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Archive: March, 2016

Mark Lewis: Canada

March 29th, 2016


Study for « Canada » films, photo: Mark Lewis, courtesy of the artist

The AGO is pleased to announce Mark Lewis: Canada.

Curated by the AGO’s former Chief Curator Stephanie Smith with Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, Canada is an anthology of connected films by Mark Lewis. The installation of these films explore the name “Canada” and how it has come to be associated, both within our country and throughout the world, with fantasies, stories and imaginary histories. The project will come to fruition in the summer of 2017.

Mark Lewis, born in Canada and based in London, is among the most prominent artists of his generation working in photography and moving images. Throughout his career, he has gained wide-ranging success and internationally acclaim for his short, silent films. In 2009, Lewis represented Canada at the Venice Biennale, and in 2014, he was asked by the Louvre to produce new films that would consider, in some way, the museum’s history, physicality and historical collection. His mining of the museum’s art collection, its architectural passageways and its audience, formed the basis for a new series of films that were presented in the context of a solo exhibition at the museum that same year. In the same year, also in Paris, Le Bal offered him a much acclaimed solo exhibition. Lewis continuously shows internationally, recently exhibiting in Sao Paulo, Porto, Seoul, and London. Canada will be his largest project to date, with a series of installation films culminating into a feature-length film similar to the acclaimed Inventio shown at the Toronto International Film Festival and at the Berlinale in the last year. This year, he is winner of a Governor General Award in Visual Arts and Media.

Mark Lewis: Canada is one element of a full program of AGO exhibitions and events that will mark Canada 150 in 2017. More details will be available at a later date – stay tuned!

Focus on: Magdalyn Asimakis in the Print & Drawing Study Centre

March 29th, 2016

Magdalyn Asimakis

Photo: Luis Mora

There’s a bright, public space in the gallery where you can get lost in works straight from the vault: the Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre, on level 1. This world-class print room and vault offers a unique space for accessing the our collection of works on paper and photography. We took a behind-the-scenes look with Magdalyn Asimakis, the monitor of the P&D Centre, and the curatorial assistant for 2015’s Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s The Time.



Tell us about the Centre, by the numbers (which are pretty incredible).


In a nutshell: we have 20,000 works on paper that span from the 1400s to the present day, and over 50,000 photographs. Our department’s current exhibition, Drawing, Je t’aime, features nearly 100 of our finest drawings—and those are just the tip of the iceberg.

And these are works that aren’t currently on display, so what exactly are they stored in? 

The works are stored unframed and matted in solander boxes (which sort of fold open like a clam shell) and map drawers. This is standard practice, and the benefit is it allows us to bring works out of the vault easily for viewing and study.

How can the public come see the works?

Since we opened in ’93, we now have a very active public program that is animated through staff and a dedicated group of volunteers. On Wednesdays, you can drop in the Study Centre between 1pm and 8pm for our Open Door program to see the space and a selection of works on display. And until 4pm that day, we take requests! You can actually ask to have specific works brought out from the vault. We also have free talks on the second Friday of each month at 11am, and a quarterly ticketed talk on Friday evenings called Close Encounters. And each month for First Thursday, we curate a pop-up exhibition in the Study Centre called Out of the Vaults which is very successful. Not to mention we are always hosting classes and taking private appointments.

What surprised you when you started working here?


A solander box containing Albrecht Dürer’s The Virgin with the Swaddled Child, 1520, Print, 14.5 x 9.9 cm (5 11/16 x 3 7/8 in.), Gift of Sir Edmund Walker Estate, 1926.

I was really pleased to learn that the Study Centre’s collection was so central to the everyday work we do. It’s really a hands-on environment. Most days involve going into the vault to see an object or to go through a solander box. The reasons we look at works in the Study Centre vary, whether we are bringing them out for visitors to study during Open Door on Wednesdays; for drawing classes, lectures and exhibition planning; or for examination with colleagues (scholars, curators, and conservators). The collection is really alive and nurtured daily. Opening a solander box or looking at a work up close without protective glass never gets old.

What does a normal day look like for a P&D staffer?


Most of our work takes place behind the scenes. We work closely with colleagues from other departments including collections care specialists, registrars, conservators, library staff as well as curators from other areas. At the moment, we also have a mobile photography unit stationed in our vault to expedite the digitization process of the collection. There is a lot of interest in our works on paper collection, so on any given day you can find artists, curators, scholars and, on occasion, celebrities in here looking at works.

Is there a “Prints and Drawings” moment that stands out for you?

