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Archive: December, 2011

#AGOTweetUP: January Edition

December 23rd, 2011

Due to the limited number of spaces at this event please register your interest at We’ll get in touch with successful applicants no later than 12/31/11.

Thursday January 5th, 2012
Let’s Get Creative


To celebrate the launch of our 2012 Winter Program Guide you are invited to a free evening of (social) networking, nibbles and a chance to try one of our fantastic adult courses. 

  • Meet other art-loving Twitter users, network and make new friends.
  • Chat to the team at the Art Gallery of Ontario and find out what’s going on behind the scenes at the Weston Family Learning Centre.
  • Get your hands dirty: Try your hands at a life drawing class with one of our great instructors and a real live model.

Event hashtag: #AGOTweetUp

Event Schedule

5.30 – 6.45 p.m. Networking, wine and nibbles in the Weston Family Learning Centre
6.45 – 8 p.m. Life drawing taster class
8.00 – 8.30 p.m More networking, then home!

Can’t make the event? Follow us @AGOToronto for live updates and photos as the night unfolds.
Need more details? Email our Internet and Social Media Content Coordinator, Holly.


Courses and Workshops for Adults

The AGO’s winter offerings for adults include a series of courses and workshops in the Gallery and in the Dr. Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School – a combination of lecture,discussion, tour studio programs that allow adults to engage with art.

From exploration of contemporary to introduction to drawings sessions inspired by AGO works – adult courses and workshops will bring you new perspectives and opportunities to put art into your life. Register now!

Introduction to Sound Art (Winter 2012)

Designed to give participants an introduction to sound as a creative medium.

Hypothesis of Filming Painting (Winter 2012)

This course will investigate the links between painting and filmmaking.

How to Talk to People about Things (Winter 2012)

This workshop uses the AGO gallery setting as a platform to focus on how to communicate with others in difficult situations.

Yoga in the Henry Moore Gallery (Winter 2012)

Develop your skills amongst the reclining figurative sculptures with an experienced Yoga instructor.

Experimenting with Sound Art (Winter 2012)

This workshop examines some of the experimental practices that have shaped the history of sound art.

Pop Culture and the Written Word (Winter 2012)

Through the AGO’s pop art collection, this course will inspire creative and critical writing about modern pop events.

Introduction to Painting (Winter 2012)

This foundation-level course will draw upon the AGO’s painting collections as a platform for teaching methods and techniques.

Bob Dylan and Contemporary Art (Winter 2012)

Using musician Bob Dylan’s life and work as a parallel to a contemporary artist’s path, this workshop will look at the relationship between artists and their audience while also discussing the link between music and contemporary practice.

Tagging Along (Winter 2012)

As part of their exhibition in the AGO’s Toronto Now series, local artists Sean Martindale and Pascal Paquette invite you to join them for an outdoor tour of Toronto artworks.

Working in Series – Acrylic and Oil (Winter 2012)

Learn to develop a body of work in a series.

Advanced Painting and the Creative Process (Winter 2012)

The course will build an experimental approach to image-making and execution. Students will write, draw, sculpt, and work with photography and video to create and manipulate imagery and its meaning according to their own intentions.

Figurative Sculpture (Winter 2012)

Closely guided by instruction, students will focus on sculpting the human form. In addition to developing skills of observation and proportion while working from a live model, students will also be exposed to current applications of life modelling, sculpture techniques, and basic mold making in a contemporary art context.

Casting Workshop – Methods of Mold Making (Winter 2012)

Learn how to incorporate a variety of materials and mold-making applications into your own practice.

Casting Workshop – Making Editions (Winter 2012)

Explore the concept of the original and the copy as you create an artist’s multiple.

Life Drawing (Winter 2012)

Working with life models, students will explore the technical and perceptual skills needed to confidently produce drawings.

Drawing From Gallery to Studio (Winter 2012)

Using originals in the AGO collections as starting points, students embark on a journey through drawing.

Integrated Drawing (Winter 2012)

Examine drawing from the perspective of various disciplines. Combining studio techniques and visits to AGO exhibitions, this course will explore the possibilities of non-traditional materials and approaches to drawing.

Artist Bookworks (Winter 2012)

Students will explore a variety of concepts, techniques, and materials as they produce their own bookwork.

