The artworks featured above are all part of our permanent collection at the AGO. We’ve hunted out some of the pictures that send shivers down our spine – but can you name the title and the artist? If you think you know, head over to our Flickr page to share your ideas, or leave a comment on the blog below!
We’re in for a treat at the AGO tonight. David Jaffé, Senior Curator in the Department of Painting, National Gallery, London will talk about the work of 17th Century Flemish master Peter Paul Rubens. In particular he will discuss the Massacre of the Innocents by Rubens from the Thomson Collection at the AGO. The talk, and the liveblog, begin at 7pm – see you then! – Holly, Internet & Social Media Content Coordinator
19:03 DJ ‘I apologise for those who can’t understand Australian… there will be lots of images so you won’t get bored.”
“The Massacre of the Innovents was painted by Rubens just after he returned from a 10 year sabbatical to Italy… holiday in the sun… his brother was working in Rome and he could speak Latin so he quickly adapted to Italian. It became his language for letter writing.”
19.05 ‘The Flems are considered hard workers… art was a production, a business. This Petroda sculpture (on screen) is a link to Massacre of the Innocents. Look carefully at the way the figures are animated.” (Available to view in the Gallery – HK)
“Rubens realised sculpture was the key to making a new kind of drawing for his age.”
19.07 “Rubens started by looking back at Raphael. We have few paintings from between when he qualified as a painter and when he went to Italy in the 1600s. His mum writes ‘there are many beautiful paintings in my house by my son’… but we don’t know if they really were beautiful or not.”
On screen – Rubens’ sketchbook of human forms
19.08 “The drawing on the right is of Hercules with a little Greek inscription. It’s recording a story about Hercules and monkeys – a learning association drawing a famous statue. On the left is a pen sketch of Paul preaching from the Raphael design – he thought that gesture was powerful enough to record. The inscription? The cube is the source of all stability.”
19.10 On screen – Images of Hercules, larger than life and strong from the 1590s.
“The only current people who are good to look at are rowers, porters and dancers.” – Rubens’ view of the human form.
19.11 “How does Rubens use the pocketbook and how can we interpret this? My job is to find out what he’s actually copying. He picks up a painting made in 1548 and puts a figure from it with lots of other guys… he arranges figures like a topographer.”
“Rubens almost took an academic attitude to art to begin with.”
19.14 “He often picked quite obscure people from prints to copy into his pocketbook.”
19.15 “We tend to think of Baroque as gruesome.. but it was always a streak in Italy, the same streak you see in Hollywood.”
19.16 “He copied Holbein. In this picture is death, grabbing the coattails of a monk – and Rubens copies this (shown on screen). He changes the skeleton/monk scene into a girl/boy event. The sketchbook isn’t always literal – they get an inspiration and then think how can I exploit it?”
19.19 “He kept it (his pocketbook) with him for the whole of his career but it didn’t infiltrate his art as much as I was hoping. But sometimes I got lucky.”
On screen – More examples of sketches from Rubens’ pocketbook that have made it into his paintings.
19.22 “Rubens is famous for doing girls who forget to get dressed. They’re buff.. they’re not sloppy girls. The sense of the back and the energy of the back… you can seriously think of Matisse but he was probably thinking about Julio Romano”
19.25 “This sketch of Atlas trying to bend the back at different angles becomes the helper trying to raise the cross.”
19.26 “The copy is sometimes quite literal – this (on screen) is from a famous Rosso print.”
19.30 “Rubens thinks girls are a good idea.”
19.30 “Rubens responds to prints in an aggressive way… and he responds to prints that I’ve never heard of. Rubensian figures look a bit out of date when you realise Rosso has already got there.”
19.32 “Rubens in 1598 was prepared to go to his pattern book, his source book, and clamp together a painting from a variety of sources.”
19.33 “Anything will go as long as it’s the right kind of thematic source… but he realised that this isn’t the way to go. The switch is very interesting.”