The most interesting moments are when the space is being shared because it creates unexpected connections. One day we had a class of Fine Arts undergraduate students in the Study Centre viewing some relief prints and at the next table was artist Stephen Andrews looking at his own works with Kitty Scott, the Carol and Morton Rapp Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, in preparation for his exhibition at the AGO. As the students were finishing their class, Stephen invited them over and he talked to them them a bit about his work, much to their amazement. The study centre offers a space for curators, artists, and students to have exchanges like these.

Visitor favourites: A light-filled installation on Floor 5

March 24th, 2016

A closer look at one of the gallery’s visitor favourites, an immersive light-filled installation on Floor 5 by Paul Chan.

By Jon Davies, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art

In 2007, American artist and activist Paul Chan premiered his ambitious series of floor projections entitled The 7 Lights at the Serpentine Gallery in London. While Chan works fluidly between many different forms and platforms, this series’ title refers to its distinctive medium: video projections of coloured light and black silhouettes, or, as the artist puts it, “light and light that has been struck out.”

The series consists of haunting shadow-plays that draw their power from a sight that marked many people during the September 11, 2011 attacks on the World Trade Center: people falling from buildings. Evoking a state of seemingly perpetual crisis, bodies here fall but also float upwards, levitating alongside consumer products and junk. With its pared down visuals and powerful use of silence, The 7 Lights series vividly imagines a Rapture that is firmly rooted in everyday life, rather than something transcendent.

2nd Light (seen above) is grounded by a tree, which endures a day’s unfolding from sunrise to sunset before looping and starting over again. We are delighted to have recently acquired this key work from Chan’s series, which is installed here for the first time with other recent contemporary acquisitions in Many things brought from one climate to another, currently on display on level 5.

Twitter’s #MuseumWeek (March 28–April 3) lands at the AGO

March 21st, 2016

7 days, 7 themes, 7 hashtags

From March 28–April 3, we’re inviting you to join us and more than 2,000 other cultural organizations on Twitter for #MuseumWeek, a global social media campaign that encourages discussion on why museums matter, how they inspire us and what we can all do to keep them vital.

Each day of #MuseumWeek 2016 focuses on a different theme: secrets, people, architecture, heritage, the future, zoom, and love. Using each day’s corresponding hashtag, museum staff members and visitors all from over the world will fill Twitter with their ideas, memories, photos and questions.

Follow us @agotoronto on  Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to stay up-to-date with our #MuseumWeek trivia and in-gallery challenges.

PLUS: Each day, our Gallery Guides’ Highlights and On The Dot tours will feature special #MuseumWeek themes and destinations.

1-Hour Highlights Tours (every one is different!): 11am, 12pm, 1pm, 2pm, 3pm every day. 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.


Have a look at the tweets above and see what museums and their visitors around the world are posting about #MuseumWeek.

By the numbers: 2016’s Art+Feminism Wiki Edit-A-Thon

March 19th, 2016

Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the Art Gallery of Ontario, March 5, 2016

Art+Feminism’s Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon is a campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia, and to encourage female editorship.

To kick off International Women’s Month, we hosted a free Edit-A-Thon on March 5 at the AGO — one of over 100 satellite venues (worldwide!) of the Art+Feminism event, which is headquartered at MoMA in New York. Numbers are still being compiled, but it looks like we were one of the largest events worldwide.

40+ attendees

17 improved existing articles

7 finished articles

4 new drafts

2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Quite apart from the numbers, what was great about the event was the energy of collaborating on this project. You’d think that editing Wikipedia would be a pretty dry activity, but as a combined effort it can be surprisingly social and empowering.

—Amy Furness, Edit-A-Thon organizer and the AGO’s Rosamond Ivey Special Collections Archivist, Library & Archives

Lots of collaborators shared their experience during the day using the hashtags #AGOedits #AGOToronto #ArtAndFeminism:

A huge thank-you to all of our enthusiastic editors! And stay tuned: our next Wikipedia Wednesday is set for May 4, 2016.

Click here to read more about our Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon initiative.


The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre: Re-opening Summer 2016

March 16th, 2016

Henry Moore supervising the installation of the Henry Moore Gallery, 1974

Henry Moore supervising the installation of the Henry Moore Gallery, 1974

Renovation update! Beginning next week, we’re transforming a currently unused space into a new, 1,200-square-foot gallery space next to the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre. This expanded gallery space will allow us to deepen visitor experience and will include an area that will present additional artwork by, and in dialogue with, Henry Moore’s exquisite sculptures. The space will also highlight conservation as a key facet of the AGO’s work.

 We know what you’re thinking: Will I be able to see the Henry Moore works during construction?

 In order to protect the sculptures in the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, we need to move them so that they are safe from the construction zone and construction work vibrations. This means that during the construction period both the Irina Moore Gallery East and the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre will be closed to the public. But, we expect the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre to re-open this summer, with Irina Moore Gallery East re-opening in September for the first exhibition in the new space. The Outsiders exhibition in the Irina Moore Gallery West and the African and Oceanic galleries remain open, and are not affected by this work.