Experimenting with Mixed Media and Printmaking (Winter 2012)

Combining elements of traditional drawing techniques, collage, and printmaking, students will push the boundaries of their own image-making by exploring new methods of production.

Photomontage and Photography (Winter 2012)

Students learn the basics of digital photomontage while focusing on experimentation and composition.

Figurative Photography (Winter 2012)

Study portraiture, the nude, street documentation, and candid photography by focusing on the human form and the roles it plays in photography.

Tintin and the Thomson Collection of Ship Models

December 22nd, 2011

The AGO invites you to celebrate Ken Thomson and Michael Turner’s dedication to collecting ship models and to discover the link between Turner’s passion for ship models and his lifelong work on the Tintin tales, which feature ships not unlike the models in the Thomson Collection. 

The highly anticipated film The Adventures of Tintin got its Canadian release yesterday. Based on Hergé’s classic adventure books, the film stars Jamie Bell as fearless journalist Tintin and Andy Serkis as his companion Captain Haddock. Together the pair set off on a treasure hunt for a sunken ship commanded by Haddock’s ancestor.

We’ve got some great activities happening at the AGO to celebrate the release of the film. Not only can you come and see the kinds of ships that those in the film are based on, we’ve also got a great link to Tintin thanks to famous art collector Ken Thomson, who donated the AGO’s entire ship model collection.

Thomson’s interest in ship models grew out of his close friendship with British publishing executive Michael Turner. A renowned scholar and collector of ship models, Turner also co-translated the famous/popular Belgian Tintin comics from their original French into English with Leslie Lonsdale-Cooper. Thomson met Turner in 1987 when Thomson acquired the publishing house that Michael Turner was running at the time. Turner shared his passion for ship models with Thomson, and soon the two began working together to establish the Thomson Collection of Ship Models.

Below the trailer you’ll find some great examples of ships in our collection that are linked to the film. We hope you’ll come and see them for yourselves! At the bottom of this post we’ve also got  information about some great Tintin activities taking place in the Gallery.

Hergé’s Unicorn and the Thomson Collection’s Breda


1. British Two-decker 70 Gun Warship, around 1692 Navy Board Model, scale 1:48Great Britain boxwood, fruitwood, brass, silk
2. Sketch of the Unicorn, from Hergé’s The Secret of the Unicorn

The French story The Secret of the Unicorn was set on a vessel belonging to King Louis XIV’s fleet, while the English-language version was set on one belonging to the British monarch Charles II. The events of Hergé’s story date back to 1698, making the Unicorn a contemporary of La Licorne, the 17th-century British 70-gun warship in the Thomson Collection. Both ships are third-rate, two-decker vessels with three masts, quarter galleries at the stern, fighting tops and a spirit topmast on the bowsprit. The model of The Unicorn was created after consulting several ship drawings, while the Thomson Collection’s model, previously identified as the Breda, likely also represents another ship of that period, either the Nassau or the Essex, which launched in 1699 and 1700 respectively.

This ship’s adventure was first published in daily comic strips in the French newspaper Le Soir between June 1942 and January 1943. The original drawing of the ship was not historically accurate – the actual ship had only a single row of gunports, 20 cannons and one row of windows in the stern galleries. Eventually, Hergé realized that a ship of higher rank would be more appropriate, and when it came time to publish The Secret of the Unicorn as a book, he turned to historical sources, conducting thorough research on shipbuilding in the late 1600s. The decoration of the ship was largely copied from Jean Bérain’s 1689 designs for the Brilliant. Bérain’s sketches are strikingly similar to certain parts of the Thomson model, particularly the stern galleries of the ship. 

Hergé’s Sirius and the Thomson Collection’s Lammermuir 

British Trawler, Lammermuir, 1950 Builder’s Model, scale 1:32 Great Britain wood, metal, gold- and silver-plated fittings Tintin approaches the Sirius, from Herge’s Red Rackham’s Treasure

1.British Trawler, Lammermuir, 1950, Builder’s Model, scale 1:32, Great Britain, wood, metal, gold- and silver-plated fittings
2. Tintin approaches the Sirius, from Herge’s Red Rackham’s Treasure

The Sirius, which features in Herge’s Red Rackham’s Treasure, was named after the first entirely steam-powered ship that crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 1838. The actual form of the vessel, however, is more modern, dating to the period around the book’s publication (1944). Like the Unicorn, the Sirius was a composite creation based on a number of real vessels. The main design of the Sirius was based on a trawler called John-o.88, which was put into service in 1936 at Ostend, Belgium. For close-up illustrations of more detailed parts of the ship such as the windlass, a device used to lift heavy objects, Hergé copied from photographs of various other steam engine trawlers.

