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Archive: June, 2012

Saying goodbye to Penone’s Cedro di Versailles

June 19th, 2012

Five thousand kilograms is a whole lot of cedar. That’s what the crew in this video had to contend with when they removed Giuseppe Penone’s Cedro di Versailles from the AGO on Feb. 15, 2012.

Cedro di Versailles is an awe-spiring work that stood as the centrepiece of Penone’s exhibition in the Galleria Italia, The Hidden Life Within. His tree-centric works, on loan from a private collector, were chosen to christen the Galleria when it opened after TransformationAGO in 2008. They remained in the light-filled space, lending it vitality and wonder, until February.

Listen to Penone talk about his work at an AGO Meet the Artist event here.

Podcast: Picasso and the Art Market (Audio)

June 18th, 2012

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Molly Ott Ambler and Elizabeth Gorayeb
Recorded on Wednesday, June 6, 7 p.m. in Jackman Hall
Duration: 01:20:41

Molly Ott Ambler and Elizabeth Gorayeb, vice-presidents from Sotheby’s New York, visited the AGO on June 6 for a fascinating discussion about the intriguing world of the art market for Pablo Picasso while he was alive, as well as his relationship with his dealers. They also addressed the current market for Picasso’s work. Ms. Ott Ambler, as director of Day Sales and in her 15 years at Sotheby’s, has been privileged to handle Picasso’s works from every period and in every medium, from delicate pencil drawings to unique terracotta hand-painted owls. Ms. Gorayeb has been involved with many record breaking sales including Picasso’s Homme á la pipe.

Presented in partnership with Sotheby’s Canada.

Griffin Poetry Prize winner Ken Babstock’s art-inspired poem

June 13th, 2012

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Betty Goodwin (Canadian) 2009,  Tarpaulin # 8, 1976.

Betty Goodwin (Canadian) 2009, Tarpaulin # 8, 1976. Tarpaulin, rope and wire. 322.6 x 261.6 cm. © 2012 Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto poet Ken Babstock won the prestigious Griffin Poetry Prize for his book Methodist Hatchet last week. It’s an amazing achievement and, inspired by his win, we want to share a piece of Babstock’s poetry that’s near and dear to our hearts.

For the Gallery’s reopening after Transformation AGO in 2008, we invited Babstock to create a piece based on Betty Goodwin’s Tarpaulin #8. The recording was installed in a room dedicated to Goodwin on level 5 as part of “Multiple Perspectives,” which captured and shared views on artworks from artists, collectors, curators, conservators, teens and kids. Visitors accessed these recordings through audio stations next to the work or by calling a number and listening on their cellphones.

And now you can listen to Babstock’s poem right here or download it and take it with you. Enjoy!

Curious about this artwork? Listen to AGO conservator Sherry Phillips talk about it and how it was stored and installed here.

Podcast: Contemporary Opera’s Big Bang (Audio)

June 12th, 2012

Einstein on the Beach, Lucie Jansch

Einstein on the Beach, Photo: Lucie Jansch

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Robert Wilson, Philip Glass, and Lucinda Childs in conversation
Recorded on Wednesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. in Baillie Court
Duration: 1:19:10

Visual artist and director Robert Wilson and composer Philip Glass broke all the rules of conventional opera when, in 1976, they created Einstein on the Beach, the influential masterwork that brought them international renown. It is a stunning five-hour fusion of sound, image and movement that, in the words of the Washington Post, “seduces the viewer into an immense, imagined universe of its own.” Lucinda Childs danced in the ’76 production and has contributed to the choreography of every subsequent iteration.

In advance of an international tour, these three legendary artists—all now in their seventies—united for a roundtable discussion moderated by Luminato artistic director Jorn Weisbrodt about the creation and evolution of their groundbreaking work and its North American premiere at Luminato.

How the lost are found

June 11th, 2012

Reflections on Album: A Public Project

A guest post by Simone Wharton, Digital Content and Publishing Intern. Included throughout are pictures from inside of the albums distributed through the project, along with comments from custodians explaining why they adopted their albums.

Album 281: "Love at first sight."

Album: A Public Project by Max Dean is difficult to describe — is it performance, installation, a photography exhibition, or something completely indefinable? Salvaging albums from garage sales, paper shows, auctions and flea markets, Dean amassed more than 600 albums containing the lives of people he had never met. Some have photographs of first birthdays, family vacations, celebrations; some distinctly Canadian — deer in Banff, skating on homemade rinks, snow piles, old Toronto streets, summers in Muskoka, trips to Niagara Falls; and others contain fascinating histories from Scotland, Northern Europe or East Asia.

Dean realized that these albums were too precious for one person to hold onto. He had to find new, willing and enthusiastic custodians for these rejected, discarded or lost photo albums. Thus the FotoBug came into existence, a means to deliver these albums to photo-enthusiasts, dabbling archivists, artists and everyday Torontonians.

Album 384: "The person in the album, I believe, is a singer. She is speaking to me. I do not know why yet. But time will tell."

The most enchanting element of this month-long project has been watching and listening to people’s reactions as they peruse the albums and finally come across the one that they just cannot part with. They are an eclectic group, these unwitting custodians, and in observing them I feel there are four categories that many of them fall into.

There are the SKEPTICS who enter into the fray apprehensive and cautious. They try to be nonchalant as they browse the albums, slowly becoming more involved and absorbed as the stories unfold before their eyes. When they finally choose an album, they appear slightly incredulous of how quickly they have been transformed by this multilayered project.

