone or Android?” and “Is this the strangest interview you’ve ever done?” (Answer: “No! I once was interviewed on live television by a blind priest who fell asleep during the interview.”) Shot with Periscope!