Hergé’s Sirius is strikingly similar to the Lammermuir in the Thomson Collection. The two trawlers were contemporaries, as the Lammermuir was built in Aberdeen in 1950, just years after the Sirius was introduced in the Tintin series. A model of Hergé’s Sirius, made in 1952 by A. Van Noeyen, bears a significant resemblance to the Lammermuir in its colouring, layout and size. Both ships are trawlers known as “sidewinders,” in which the trawling nets are set up along the sides of the ship. The main difference is that the Sirius was a steam-powered vessel, whereas the Lammermuir was the world’s first diesel-engine deep-sea fishing trawler.

Hergé’s Ramona and the Thomson Collection’s model of the Rodsley, Rawnsley, Rookley and Reaveley.

British Cargo Ships, Rodsley, Rawnsley, Rookley and Reaveley, 1939–1940 Builder’s Model, scale 1:96 Great Britain wood, metal, gold-plated fittings    The Ramona being approached by another ship, from Hergé’s The Red Sea Sharks

1. British Cargo Ships, Rodsley, Rawnsley, Rookley and Reaveley, 1939–1940, Builder’s Model, scale 1:96, Great Britain, wood, metal, gold-plated fittings.  2. The Ramona being approached by another ship, from Hergé’s The Red Sea Sharks

Many of Tintin’s adventures feature cargo ships, from the quarantined Pachacamac in Prisoners of the Sun to the Karaboudjan in The Crab With the Golden Claws. Hergé drew the Ramona from the book The Red Sea Sharks using photographs and a detailed plan of the steam ship Egypt, which was built at the Jos Boel & Son shipyard in Amsterdam in 1946. The more detailed sketches of the interior were taken during a four-day sail between Belgium and Sweden aboard the Reine Astrid.

Of the numerous cargo ships in this gallery, the Ramona most resembles a model in the Thomson Collection built by William Doxford & Sons Ltd. in Sunderland, England, in 1939–1940. This model served as the original design for four motor cargo ships: the Rodsley, Rawnsley, Rookley and Reaveley. The Rawnsley was bombed by an aircraft off the Greek island of Crete during World War II while on its way from Haifa, Israel, to Souda Bay, Crete. The Rodsley, Rookley and Reaveley continued to operate for the next three decades for various shipping companies around the world.

The Ramona and all the vessels built from William Doxford’s model are excellent examples of the most modern cargo ships built during World War II. They would have been similar in size, tonnage and appearance – as well as in function – as merchant cargo ships. Both the Ramona and Doxford’s model have tall air vents rigged with cargo derricks in front the bridge, which were contemporary innovations. Other modern features include the radio telegraphy rigged between the masts, as well as the angle of the bow and round shape of the stern. These additions differ from earlier cargo ships such as the Glamis (1936) and the Menin Ridge (1924), both of which can also be seen in the Thomson Collection.

Because the SS Egypt and the Rodsley, Rawnsley, Rookley and Reaveley were built during wartime, they would have been armed with guns to protect themselves against attack from enemy ships. However, it is likely that Hergé did not include guns on the Ramona, because Captain Haddock is unable to fight back after a submarine attack on the ship in The Red Sea Sharks and must radio the U.S.S. Los Angeles for assistance.

Join Tintin at the AGO for adventures in 2012!

Tintin and the Secret of the Ship Models
January 1, 2012

Join us on New Years Day as we go on a nautical adventure with Tintin and the AGO’s Ship Models collection! Inspired by the AGO exhibition Tintin at Sea, our own ship models collection and the Steven Speilberg movie, The Adventures of Tintin, we’ll be tapping to the tunes of an east coast fiddle, learning how to step dance, making treasure maps in a bottle and floating homemade boats! It’s going to be a rollicking good time!