19.35 Talking about Raphael and bodies in action – Looking at a Raphael print of The Massacre. “It’s made to make you feel on edge but not quite go over the decorum lines.”
On screen – Different versions of the massacre of the innocents tale.
19.37 “Rubens was aware of his history. It becomes a genre… you no longer see it as a vital thing but an exercise in extreme foreshortening.”
19.39. “Rubens could have entered the contest. He knew engravers and could have made a print but decided to take it back to a different level by doing a painting. It’s almost a conscious effort to sweep away the saturation of printed images. That’s why it feels so fresh, so strong, so powerful. Love it or hate it, it’s a masterpiece of communication. You can’t get this kind of immediacy from a print – you have to go to a painting, to a large painting.”
19.41 “Rubens was looking at different kinds of sources. For The Conversion of Paul he used this Kopp tapestry design – notice the detail from the hand on the horses rump. Rubens has self-consciously picked up this image and explored it, rotated it, to get the pose he wants.”
19.46 DJ is talking about The Massacre as a painting that was designed to be displayed well above our heads above a fireplace, a chimney piece. This placing affects where the painters places details and highlight in the work.
19.49 “You have to think of Rubens as an artist responding to sculpture. You can’t ignore that sculpture has power and that you interact with it – think of the Henry Moore Gallery.”
19.51 “I want to think about the first known owner of The Massacre of the Innocents. Carenna lived in a big house with a huge fireplace. If you go into his house there’s a blank wall above the fireplace, over 6ft tall. We never hang paintings that high up now – that’s where The Massacre sat, surrounded by tapestries 4 or 5 metres long. Rubens must have been aware that was how it was going to look – it had to have the power to explode out.”
19.57 On screen – Carenna’s tomb. Very elaborate marble.
19.59 ‘It’s interesting to think of the kind of power and awe that the painting must have generated. There’s a lot of history in it.”
20.00 “Rubens thought peace was very important… it has some of that in it. Although you can’t read it too much as a political painting.”
20.03 “The Tetroda with the ligaments running around the limbs… if you get it from exactly the right angle you can see how Rubens got the pose of the figure in The Massacre. He’s rejected hard laboured print sources and gone to this anatomical way of making figures come alive. It’s almost a homage to Tetroda in this painting. He takes inspiration from an unexpected source and takes it further.”
20.07 “Go up and see the painting and see it maybe slightly differently.”
Thank you for tuning in to our liveblog! You can come in and see The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens any time – part of the Thomson Collection at the AGO.
It’s that time of year again. The nights are drawing in, the weather’s turning chilly and once again Toronto is once again playing host to Canada’s only modern and contemporary international art fair.
Art Toronto, now in its 12th year, is a four-day art exhibition and sale. Featuring over 1000 artists from 109 leading and emerging galleries, it’s a chance to see some of the art world’s top talent and grab some new pieces for your collection. Representatives from the AGO will be there tomorrow night and we’ll be looking for some new pieces to add to our permanent collection.
If, like us, you want early access to the art and a chance to mingle with the artists, you should join us for the Opening Night Preview. It takes place tomorrow night from 6.30pm – 10pm and is a fundraising event to support our operations and educational programs. You’ll get to see the fair before everyone else as well as enjoying cocktails, nibbles and an electric atmosphere.
Toronto artist Derek Liddington will be presenting the installation Dandy Gangs: A Working Class Art Story.
“The Fluxus-gang-dance will engage Art Toronto guests, as two groups of dancers interact through choreography based on early Fluxus happenings, scenes from West Side Story and operatic interpretations of rock n’ roll and hip-hop ballads,” said Derek.
“Viewers will watch as opposing dandy-gangs entangle in scenarios of territorial misunderstanding, conflict, tension and resolution… Gang members will be presented as caricatures melding fashions and attitudes borrowed from the flâneur, Russian Constructivist’s, dandy and punk; likening the performers to the portrayal of gang culture and conflict in the futuristic film The Warriors, as well as the cultural phenomenon of flash-mobs.”
