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10 reasons to be excited about 2019

January 2nd, 2019

Mother holding a child while confetti falls around them.

Image by the AGO.

We’re buzzing with anticipation about all the amazing artful experiences we’ve got lined up this year at the AGO. Check out our top 10 things to look forward to in 2019:

1. Impressionism in a whole new light

A painting of a factory with three smokestacks sits next to a flowing river.

Camille Pissarro. Factory Near Pontoise [Usine Près Pointoise], 1873. Oil on canvas, Unframed: 45.7 × 54.6 cm. Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts/ The James Philip Gray Collection. Photo: David Stansbury

All aboard! We’re taking a journey to late 19th century Paris and beyond on trains, over bridges, near factories and shops to see how Impressionists captured their changing world. Opening on February 16 our groundbreaking exhibition Impressionism in the Age of Industry: Monet, Pissarro and more includes more than 120 works by artists Claude Monet, Edgar Degas, Camille Pissarro, Mary Cassat, James Tissot and more. We can’t wait to see these paintings, photographs, sculptures and period films.

2. The powerful art of Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires

a canvas showing several faces superimposed on each other with metallic lines overlaid

Mickalene Thomas. Diahann Carroll #2, 2018. Silkscreen ink on acrylic on mirrored mounted on wood panel, 182.9 x 152.4 x5.1 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia, Paris/Brussels. © Mickalene Thomas / SOCAN (2018).

Filling Level 5 of the AGO’s Vivian & David Campbell Centre for Contemporary Art, this dynamic exhibition presents vibrant collage paintings, video installations, photography and living room tableaux. On now until March 24 Mickalene Thomas: Femmes Noires showcases vivid portraits of celebrities, friends, former lovers, figures from art history and the artist while sparking urgent questions about race and how Black women’s bodies are represented in art and pop culture. Complementing the exhibition, we’ve got an amazing line-up of programming all winter, with author talks (don’t miss Esi Edugyan and Angie Thomas), film screenings and performances, including a Vogue Ball.

3. Spotlight on Brian Jungen

Sculpture made of Air Jordan sneakers resembling feathers

Brian Jungen, Warrior 1, 2017. Nike Air Jordans, leather, 99.06 x 81.28 x 73.66 c.m. Courtesy the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. © Brian Jungen. Photo by Jason Wyche

Internationally renowned for his mesmerizing sculptures and installations made from repurposed consumer goods, including Nike sneakers and golf bags, we can’t wait to welcome artist Brian Jungen back to the AGO this summer, with a solo exhibition in the Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavilion. Featuring more than 80 works including headdresses and masks and an epic film installation, the exhibition will also include the first public presentation of the artist’s archive – materials that inspire his work – organized in 200 shoeboxes. You may never look at shoeboxes the same way again!

4. A once-in-a-lifetime exhibition on Early Rubens

Painting of several warriors massacring infants and their mothers.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents, c. 1610. Oil on panel, Panel: 142 × 183 × 1.9 cm, Framed: 170.2 × 213.4 × 21.6 cm. The Thomson Collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario. © 2018 Art Gallery of Ontario 2014/1581

Coming to the AGO in October 2019, Early Rubens is an incredible presentation of 50 daring works by artist Peter Paul Rubens, an artist widely recognized for his dynamic, even cinematic, style. Featuring loans from museums across North America and Europe, including works never before shown in Canada, the exhibition focuses on the pivotal years (1609 – 1621) following Rubens’s return to his hometown of Antwerp, Belgium after studying in Italy. Highlights include Daniel and the Lion’s Den, a vast oil painting featuring 10 near-to-life-size lions, and the return of The Massacre of the Innocents, a jewel in the AGO Collection.

5. Celmins and Steyerl

Installation image of a large single channel projection set in front of a wave sculpture, back lit in blue

Hito Steyerl, Liquidity Inc., 2014, HD video file, single channel in architectural environment. 30 minutes. Installation view from Artists Space, New York, 2015 Image courtesy of the Artist and Andrew Kreps Gallery, New York. Photography by Matthew Se

2019 will bring exciting solo exhibitions from internationally acclaimed contemporary artists, Vija Celmins and Hito Steyerl. In May we welcome Latvian-born, American-based artist Vija Celmins, known for her meticulous portrayals of the natural world. Her paintings, sculptures, drawings and prints will make you wonder if you’re looking at the real thing. Later in the year, Hito Steyerl returns to the AGO for her first Canadian retrospective, featuring large-scale film installations, including Liquidity Inc. from 2014.

6. Feel forever

A room with mirrored walls with steel balls sitting on the floor.

Yayoi Kusama, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, © YAYOI KUSAMA Courtesy David Zwirner, New York; Ota Fine Arts, Tokyo/Singapore/Shanghai; Victoria Miro, London/Venice. Photograph courtesy Maris Hutchinson / EPW Studio

It’s coming! Thanks to over 4,700 #InfinityAGO donors and the David Yuile & Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, internationally acclaimed artist Yayoi Kusama’s incredible artwork, INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, is coming to the AGO this spring…forever. From first-time donors to long-time supporters, so many people supported our crowdfunding campaign to add an Infinity Mirror Room to the AGO Collection so that art fans today and in future generations can experience the immersive world of Kusama. Stay tuned for details on when the artwork arrives.

7. New year, new learning

Person working on a painting

Image by the AGO

The start of a new year is the perfect time to learn something new. Whether you’ve never made art before or you’d like to refine your skills, we’ve got something for everyone. Join us at the Anne Tanenbaum Gallery School for a variety of amazing courses, guaranteed to get your creative juices going in 2019. Try your hand at drawing and painting, or sculpture; and if you can’t decide, try out a little bit of everything.

8. Artful fun for the young (and young at heart)

Children playing on a jungle gym

Image by the AGO

Art fans between the ages of 14 and 25 can create, learn or dance in our FREE After Three workshops. For pint-size Picassos, we’ve got Family Sundays where little ones and their caregivers can draw, paint and more. And don’t forget to visit the Dr. Mariano Elia Hands-On Centre or our roving Art Carts for more art-making fun! Join us for an all-day collage party on Family Day and stay tuned for our art-filled line-up of March Break activities.

9. Cure the winter blahs with delicious drinks and food

A wooden plate of food is presented to a person.

Image by the AGO

Looking for somewhere to escape the cold weather this season? We’ve got you covered. After visiting the AGO’s stunning art exhibitions, keep the fun going with a memorable art-inspired meal or cocktail at AGO Bistro. Our incredible chef has scrumptious menu items year-round to complement our exhibitions. In need of a little retail therapy? Visit shopAGO for art prints, art books, jewellery, home décor and so much more.

10. Culture in the city

Image of a piece of art

Shuvinai Ashoona, Composition (Attack of the Tentacle Monsters), 2015. Courtesy the artist and Mary Daley Desmarais and Paul Desmarais III. Photo: Feheley Fine Arts

It’s going to be a sensational year for arts and culture in Toronto. We’re excited to see the unique pencil crayon and ink drawings by artist Shuvinai Ashoona opening at the Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery on January 26. We can’t wait for internationally renowned artist and human rights activist Ai Weiwei’s exhibition this February at the Gardiner Museum. And we’re excited to discover never-before-seen masterpieces in Treasures of a Desert Kingdom at the Royal Ontario Museum this March.

Excited? Us too! Stay tuned for even more artful fun coming this year.

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