Family Sunday Activities

  • Walker Court performances and workshop
  • Art making activities
  • Hands-on centre open 10-4
  • Tintin film screenings in Jackman Hall
  • Storytelling in Thomson Ship Models

Tintin and the AGO’s Ship Model Collection
February 29, 2012

Join Simon Stephens and Lesley Lonsdale-Cooper to hear about ships, ship models and Tintin.
Simon Stephens is curator of the Ship Model and Boat Collection at the National Maritime Museum, London. He curated the Thomson Collection of ship models installation at the AGO and co-curated the National Maritime Museum’s 2005 Tintin At Sea exhibition. Lesley Lonsdale-Cooper co-translated Hergé’s Tintin books into English with Michael Turner.  Michael introduced Ken Thomson to ship models collecting.

Jack Chambers’ Story: Light, Spirit, Place, Time and Life.

December 21st, 2011

There were many sides to artist Jack Chambers. He was a passionate defender of artists’ rights, an experimental filmmaker with an international reputation, and a painter who continually reinvented his language of expression. In a new exhibition of his work at the Art Gallery of Ontario you can explore each facet of this complex and fascinating artist by viewing his paintings and his films alongside painstakingly compiled archival material. We caught up with the show’s curator, Dennis Reid, to learn more about Jack Chambers and the exhibition.

The show is an incredibly comprehensive look at Chambers’ life and work. How long did it take to assemble, and what kind of challenges did you face?

This exhibition is primarily comprised of the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. A number of years ago the Gallery made the decision to collect key Canadian artists in depth and in breadth, and the idea was the AGO would be the place you came if you had an interest in researching these artists and understanding them better.

Along with that was the pursuit of the papers, the archives of each artist, and the commitment in every case to do a significant exhibition of the AGO collection of that work. Some of the precedents are Betty Goodwin, Paterson Ewen, Greg Curnoe and Michael Snow.

In the mid nineties, the AGO began talking to (Jack Chambers’) sons about a joint purchase donation. They decided they wanted to do something with the material, which had been sitting in a house up to that point. The AGO went out and raised some money from key supporters, the purchase of the works was made and then the donation of the papers. Part of this process was the commitment to do an exhibition with this material – the largest collection of Chambers’ work anywhere in the world.

We made the decision to include the archival material as an integral part of the exhibition, and to round things out we borrowed some works from private collectors – there are twelve loans in the exhibition altogether.


What is Jack Chambers’ place in Canada’s national consciousness, and why should he be viewed as an important Canadian artist?

I’m not sure it’s very clear at this point. That is one of the reasons it was so important to do an exhibition. There was a time back in the 1970s when Chambers had quite a high profile and his work was widely admired in Canada. He was also known internationally as an underground (personal) filmmaker in the late sixties and seventies, which was really the only reputation he had outside of Canada at that point.

The work hasn’t been out there that much. After his wife died his two sons were managing the estate and I think the decision was made at that point to not aggressively market the work. The last exhibition devoted to his work was in back in the eighties, so it’s been quite a while.


The Walrus, talking about Lunch, quoted you as saying that ‘all the show’s themes are in that painting.’ Can you tell us some more about the show’s themes and how they are represented in this work?

Lunch is a painting [thatChambers] never finished. He laboured at it from 1969 until his death in 1978. It depicts Chambers, his wife and his two boys at Sunday lunch. They’re sitting at the dining room table in a rather formal setting with two bottles of wine on the table, and there’s an incredible view out the window behind Jack and an Easter lily down in one corner. The flower gives a sense of the time of year and, I think, also brings a spiritual dimension to it, as does the way in which they sit around the table.

Lunch [unfinished] 1969 oil and synthetic paint in a natural resin varnish (possibly) on plywood 197.9 x 182.9 Purchase with the assistance of the Judith Rachel Harris Foundation and Ethel Harris, 2007 2007/80 © 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers

Chambers, Jack, Lunch [unfinished1969 oil and synthetic paint in a natural resin varnish (possibly) on plywood 197.9 x 182.9 Purchase with the assistance of the Judith Rachel Harris Foundation and Ethel Harris, 2007 2007/80 © 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers”

Jack would probably cringe to think of this but in a certain sense it evokes the last supper, and so that becomes very moving when you think that he knew that he was struggling for his life during these years.