Our Artist-In-Residence Paul Butler will be hosting one of his infamous collage parties in The Collage Party Pavillion. Collage Party is a performative collage-making event that has taken place in cities around the world for over ten years. Over the 4-day period of the fair, the Collage Party will produce objects and situations in a wide-range of media, from complex, mixed-media performance art events to the most sublime, intimate form of cut-and-paste collages using nothing more than mass media publications, scissors and adhesives. And on Saturday afternoon he’ll be staging a takeover of the AGO Twitter account to bring you a first-hand artist’s eye view of Art Toronto.
David Jaffé on The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens
This Wednesday night join us at the AGO to hear the story behind one of our most famous and valuable paintings, The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens. Tickets cost just $22.50 ($20.50 if you’re a member or a mere $17 if you’re a student), but if you need some more convincing here are a few more reasons we think it’d be great to attend.
Your speaker is David Jaffé. Not only is he Senior Curator in the Department of Painting at the National Gallery in London, he is also a world authority on Rubens. He’s published several books on the subject of the great painter and is bound to have some fascinating insights into his life and his work.
He’s also brilliant at putting Rubens’ work into context for a modern audience. Check out this video where he compares horses in the 17th century to ‘sexy Lamborghinis.’
Ken Thomson acquired the painting at auction at Sotheby’s for £49.5 million, a record for an Old Master at the time and still a huge amount today. Not to give too much away, but the story of how he tracked it down to an isolated monastery is a good one. Today the painting is one of the jewels of the AGO’s Thomson Collection thanks to his generous donation to the Gallery.
David Jaffé on The Massacre of the Innocents by Peter Paul Rubens from The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario (DVD)
With Halloween just around the corner you might well be in the mood for some blood and guts. Massacre of the Innocents shows the slaying ordered by King Herod when he was told by the Three Wise Men that a King of the Jews had been born, and decided to prevent him from becoming a rival. Mary, Joseph and their new born child were already on their way to Egypt. It depicts, amongst other things, a man with a baby raised above his head, preparing to dash it to the ground. Gruesome.
The scene itself has been depicted throughout history and often has political as well as religious significance. Discover why Rubens’ version stands out and hear about the conditions at the time which informed his interpretation.
The painting itself is awe-inspiring. Dramatic and emotional, it demonstrates the influence on Rubens by Italian painters such as Carvaggio. However, the painting has only been recognised as a true Rubens since 2001 – before that it had been miscategorised as belonging to one of his assistants.
If you have any more questions about tonight’s talk or to book your tickets please visit http://www.ago.net/david-jaffé or call us on 1 877 225 4246. If you’re unable to make the talk on Wednesday but you would like to learn about The Massacre of the Innocents you can follow along on our liveblog, which will appear on http://www.artmatters.ca
In this series of blog posts we’ll be looking at each of the artists shortlisted for The Grange Prize 2011: Gauri Gill, Nandini Valli, Althea Thauberger and Elaine Stocki. The Prize is Canada’s only major art prize where the winner is chosen by the public. Vote now. Each year four fine art photographers, two from Canada and two from a partner country, are nominated by an international jury of experts. This year, the partner country is India. The Grange Prize is a partnership between the AGO and Aeroplan.
“It never appealed to me to be an artist who was separated from the world. I think the most exciting work I do is when I’m working in the world, socially-orientated photography is very much about that.” Althea Thauberger, artist statement , The Grange Prize 2011
Althea Thauberger’s work is hard to define. Using film and video as well as the photographs you can see as part of The Grange Prize exhibition, she documents her collaborations with people. The people she works with are often well-defined social groups, and the social experience is a key concern for this artist. She works with communities to develop performances that offer the members opportunities for self-exploration and self-definition. The works, which Thauberger produces to record the collaborations, are always extraordinarily striking documents that entice, engage and surprise her viewers. She is based in Vancouver and has been working as an artist for more than a decade.