The ENTHUSIASTS are very different, descending upon the FotoBug like kids in a candy store. And when they’ve found their albums, they present them like golden tickets to Max Dean, Mr. Willy Wonka himself. They depart quickly with their prize, unable to wait, wanting to delve into the treasures inside.

Album 303: "It is an album full of baby pictures and I never had a baby - but love them - so it is now 'my' baby album."

Then we have the FASTIDIOUS SELECTORS — the fascinated observers, looking carefully through each album, unable to decide, enchanted by a photo here, drawn to a cover there, but finding nothing that speaks to them… yet. They might be a little harder to please, but eventually they too fall in love with an album, and they hold on tight, before it slips through their grasp.

Last but not least, are the FATED. In these encounters it is the album that chooses the custodian, falling into their laps at just the right moment. From these people we hear heartbreaking, touching and emotional personal stories. These photographs hold dreams yet to be fulfilled, memories of distant or departed friends, mirrored lives or family members they wish they had known, days past and undetermined futures. These “fated” custodians shed new light on what we are giving people, on what these albums might represent to their new custodians and what they might have meant to their original owners.

Album 127: "This album looks just like all of the albums I used to look at of my parents when they were growing up."

This is the magic of the FotoBug. As the conversations build on Facebook, discoveries are being made, histories mapped out, original album owners are being found, the magic continues. It has been an incredible journey, and I am lucky that I was able to be a part of it.

Album 140: "It was all beat up, and alone at the bottom."

June #ArtHour: Join the AGO and the COC for a chat about cross-disciplinary collaboration

June 6th, 2012

On Thursday, June 14, from 11 a.m. to noon the AGO is teaming up with the Canadian Opera Company and co-hosting an hour-long online discussion about cross-disciplinary collaboration . We hope you’ll take part!

Jane Archibald as Semele (foreground) and William Burden as Jupiter (background) in the Canadian Opera Company production of Semele, 2012. Photo: Michael Cooper, courtesy of the Canadian Opera Company.

This spring, artist Zhang Huan — who has worked primarily in the visual arts — came to Toronto for the launch of three projects: the unveiling of his large sculpture Rising, in front of Shangri-La Toronto; the North American premiere of his production of Semele by the COC; and an exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Ash Paintings and Memory Doors. His foray into the opera world with Semele is a prime example of the cross-disciplinary collaboration that tweeters will discuss during this #ArtHour. Have other good examples to share? Leave a comment below and add it to the conversation on June 13.

During #ArtHour, we will ask six questions related to the topic, with the aim of generating a great discussion with you and other art-loving tweeters:

Q1 Which art forms are most likely to benefit from involvement by people outside the discipline? The least likely?
Q2 Is there any kind of artistic expertise that does not translate to other mediums?
Q3 Can you think of a cross-disciplinary collaboration that you thought worked particularly well?
Q4 What is the biggest challenge facing artists collaborating with people in other disciplines?
Q5 Does above-average ability in one discipline make someone more likely to succeed in any creative endeavour?
Q6 Do you think critics are kinder to artists working outside their usual discipline or harsher?

The person who contributes the most to the conversation will win a pair of tickets for general admission to the Art Gallery of Ontario and another pair to see an upcoming Canadian Opera Company production.

Nice To Tweet You


What #ArtHour 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, June 14, 11:00 a.m. – noon EDT (takes place the second Thursday of every month).
Where On Twitter. Follow @agotoronto and @canadianopera for more information, or search for the hashtag #ArtHour. You can follow along using Tweetchat by using the #ArtHour hashtag.
Who #ArtHour is for everyone: galleries and museums, arts professionals, artists and anyone interested in learning more and meeting other passionate art fans.
How Starting at 11 a.m. @agotoronto and @canadianopera will be tweeting a question every 10 minutes using the hashtag #ArtHour. Anyone can respond, also using #ArtHour. For example, we would tweet Q1 What is your favourite painting? #ArtHour, and you could tweet back A1 The West Wind by Tom Thomson! #ArtHour.

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

A closer look: Piece of Beef by Chaïm Soutine

June 5th, 2012

Chaïm Soutine, Piece of Beef (1923), oil on canvas. On loan from Shefner/Braun Family.

Here’s a work of art you can really sink your teeth into.

Piece of Beef, one of our collection’s European Highlights, is a modern work infused with the style of the old masters who inspired it. After studying Rembrandt’s great painting Side of Beef in the Louvre, Chaïm Soutine worked directly from carcasses he bought himself, creating 10 paintings of a side of beef between 1920 and 1929. This work is the most expressive and abstract of the series, and we’re pleased to have it on loan from the Shefner/Braun family.

It’s not every day you see a piece of meat that’s raw, rare and well done all at the same time.

Signing on

June 1st, 2012

To keep Art Matters readers up to speed with the faces behind the blog, I’d like to introduce myself, the writer of many posts to come (and the Gallery’s new Internet and Social Media Content Coordinator).

My name is Meg Campbell, and I’m coming to this role from work in communications — and before that in journalism, and before that an education in the visual arts — I’m supremely excited to share the AGO’s stories with you on Art Matters and through Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, this blog and all of our other current and future digital avenues.

I and the entire team wish all the best to Holly Knowlman, our former in-house social media and blogging superstar, who has moved on to other adventures, and to Amanda Lynne Ballard, who temporarily took the helm after Holly’s departure.

As before, we want to hear what you think and I’m definitely ready to start some great conversations about art, so don’t be a stranger — keep sharing your thoughts!