The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, 1974 installation view

The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre, 1974 installation view

While the Centre is closed, we invite you to learn about the Henry Moore collection by reading about its history, watching one of our Henry Moore conservation videos, or visiting Henry Moore’s Large Two Forms, which will still be on view at the corner of Dundas and McCaul Streets. Additionally, over the coming months, we will be providing updates on about the progress of the renovation through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Stay tuned for more Moore news!


The Outsiders Playlist: Curatorial Jams

March 9th, 2016

This playlist was inspired by the AGO’s exhibition Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s, opening March 12, and compiled by Outsiders co-curator Jim Shedden. Featuring more than 300 works by Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Danny Lyon, Gordon Parks, Garry Winogrand and Kenneth Anger, Outsiders presents unforgettable portraits of American life from some of the most politically turbulent and greatest musical decades in the country’s history. The songs below capture the spirit of each of the artists featured. Plug into the playlist during your visit, or enjoy at home. Repeat plays encouraged.

These are songs that were suggested to me by the artworks in Outsiders. They aren’t meant to comprise a literal soundtrack to the exhibition. They aren’t always historically in synch with the work, nor are they songs that I think the artists knew or approved of. They’re just songs that came to me when I thought about the works in the show.

—Jim Shedden



Read the rest of this entry »

Take the challenge: Can you name five women artists?

March 4th, 2016

Can You Name 5WomenArtists without banner_cropped

Take a moment, and think of five artists off the top of your head. If the list was entirely (or mostly) male, there’s a Women’s History Month‬ social media campaign hoping to change that.

All throughout March, the National Women’s Museum of Art is calling on other arts institutions to help push women artists, both living and past, to the fore with the hashtag ‪#‎5WomenArtists‬. The hashtag was inspired by the fact that, as easy as it sounds, many people have trouble naming just five women artists.

Through #‎5WomenArtists, the Women’s Museum hopes to help the public answer the question — without hesitation — ‘Can you name five women artists?’ by calling attention to the inequity women artists face today, as well as in the past, we hope to inspire conversation and awareness. We are excited to invite other art museums to join us in this initiative.

—NMWA Director Susan Fisher Sterling

In addition to LACMA, the Guggenheim, MFA Boston, and Museum of Modern Art, New York, we’ll be joining the digital call to arms and celebrating the gifted women artists—past and present—in our collection and on display.

Ready to take another run at the #5WomenArtists challenge? If you are, make sure to share (and tag us) on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter @agotoronto.


2016 Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon at the AGO

March 1st, 2016

by Amy Furness, Edit-A-Thon organizer and the AGO’s Rosamond Ivey Special Collections Archivist, Library & Archives


Art+Feminism’s Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon is a campaign to improve coverage of women and the arts on Wikipedia, and to encourage female editorship.

Since last year’s Art+Feminism Wikipedia Edit-A-Thon, there’s been great energy and momentum in Toronto for keeping this project going.  We’ve been holding Wikipedia Wednesday evenings every few months in the AGO’s Library & Archives, teaching editing skills and building Wikipedia content on women artists. So it’s exciting now to be planning for the next big international event.  To kick off International Women’s Month, we’re hosting a free Edit-A-Thon on March 5 at the AGO — one of over 100 satellite venues (worldwide!) of the Art+Feminism event, which is headquartered at MoMA in New York.

Toronto-based abstract artist Andrea Bolley, currently one of many women artists without a Wikipedia page.

Toronto-based abstract artist Andrea Bolley, currently one of many women artists without a Wikipedia page.

The reason for this edition of the Edit-A-Thon is just as compelling as when we started: only an estimated 10% of Wikipedia editors identify as female, an imbalance which skews the content of this prevalent information resource. Add to this situation the gender politics of the visual arts, and the result is there are all too many women artists on whom very little information can easily be found.  The Art+Feminism project is helping to change that by encouraging female editors and supporting the creation of new Wikipedia content to fill the gaps.

In the social setting of an Edit-A-Thon, editing Wikipedia can be surprisingly empowering, and even fun.  It’s a great way to celebrate International Women’s Month, and International Women’s Day (March 8). Consider joining us, or just come to show your support!

(And don’t forget: Bring a laptop!)

RSVP by March 4.

Art+Feminism Wikipedia-Edit-A-Thon
Saturday, March 5, 2016
12pm – 4pm
Tutorials at 12:30 and 2pm
Education Commons, AGO

Share your thoughts on social using the hashtags: #AGOedits #AGOToronto #ArtAndFeminism