Her work has been presented at the 17th Biennale of Sydney; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh; Guangzhou Triennial, China; Manifesta 7, Trento, Italy; Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery, Vancouver; Vancouver Art Gallery; BAK, Utrecht; Künstlerhaus Bethanien, Berlin; Kunstverein Wolfsburg, Germany; Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax; Singapore History Museum; Presentation House Gallery, Vancouver; Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp; Berkeley Art Museum; Insite, San Diego/Tijuana; White Columns, New York; and Seattle Art Museum.
Althea Thauberger: At A Glance
Althea Thauberger was born in 1970. She received a BFA in photography from Concordia University in 2000 and an MFA from University of Victoria in 2002. She is currently studying part-time for a PhD in cultural theory.
She uses films, videos, audio recordings and books to explore themes of social, political, institutional and aesthetic power relations.
As a child she wasn’t allowed any friends who did not share the fundamentalist Christian beliefs of her family.
She was a tree planter for ten years.
One project took her to Kandahar, Afghanistan as a part of the Canadian War Artist program. Canada was still active at the front at the time of her trip.
Starting at noon today, Vanity Fair’s photographer-at-large Todd Eberle will be giving a talk about his new book, Empire of Space. If you couldn’t make it out to hear him speak, you can follow along on our Liveblog right here instead! You can find out more about Todd at http://www.toddeberle.com Holly, Internet & Social Media Content Coordinator
12.02 Weston Family Learning Centre seminar room 3 is packed to the rafters. Clearly lots of anticipation for this talk!
12.05 Todd Eberle is here, looking dapper in trademark hat and scarf.
12.05 Program Coordintor Gilian McIntyre is introducing TE. “Eberle is best known for his interpretative photographs of iconic subject matter.”
12.07 TE is on stage talking about his new book, released back in April. ‘It represents a 30 year span of time and took me three years to compile.’
‘I photograph a number of disparate subjects which is unusual… People rarely go beyond their boundaries. Taking a photograph of something immortalises, elevates it and I get to photograph a lot of iconic things.’
‘Walker Evans had a book where every spread was a pair of images with some relationship to each other. This idea inspired me – you can riff on this pairing idea.’
12.11 TE is going to show us some spreads from his book. The first shows a pair of pictures which reference Chanel.
‘Once I started to pursue the idea of pairs I began to think very abstractly.’
12.14 TE is talking about his obsession with high modernism.
Next shot: Frank Lloyd Wright’s Falling Water
I took 5 shots of this building as a teenager – it’s the oldest picture in the book.
‘I’m formally untrained and completely self-taught. I understood that there’s a relationship between art and architecture which is often overlooked.’
12.17 Next shot: Hilary Clinton/Florence Noel
‘I get to meet alot of interesting people… This was the first attempt to soften Hilary’s image which wasn’t completely successful. I knew she was self-conscious about her calves so I made an attempt to hide it.’
‘Florence in this picture – celebration of the last of the living modernists – she became v private and only agreed to be photographed because a friend agreed to participate in this series.’
12.21 ‘There are a number of people in my book who are no longer livi. I’m happy they get to be memorialised in a nice way.’
12.23 ‘I started to see in pairs – like the rotunda of Thomas Jefferson’s house and CERN’s hadron collider.’ (Two striking circular images – HK)
12.25 Shot: Photograph from the roof of the Whitehouse on a day Clinton had gone to Kosovo – there was a marine helicopter practice/ the same Whitehouse lawn during the Obama inauguration.
12.28 TE is talking about the challenges and pressures he faced in shooting/documenting the Oval Office. ‘I photographed the President’s POV of the office.’
12.30 Shot: Bedroom in the nose of Airforce One (during Clinton’s presidency)/TE’s Grandparents’ House
Harrison Ford was allowed on board to take notes prior to filming the movie.
12.33 Shot: Sunset in Conneticut/Sunset in a Frederick Church painting
‘I started to see the world in a different light as a result of the book.’
