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Art Gallery of Ontario

Master Plans: Michelangelo’s Drawings at the AGO

Michelangelo's Plan for the “Pichola Libreria” of the Laurentian Library, 1525-1526, Casa Buonarroti. Photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Michelangelo’s Plan for the “Pichola Libreria” of the Laurentian Library, 1525-1526, Casa Buonarroti. Photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario.

TO JANUARY 11  Visitors flood into the Vatican’s Sistine Chapel daily to gaze in awe at the magnificent ceiling painted by Michelangelo. How did the celebrated painter, sculptor, architect and engineer bring his masterpieces to life? “Michelangelo: Quest for Genius” at the Art Gallery of Ontario offers insight into the Renaissance artist’s creative process through 28 drawings, once part of his personal collection and now on loan from Casa Buonarroti in Florence. Comprised of preliminary architectural and figural sketches and highly finished presentation drawings, these images collectively examine the concept of “genius at work,” revealing Michelangelo’s ideas, ambitions and even his frustrations. Some of his grander, unfinished plans are brought to life at the AGO with computer animation. The master’s important influence on Auguste Rodin is also explored, with 10 of the French sculptor’s works on display, including his ill-received final commission, Balzac. —Cara Smusiak

Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648
Map and reviews

Contact Photography Festival Daily Pick: Arnold Newman

Where Toronto brings you a new image for each day of the 2013 Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival, which runs throughout May with exhibitions at more than 175 venues across the city.

Today’s top Contact Photography Festival pick:

© Arnold Newman Properties/Getty Images

© Arnold Newman Properties/Getty Images

Photo: Henry Moore, Much Hadham, England, 1966-72
Artist: Arnold Newman
Exhibition: From May 2 to October 20, the Art Gallery of Ontario highlights its photographic collection—which began with the 1977 purchase of Newman’s collage portrait shown above—with an exhibition entitled “Light My Fire: Some Propositions about Portraits and Photography.” As its title suggests, the show considers a number of philosophical and artistic propositions about image making, and features more than 200 works by such photographers as Edward Steichen, Richard Avedon, Liz Magor and many others.

Check back daily for more Contact Photography Festival coverage, and visit scotiabankcontactphoto.com for more information about this exhibition!

The AGO Stages a Patti Smith Show

Patti Smith AGO

Patti Smith’s Scripture, Glasgow Cathedral is one of many of the artist’s intimate images at the AGO (photo: Robert Miller Gallery)

FEBRUARY 9 TO MAY 19  If modern culture has a renaissance woman, it’s probably Patti Smith. Over a four-decade career, the American musician, poet, artist, author and activist has crafted an acclaimed body of work and influenced countless peers and disciples. Smith has played Toronto concert stages large and small; the Art Gallery of Ontario, however, is a new venue. In an exhibition titled Camera Solo, the museum presents Smith’s photographs for the first time in Canada. Featuring around 70 images shot with a vintage Polaroid and juxtaposed with her personal effects—as well as a Smith-directed film—the display is an intimate portrait of an artist who’s found success following her own muse.  —Craig Moy

>> Art Gallery of Ontario, 317 Dundas St. W., 416-979-6648; ago.net
>> Map and reviews


Where Loves: the AGO’s 1st Thursdays and Toronto’s Emerging Art Parties


AGO 1st Thursdays

Art gallery or party space? The AGO becomes both on the first Thursday of each month (photo courtesy of the Art Gallery of Ontario)

Picture an art gallery: paintings in gilded frames, a sculpture or two sitting on pedestals, a couple strolling slowly from piece to piece, footfalls echoing off the hardwood. How long has that stereotype endured? How long has it been utterly inaccurate?

Instead, you ought to imagine perusing masterpieces with your friends, cocktails in hand. You ought to see yourself dancing the night away while surrounded all manner of art and art lovers. At least, that’s the scene at the Art Gallery of Ontario. On the first Thursday of every month, the venerable institution transforms to host an evening soiree of the highest order, bringing together young Toronto trendsetters with food, drinks, live music, dancing and art-making experiences. Running since last October, the events have proven so popular that tickets regularly sell out well in advance. This month’s edition is already full, but admission for March goes on sale February 8. (more…)

Where Loves: Peruvian Art and Artifacts at the University of Toronto


Peruvian Art Toronto

Richard Mamani and Hugo Champi’s 2002 sculpture, Madre Spondylus, gleams alongside more than 100 other silver artworks and artifacts at the UTAC’s Silver of Peru exhibition

Can silver imbue objects with a soul, with a life all their own? The ancient peoples of Peru believed it could. It’s hard not to share that belief when faced with the dazzling artifacts collected in Luminescence: the Silver of Peru, on now until March 9 at the University of Toronto Art Centre.