He was diagnosed with leukemia in 1969 when he began this painting and he was told he had six months to live. He persisted against it and lived for another nine years, which is pretty incredible. This painting, though never finished, is in a certain sense the measure of that struggle.

You look out the window and there you are in North London, suburban London, Ontario. So there is that sense of place that is very strong. The whole idea of time is very apparent – although this is a moment that’s captured it’s also about dealing with change over a period of time. So there they all are – light, spirit, place,time and life.

But I would argue that all of the shows themes are probably present in all of the paintings. These were central issues for Chambers.


Chambers described the style of some of his paintings as perceptual realism – how would you define the term?

Although Jack wrote about perceptual realism I’m not sure the meaning of that term was ever crystal clear. My understanding (and I’ve thought about this for many years) is that the paintings he called the perceptual realist paintings were the ones like The 401 Towards London and Meadow, Lunch and the interior family scenes.

These are all based on photographs. He would take hundreds and hundreds of photographs of something and from that choose exactly the right one and have it blown up to about the size of a sheet of paper. Then he would mark it off in a grid and put that grid on the panel or canvas that he was working on. In about a year or two years usually he would have finished the painting.


Chambers, Jack	Meadow	1972-1976	oil and possibly synthetic media on plywood	182.8 x 182.4	Purchase with the assistance of the Judith Rachel Harris Foundation and Ethel Harris, 2007	2007/82	© 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers

Chambers, Jack Meadow 1972-1976 oil and possibly synthetic media on plywood 182.8 x 182.4 Purchase with the assistance of the Judith Rachel Harris Foundation and Ethel Harris, 2007 2007/82 © 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers


He used perceptual realism, I believe, to describe his understanding that everything we know, that we can know, comes to us through our perception, through our eyes. It fascinated him – what is it that we see?  And he realized that everything that we see is because of light, so that became a key element as well. Time comes into it as well, because what he was trying to capture was that “wow” moment – not necessarily of incredible beauty but a moment that is meaningful. A nice example is the story of how he painted The 401 Towards London.

He was off to a meeting in Toronto and drove out from London to the 401, over the overpass.. He happened to look up into his rear view mirror and saw this view along the highway that, with the light and everything else, was just one of those magical moments. He couldn’t do anything about it at that point and went on to Toronto for his meeting. But when he got back later that night and the next morning he went out to the spot with his camera. We think he spent probably the better part of a day running around and shooting from different ways trying to capture that moment. There’s a whole array of photographs from that area but he eventually found the one that brings back the feeling that he had when he saw the view in the mirror.

Chambers, Jack	401 Towards London No. 1	1968 - 1969	oil on mahogany	183.0 x 244.0	Gift of Norcen Energy Resources Limited,1986	86/47	© 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers

Chambers, Jack 401 Towards London No. 1 1968 - 1969 oil on mahogany 183.0 x 244.0 Gift of Norcen Energy Resources Limited,1986 86/47 © 2011 Estate of Jack Chambers


He abhorred having it compared to magic realism and to the photographic realism movement that was going on in the U.S. at that point. He felt his work was very different from that, much more serious, and so he persisted with this term.

What are some of the show highlights for you?

That’s like asking me which is my favourite child – I can’t say. I’m so pleased with the exhibition – one of the goals, because it’s thematically organized, was that each of the areas be clear. That you knew one of the areas was about light, you knew you were in the area about place. But at the same time we wanted to get the flow and the sight lines because some of the paintings are incredible from a distance. Jim Burke, our designer, did a brilliant job and it’s turned out exceptionally well.

I feel that this is an exhibition you could walk through in 15 or 20 minutes and have an incredible experience just by addressing the big pieces that are right there. Or, you could spend five days in there going through all the archival material, carefully chosen to relate to the works that are on the wall.

There are wonderful audio tapes to listen to, incredible screened images and then all day, every day we’re running his films in a screening room in the centre so you could spend hours just watching the films.

There’s an anecdote that Jack Chambers once knocked on Picasso’s door to ask him where he should study. Picasso recommended Barcelona but Chambers chose Madrid. Is there truth to this story?