12.37 Shot: A pair of garden paths – TE’s grandmother redrafted her garden – this is her garden prior to a visit from Martha Stewart, and again years later when she had lost her sight.’ (Very neat to overgrown – HK)
‘The book became about time, memory, history, loss, destruction, age.’
12.43 ‘My boyfriend sequenced the shots in such a way that it became a narrative, a biography.’
12.45 TE is showing a series of pairings between drag queens and Rorsach-esque flowers, a homage to Andy Warhol.
12.48 Shot: Iggy Pop portrait/ a distressed black sofa (the cover of the book). ‘A fetishished detail of a destroyed Barcelona chair.’
12.50 Floor is now open for questions.
Q Do you use photoshop?
A I use it in a subtle way. I tweak little things but you could hardly see the difference. I heighten the colour occasionally.
Q Has the book changed how you think about the world?
A I see in pairs now – it’s bizarre
‘I don’t know why people would bother with film.’
Todd will be signing copies of his book in ShopAGO for the next hour. We hope you’ve enjoyed tuning in to this live blog session.
Matthew Teitelbaum is the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Michael and Sonja Koerner director, and CEO, but what else do you know about one of Toronto’s most influential arts figures?
Matthew Teitelbaum joined the AGO in 1993 as chief curator before becoming director in 1998.
His official title is the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Michael and Sonja Koerner director and CEO. The practice of ‘named titles’ is more common in the USA than in Canada – it means that the Koerner’s made a donation to the Gallery to cover the cost of the director’s salary.
Since he joined the AGO the Gallery has added almost 60,000 new works to its permanent collection.
Before joining the AGO, Matthew held curatorial positions with the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon and the London Regional Art Gallery. He has taught at Harvard, York University and the University of Western Ontario, and has lectured across North America.
He received the honour of Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres by the French government for his ongoing commitment and contributions to the arts.
He’s from an arty family. His father, Mashel, was a painter and prominent figure in the Toronto art scene.
“(Chagall)’s surrounded by people who started painting and creating abstractly — they were trying to simplify, simplify, simplify and make something pure and beautiful. Chagall never gives up the image. He’s always telling a story.” – Matthew Teitelbaum on Chagall
Matthew Teitelbaum, Christopher Hume and the ROM’s Janet Harding ask, ‘what are museums for?’
Did you catch zombie Andy Warhol lurching around outside the AGO yesterday? With Halloween just around the corner and the fantastic Toronto Zombie Walk just days away, we thought we would teach you how to recreate the look using easy-to-find tools. Now you too can be the coolest zombie out there, and make amazing jokes about ’15 minutes of fame/brains.’
We think Warhol would have approved too – in 1984 he was turned into a zombie himself by famous make-up artist and scare-man Tom Savini!
We invited the amazing Cassandra Carter from Sculpture Supply Canada to demonstrate how to create the look. This is a basic tutorial, suitable for wannabe zombies of all abilities.
First, here’s your shopping list:
Costume – we got everything apart from the wig from a thrift store. Black turtleneck sweater
Makeup – available from Sculpture Supply Canada or similar store. Smooth-On Ultimate Wound Kit
PPI Illustrator – FX palette & Zombie palette
Fleet Street Drying Blood – Dark
Ben Nye Blood – Fresh Scab
Ben Nye Character cream foundations – Blue Spirit, Cadaver grey, Black
Neutral setting powder
Red lip liner
Black eye liner
Latex wedge sponge
Black stipple sponge
Small makeup brushes
Start by attacking your blonde wig with a comb and scissors to recreate the iconic Warhol look. We found turning the wig backwards worked really well! One you’ve created the shape you want, put the wig to one side so you can start to do the make-up. Now is also a good time to make sure your model is clean shaven (men), exfoliated and moisturized.
