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Archive: December, 2012

Conservation Notes: A deep look at Floor Burger‘s surface

December 24th, 2012

Incident light image of a cross-section from the meat patty, showing a white preparation and four layers of paint.
© Canadian Conservation Institute, 2012

In recent Art Matters posts, we’ve shared why we are undertaking conservation work on Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger (1962), the intriguing story of what happened when the sculpture arrived at the Gallery in 1967 and, most recently, what discoveries AGO conservator Sherry Phillips has made about Floor Burger, inside and out, during her work on the piece.

Sherry gathered a few 1 to 2 mm paint samples from various parts of Floor Burger — the bottom bun, the meat patty, the top bun and the pickle — and then mailed them to the Canadian Conservation Institute. There, Elizabeth Moffat and Jennifer Poulin of CCI’s Conservation Science Division conducted various types of analysis to determine the paint and pigment chemistry and produced cross-section images, include the one you see above.

The goal of the analysis was to learn about the materials and techniques that Claes Oldenburg used to create Floor Burger. Elizabeth and Jennifer used light and fluorescence microscopy of the cross-sections to document the paint-layer structure. In some areas sampled, they discovered as many as eight paint layers, and they were also able to identify the pigments and binding media of the various paints using a combination of analytical techniques. The image above reveals (from top to bottom) a layer of red paint, then orange paint, another two layers of red and a white preparatory layer.

Visitors have been able observe conservators at work in the Irena Moore Gallery (2nd level) Tuesday to Friday, 10:30 am–noon and 1:30–4 pm. Over the holidays, staff will be present on Dec. 26, 27, 28, and Jan. 3 and 4, 2013.

Curious about Conservation?
If you have a burning question about Conservation, leave a comment below. We’ll do our best to give you an answer in an upcoming Conservation Notes post.

Signature Partner of the AGO’s Conservation Program

Enter the shopAGO Wish List Contest on Pinterest

December 7th, 2012

What is your shopAGO Holiday Wish List? Get pinning and let us know!

How to Enter the shopAGO Holiday Wish List Contest

1. Follow the Art Gallery of Ontario’s boards on Pinterest.
2. With your Pinterest account, create a new board called “shopAGO Holiday Wish List Board.” The board must include products from the shopAGO Gift Guide only.
3. Pin at least five of your favourite shopAGO gifts from our shopAGO 2012 Gift Guide board or browse the 2012 shopAGO Holiday Gift Guide online and pin from there.
4. Email the URL link of your shopAGO Holiday Wish List Board to for a chance to win one of three $200 shopAGO shopping spree gift cards.

All entries must be received between 12/6/12 and 12/17/12.
NO Purchase Necessary. Open to all residents of Canada (excluding Quebec) ages 18 years and older. Ends: 11:59 pm (est) 11/17/12. For complete details, see the Official Rules below. Read the rest of this entry »

December #ArtHour: Join us and curator Dot Tuer for a Frida & Diego Twitter chat

December 6th, 2012

On Thursday, Dec. 13, from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., we’re teaming up with Dot Tuer, guest curator of Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting for an hour-long online discussion about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera and their work. We hope you’ll take part!

Our visitors have a lot to say about Frida & Diego since its opening on Oct. 20, 2012; they tell us on comment cards, they talk to our staff and they post their thoughts on our Facebook page and on Twitter. We want to hear from you! On Thursday, Dec. 13, we’re inviting everyone who has something to say about Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera — their lives, their work and how it moves us — to join us on Twitter for a discussion with Dot Tuer, OCAD University professor, cultural historian and guest curator of Frida & Diego at the AGO.

We hope you’ll add your thoughts to a discussion centred on the following questions:

Q1 What tells us more about Frida and Diego’s lives together — photos of them or their art?
Q2 Is politics as important for art now as it was in Frida and Diego’s time?
Q3 What is the main reason for Frida’s popularity today?
Q4 Besides the current exhibition, what are the best sources of info on Frida and Diego?
Q5 Who are your favourite artist couples besides Frida and Diego?
Q6 Who is the better painter — Frida or Diego? Why?

The person who contributes the most to this month’s #ArtHour will win a pair of passes to Frida & Diego (before Dec. 23, 2012), as well as a copy of the book Frida & Diego: Passion, Politics and Painting, edited by Dot Tuer and Elliott King.

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, Dec. 13, 2 p.m. – 3 p.m. EST (takes place the second Thursday of every month).
Where On Twitter. Follow @agotoronto for questions and answers from Dot Tuer, 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 2 p.m. @agotoronto 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 our December #ArtHour. For more information, please email

Anatomy of an ofrenda

December 5th, 2012

Click on a number here to skip to an element: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Chloe Sayer, a U.K. writer who specializes in Mexican art and culture, interviewed Carlomagno Pedro Martínez about the ofrenda he created in honour of Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera at the AGO in October 2012, and Carlomagno outlined the ofrenda’s various elements and their meanings. In this post, we present his detailed descriptions, illustrated with photos of the ofrenda taken in late November. Read the rest of this entry »

Catching up with Jo Longhurst, winner of The Grange Prize 2012

December 3rd, 2012

Jo Longhurst (foreground) preparing to shoot at Gemini Gymnastics, Oshawa, Ont.

Only a few days after learning she had won The Grange Prize 2012, Jo Longhurst began her six-week residency at the Art Gallery of Ontario, occupying the Anne Lind Artist-in-Residence Studio in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre. Over the three weeks since the winner announcement, Jo has been working to develop new ideas and create new works.

During her residency, Jo will build upon her series Other Spaces, which is an examination of the notion of perfection framed through the physical and emotional experiences of elite gymnasts. She has been working closely with Gemini Gymnastics in Oshawa, owned by Elena Davydova, the 1980 Olympic all-around gold medallist, representing the former Soviet Union, and one of the coaches of the Canadian Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Team at the 2012 London Olympics. Jo’s new work will explore examples of the gender divide inherent in the world of gymnastics, such as particular moves that female gymnasts can’t use in competitions like Iron Cross on the rings. (Jo has photographed a female gymnast holding this pose.) She is developing two specific works with Davydova and the club’s elite squad.

Jo accepts The Grange Prize on Nov. 1, 2012.

Jo has been contemplating what direction her work might take beyond her residency: “I continue to revisit my archive of images from the World Championships and have begun to look at them from a more abstract perspective,” Jo says about her future work. “The new work will be visually different but follows the same line of inquiry into the ideas of perfection, photograph, and the ways in which we makes sense of our place in the universe.”

Jo says that her win was a complete surprise — but a gratifying one. “The win was touching because it was a public vote,” Jo says. “I want my work to be critical, yet accessible to everyone.” When it comes to photography, Jo admits that although her work is primarily lens-based, she feels that medium-specific categories can sometimes be frustrating, and she hopes that “the categorization doesn’t limit people’s exposure to art.”

In addition to the artist residency, Jo received a $50,000 cash prize. The three other finalists each received cash honorariums of $5,000 and international artist residencies. British artist Jason Evans will travel to Toronto next spring to begin his residency at the AGO, and Canadian artists Emmanuelle Léonard and Annie MacDonell will travel to the U.K. next year.

The winner of The Grange Prize 2011, Indian photographer Gauri Gill, spent 3 weeks at the AGO in September of last year, researching and creating new work.

Read more about Jo’s work and see images of works from her Other Spaces series here. Her residency continues until December 14, 2012.

Jo will be in conversation with Sophie Hackett, assistant curator of photography at the AGO and lead juror of The Grange Prize 2012, at 7:30 p.m. on Dec. 6, 2012, at the AGO, as part of the next installment of the AGO’s 1st Thursdays.