The story is typical Jack and apparently true. When he went to Europe he didn’t know where he was going; he just knew he wanted to go to the source of what he called the “classical art tradition.” By that he meant the Old Masters and the drawing from the figure and that high level of craftsmanship. So he went by boat to Naples and on board the ship he met a couple from Austria. He tagged along with them and went to Austria and then made his way back through Europe. As he was passing through Southern France he saw the name of a village and thought, “isn’t that where Picasso lives?”

So he went to the village and was able to determine that yes, Monsieur Picasso lives in that house just there. So, Jack being Jack, he knocked on the door (one story is that he actually had to climb over the fence first) and Picasso himself answered.

Jack said, ‘where should I study art? I’ve come to Europe to study art and I want to be a great artist like you.’

Picasso apparently replied “Barcelona,” which is where he had studied. So off Jack went to Barcelona. But for some reason it didn’t stick and he slid on through, ending up at the Academy in Madrid. It was all kind of chance, in a funny way.

When he was enrolled in the Academy in Madrid, he had summers off,so he would travel around Spain or elsewhere in Europe. One summer he wanted to go to the UK and decided to write to Henry Moore, asking if he could use a studio assistant.

Moore wrote back and declined, but said that there was a gentleman just down the lane who could use a studio assistant. So Chambers spent the summer in the Midlands and ended up teaching art in an amateur school and doing commission portraits.

I had the pleasure of knowing him; he was an amazing person and entirely unpredictable. Greg Curnoe used to say that you never knew if he was joking or not. Sometimes he was dead serious and sometimes it was just a joke – I’m not sure if he even knew which was which sometimes.

Jack Chambers: Light, Spirit, Time, Place and Life is open at the AGO until May 13, 2012. For more information and to buy tickets please visit

The General Idea behind General Idea: a panel discussion (Audio)

December 19th, 2011

No Mean Feet, General Idea

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Recorded: Wednesday, November 16, 7 pm in Jackman Hall
Duration: 01:34:11

In connection with the exhibition Haute Culture: General Idea – A Retrospective, 1969-1994, join artist Luis Jacob, artist and writer Sholem Krishtalka and art historian Virginia Solomon for a stimulating discussion about this foundational Canadian artist group’s diverse and increasingly influential production.

Luis Jacob graduated from the University of Toronto with degrees in Philosophy and Semiotics in 1996, and has been actively participating in artist-initiated exhibitions and projects for two decades. Working as artist, curator, and writer, Luis Jacob’s diverse practice has addressed issues of social interaction and the subjectivity of aesthetic experience. Highlights of his recent work include solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2011); Art in General, New York City (2010); Fonderie Darling, Montréal (2010); the Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach, Germany (2009); and Hamburger Kunstverein, Hamburg, Germany (2008).  He participated in the exhibition “House Guests: Contemporary Art at the Grange”, Art Gallery of Ontario (2002); and during the reopening of the AGO, Luis Jacob’s work was displayed as part of the permanent collection in the Lind galleries in 2008.

Sholem Krishtalka is an artist and writer.  He holds a BFA from Concordia University, and an MFA from York University.  His writing has been featured in Canadian Art, C Magazine, CBC Arts Online, Bookforum, among others.  His artwork has been featured in Carte Blanche 2: Painting, a survey of contemporary Canadian painting. He launched a specially-commissioned folio of prints with ArtInvestor, a Munich-based multiples store and magazine; and his paintings are featured in the premiere issue of Headmaster magazine, a queer arts and culture magazine out of Providence, RI. He had a solo show in Brooklyn, New York, at Jack the Pelican Presents; most recently, he has had solo shows at the Art Gallery of Peterborough and the Canadian Lesbian and Gay Archives.

Virginia Solomon is an art historian, curator, and critic whose work investigates the intersections among art, social life, and politics.She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Southern California, working on a dissertation titled ‘Queer Outsider Methods: General Idea’s Art and Politics, 1969-1994.’ She places General Idea’s practice in the context of an expanded and evolving conversation concerning the relationship between art and politics, and argues that its incorporation of sexuality enabled it to reconfigure what constituted both political and artistic activity.