Step Two: Wounds
Time to crack open the Wound Kit. This kit isn’t too expensive and contains everything you need to recreate realistic gory wounds. There’s even detailed instructions in the box. It helps to draw out the kind of wounds you want beforehand or use pictures for reference. We went for some detail around the mouth and nose – the key with silicon is that less is more. It sticks to itself, so it’s better to start small and build up. Keep your wounds asymmetrical and they’ll look more realistic. Once you’ve used the silicon to create the shape of the wounds you can then start adding makeup.
Apply the base colour you want to the face, not forgetting to work it into the hairline. We used Ben Nye blue spirit for a grey, undead-ish tone. Apply contour shades and highlights, building up darker tones around the eyes, nose and mouth. Then use powder to set the makeup.
Once the base is done you can start adding the finer details. The FX palette can be used to create veins, capillaries, rotted skin, fungus, bruises or anything else you can think of. Add distress marks around the eyes, nose and mouth to give a sense of decay. Use the red lip-liner in the water lines of the eye to make them look bloodshot. You can also use the black stipple sponge and a darker cream foundation in various areas to make the face look even more rotten. The trick here is not to get too carried away with too many colours or things going on – keep it simple! Use the black eyeliner to recreate Andy Warhol’s dark, bushy eyebrows. If you make a mistake, use Q-tips to fix it.
Blood time! Grab your fake blood. We kept our blood subtle (we didn’t want to drip on the artwork) but if you wanted to go wild here, you could. It’s really up to you! Once you’ve added the fake blood all you need to do it add in the wig and glasses. One zombie Andy Warhol!
Some top tips to remember:
Keeping your makeup A-symmetrical is key
Use reference pictures while applying your makeup
Take your time
Draw it out beforehand
Give yourself time to practice
Don’t get too carried away with too many colors or too many things going on.
In this series of blog posts we’ll be looking at each of the artists shortlisted for The Grange Prize 2011: Gauri Gill, Nandini Valli, Althea Thauberger and Elaine Stocki. The Prize is Canada’s only major art prize where the winner is chosen by the public.Vote now. Each year four fine art photographers, two from Canada and two from a partner country, are nominated by an international jury of experts. This year, the partner country is India. The Grange Prize is a partnership between the AGO and Aeroplan.
“The first roll I ever shot… I saw the contact sheet and I was quite amazed. That got me hooked on photography; I wanted to shoot more and more pictures.”Nandini Valli, artist statement (video), The Grange Prize 2011
Nandini Valli Muthiah has rapidly emerged as a key figure in Indian photography, and in particular in the realm of the performative photograph. She draws upon a long, established tradition in Indian popular art, the hyperrealist painted calendar poster of the gods, infecting it with a modern twist and executing the shot with the thoroughness of a cinema auteur. She shows heroic figures in ‘normal’ or ‘modern’ environments – blue-bodied god in a hotel room, or young girls masquerading as Indira Gandhi at a fancy dress show, are comments on India’s perception of the heroic as much as on middle-class aspirations
Born in 1976, Nandini Valli was raised in Chennai, India, where she continues to live. She completed several degrees before entering the field of photography. After an 18-month apprenticeship with a leading commercial photographer in Chennai, Nandini decided to pursue a B.A. Honours in Photography from the Arts Institute at Bournemouth, UK (now known as The Arts University College at Bournemouth). This is where she realized she was more suited to producing art photography as opposed to commercial photography.
“Fantasy or reality, the trained eye of this artist capture the nuances of life in breathtaking detail. The juxtaposition of the pinks against the blues, and the vivid imagery, all work in conformity to provide a fascinating insight into Nandini Valli Muthiah’s world where traditional concepts are constantly tweaked and twisted in a contemporary perspective.”
This talk is a personal look at the life of Marc Chagall and his art during a time of enormous social and political upheaval – World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917. The talk offers a glimpse into Chagall’s youth and Jewish upbringing, his search for a powerful new language of expression, his obsession with the village of his childhood and six decades of creative activity in exile. It also explores Chagall’s friends and rivals – the Constructivists – who created radical forms of art to capture their vision of a new, idealized world of social equality. David Wistow is an Interpretive Planner at the AGO.