Fred Ritchin: Meaningful Media (Audio)

December 13th, 2011

Fred Ritchin

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Recorded: Thursday, November 10, 7 in Jackman Hall
Duration: 01:33:56

The digital revolution, for it truly to be revolutionary, involves more than increasing efficiencies of production and distribution. It involves profoundly different ways of understanding the world and ourselves. We create our media, and our media then re-create us. Where are our media leading us—politically, spiritually, psychologically? Do we want to go there? How can we influence our own futures via the kinds of media that we create and use?

Fred Ritchin is professor of Photography & Imaging at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. He is the author of After Photography (W. W. Norton, 2009) and In Our Own Image: The Coming Revolution in Photography (Aperture, 1990), the first book on the digital revolution and photography. He began writing on digital imaging in 1984 for The New York Times Magazine, and his articles, essays and books have been translated into many languages. Ritchin is co-founder of PixelPress, an organization dedicated to creating new forms of media and advancing human rights, former picture editor of The New York Times Magazine, former executive editor of Camera Arts magazine, and was founding director of the Photojournalism and Documentary Photography educational program at the International Center of Photography. The website he created for The New York Timesin 1996, “Bosnia: Uncertain Paths to Peace,” was nominated by Times for a Pulitzer Prize in public service. Ritchin has also curated numerous exhibitions, including one on Latin American Photography, another on Brazilian photographer Sebastiao Salgado, and a recent exhibition for the New York Photo Festival called “Bodies in Question.”

This talk is generously supported by Penny Rubinoff.

Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: 10 tips for a great visit

December 9th, 2011

Planning to visit Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde at the AGO over the holidays? Here’s ten of our top tips for making your visit truly memorable. Show closes January 15, 2012.

1. Meet the Russian Avant-Garde
For an amazing introduction to the exhibition check out Creating a New World: An intro to Chagall and the Russian Avant Garde. Presented by our interpretative planner David, this audio guide is just under an hour long and will give you a great overview of what you can expect to see. It’s full of fascinating insights into Chagall’s work as well as introducing many of the other artists in the show. It’s a perfect listen for a long commute.

. Pick a time that suits you best
Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde is a time-ticketed exhibition. This means you can pick a morning, midday or afternoon slot depending on your schedule. You can enter at any time during the slot you choose and you can stay in the exhibition as long as you like – we encourage you to take your time! If you want to beat the crowds weekday afternoons are a good bet. If you want a buzzy atmosphere and a great bargain visit us on Wednesday evenings. We’re open late and up until December 21 you can see Chagall from 6-8pm for just $12.50.

Getting here
We’re not going to lie, parking in downtown Toronto can be tricky. To make things a little bit easier we’ve got a list of nearby car parks for you to choose from right here. You’ll also find information about cycling, taking the subway and other public transport so that however you want to get here, you can do it quickly, easily and safely. GO customers will receive a special 20% discount on admission to Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris by presenting a GO ticket, Go pass or PRESTO card at the AGO box office.

4. Check in for great offers
Use Foursquare? Check-in when you get to the Gallery and you’ll unlock great tips, earn points and access some very special winter deals! Don’t forget to leave a tip of your own to share your experiences with future visitors.

Have a surf 
We’ve got free wifi throughout the building for our visitors to use. Bring your laptop, tablet or save your smartphone data allowance by logging in. The network is called ‘AGO FREE WIFI’ – why not send us a tweet using the #ChagallTO hashtag whilst you’re online? There’s plenty of serene spots in the Gallery that are great for doing a bit of work or catching up on emails. We especially like the Espresso Bar, on the top level of the new Centre for Contemporary Art, as it gets loads of natural light.

6. Talk back to us
As you wander through Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde you’ll come across one of our ‘talkback stations,’ stocked with paper and pencils. At the station you’ll find a thought-provoking question related to the exhibition – it’s a great chance to document your immediate reaction to the show and we absolutely love reading your responses. See what some previous visitors have left us.

7. Stay fuelled

Looking at mindblowing art can be hungry work. Enjoy the Chagall-inspired Prix Fixe Menu in FRANK Restaurant. Reservations are recommended. For a relaxed, family-friendly environment, visit caféAGO. Want to find out how we created a menu inspired by Chagall? Check out this great interview with Executive Chef Anne Yarymowich in which she talks about the process of creating a menu that’s as creative as the art.
Plate of delicious food inspired by Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde at AGO's FRANK Restaurant

8. Keep exploring
We think that Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde is a great introduction to some of the most important moments in Russian art history. If you’re left wanting more, head downstairs to Chagall’s sister exhibition, Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters from Revolutionary Russia, 1910–1940.   Containing rare books and posters from revolutionary Russia, it’s a chance to explore two exciting branches of graphic design: futurism and constructivism, and learn about how these ground-breaking art movements sffected the everyday visual culture of Soviet Russia.

. Cross some items off your holiday shopping list
For the most unique merchandise in Canada, be sure to stop in at shopAGO, located just inside the main entrance to the Gallery. There’s also a satellite location at the Chagall exhibition exit. Artist prints, artisan jewellery and home-ware, toys and books are all available. Check out our Top 10 holiday gift ideas for culture vultures blog post to get some inspiration!

10. Have fun!
Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde is a riot of colour and imagination. As much as it’s an amazing space to learn about art, it’s also a great spot for daydreaming, for discussion or for creative inspiration. How you experience the exhibition is up to YOU – we encourage all of our visitors of all ages to interact with the art in a way that makes them happy. There’s no right or wrong way to enjoy a show like Chagall – just make sure you manage to visit before it leaves town on January 15, 2012.

McCready Lecture on Canadian Art by Philip Monk Marshall McLuhan, General Idea, and Me! (Audio)

December 7th, 2011

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Recorded: Wednesday, November 9, 7 – 8:30 pm in Jackman Hall
Duration: 01:16:25

Inaugurating their collective enterprise in the heyday of the “medium is the message,” General Idea were often dismissed as camp “triviality.” Yet they created a fictional system based on popular culture that was as coherent as the media analyses of Marshall McLuhan and the International Situationists. The lecture considers General Idea’s contribution to the Toronto School of communication theory.

Philip Monk is Director of the Art Gallery of York University and has served as a curator at both the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Power Plant. A published writer since 1977, he currently is finishing his eighth book Glamour is Theft: A User’s Guide to General Idea, a book as if written in the 1970s and as if written by Roland Barthes (in English translation).

What motivates you to participate?

December 6th, 2011

Join the Art Gallery of Ontario on Thursday, December 8 2011 for an online discussion about participation in the art world.

What: #ArtHour (formerly #AMC/Art Chat Monthly) is a Twitter chat with a new art topic each month. We invite you to spend one hour each month thinking about and sharing what art really means to you.
When: Thursday, December 8, 11:00 – 12:00 EST and then every second Thursday of the month.
Where: On Twitter – Follow @AGOToronto for more information or search for the hashtag #ArtHour. We’ll also be posting the questions on Facebook and here on the blog.
Who: #ArtHour is for everyone –  Galleries and museums, arts professionals, artists and anyone interested in learning more and meeting other passionate art fans.
Why: It’s a great, free way of meeting art fans from across the world.
How: Starting at 11am we’ll be asking a series of questions around the month’s topic for you to answer, debate and discuss.

From 11am until 12.00pm EST on Thursday, December 8 the chat host (us!) will be tweeting a question every 10 minutes using the hastag #ArtHour. Anyone can respond, also using the #ArtHour hashtag. What is a hashtag?

For example, we would tweet:

Q1 What is your favourite art gallery? #ArtHour

And you could tweet back:

A1 The Art Gallery of Ontario! #ArtHour

Our December topic is PARTICIPATION. What events have you taken part in recently, and what can art galleries do to encourage  people to participate? From engaging exhibitions to great social media campaigns, we want to talk about what really floats your boat in the art world.

We hope that you’ll help spread the word and join us for this great online event. For more information about #ArtHour please email

See you on Twitter,  Thursday, December 8 11:00 – 12:00 EST 

Update: Here are this month’s questions. You can take part on Twitter, Facebook, or leave a comment right here on the blog.

Q1. What was the last art event you participated in? (Gallery visit or event, show opening, group project etc.)

Q2. Which galleries do you interact with online using social media platforms like Facebook or Twitter?

Q3. What can art galleries do to encourage you to participate?

Q4. What puts you off from visiting an art gallery?

Q5. What’s the coolest piece of art you’ve ever interacted with?

Photo credits: eldh via Flickr