Curated by Anthony Shelton, director of the UBC’s Museum of Anthropology, the exhibition spans 2,000 years of Peruvian art and culture through the likes of pre-Columbian crowns, jewels and tunics, plus paintings and sculptures from the 16th century to today. All told, it’s the largest collection of silver relics currently residing in Canada. Most of the assembled artifacts have never before left Peru.


Hot Art: The AGO Welcomes Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Frida Kahlo’s Self-Portrait as a Tehuana (Diego on My Mind) (image © Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust/Artists Rights Society)

OCTOBER 20 TO JANUARY 20  Experience the vibrant yet highly intimate artistry of two of Mexico’s most celebrated 20th-century painters as the Art Gallery of Ontario presents a major showcase of works by Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Kahlo’s highly autobiographical works exemplify her dedication to indigenous tradition, her controversial political leanings, and her volatile relationship with her husband Rivera, himself a prominent activist and founding figure of the Mexican school of painting. Among the 75 key pieces on display are Kahlo’s Self-Portrait with Monkeys and Rivera’s Flower Festival: Feast of Santa Anita—Eva Voinigescu

You Are Here: Dundas & Spadina

By Ana Taveira

Courage My Love

The downtown section of Dundas Street West traverses Chinatown, Kensington Market and more.

AFFORDABLE FLAIR   Kensington Market institution Courage My Love is positively packed with kitschy finds from far off lands. Established in 1975, the venerable vintage boutique offers up all manner of one-of-a-kind items, including jewellery, sunglasses, gloves and inexpensive yet still highly fashionable apparel. Exotic beads, buttons and other items are popular amongst do-it-yourselfers, while a selection of retro home accessories rounds out the stock.

HOT DISCOVERY   A good thing is not always easy to find. At least, that seems to be the idea behind Cold Tea. Tucked down a hallway in a small, nondescript shopping concourse in the Kensington Market ‘hood, this hip watering hole might not be one of the city’s most accessible, but once you’ve found your way there, a good time is practically guaranteed—thanks to exciting Asian-inspired cocktails, dim sum nibbles and an inviting back patio with communal tables.

Ten Ren Tea

STEEP SHOP   This city’s location of Chinese tea chain Ten Ren Tea is a popular destination for picking up sachets and loose-leaf tins of high-quality oolong, jasmine, pu-erh and herbal teas, among many other varieties. If you’re on the run but still in need of a beverage, the shop is happy to oblige with take-away bubble tea and other tea-based specialty drinks.

FEAST YOUR EYES   In a sprawling yet still intimate building by top architect Frank Gehry, the Art Gallery of Ontario is downtown Toronto’s creative heart and one of the leading cultural institutions in North America. Here you’ll find thousands of works surveying the evolution of art over the past two millennia, from ancient Indigenous carvings to Renaissance masterworks to modern Canadian pieces. In-house restaurant Frank is a great meeting place before or after you explore the gallery.


CHEAP EATS   It may not be particularly pretty, but Swatow keeps Chinatown diners satisfied by doling out big portions of noodles, fried rice, sizzling meats and more for a very reasonable price. Open late and boasting speedy service, the bustling restaurant is renowned as a go-to spot for area chefs—Susur Lee is a longtime patron—who want to refuel after a night on the line.

ABSTRACT FOR ALL   The subtle beauty of minimalist art is highlighted at Lausberg Contemporary. Ensconced within a block of converted Victorian homes directly across from the AGO, gallerist Bernd Lausberg’s Toronto outpost (he also has locations in Düsseldorf and Miami) features a colourful array of works by such artists as Dieter Balzar, Harald Schmitz-Schmelzer and Douglas Allsop.

Weekend Roundup: September 21 to 23

Friday: Tom Cochrane is one of many performers rocking the Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival.

Friday, September 21st
Celebrate this country’s cultural icons as part of the annual Canada’s Walk of Fame Festival, which showcases popular Canadian performers at venues throughout the city, including a number of free concerts at Nathan Phillips Square. Dance the night away to Suzie McNeil, Tom Cochrane and Jann Arden, just some of the homegrown talent that will be gracing the stage.

Canadian sculptor Evan Penny’s new exhibition of meticulously rendered yet distorted human sculptures opened this week at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Titled Re Figured, the display will alter your perspective of the human form with 30 pieces, including sculptures, photographs and a film about Penny’s work over the past decade.

Toronto’s famed jazz venue, The Rex, holds its annual tribute to John Coltrane this weekend. Juno-winning saxophone players Pat LaBarbera and Kirk MacDonald—alongside the rest of their highly capable quintet—take the stage tonight to honour the celebrated musician. (more…)

Weekend Roundup: July 20 to 22

Friday: Speed-the-Plow satirizes the movie industry (photo by Cylla von Tiedemann)

Friday, July 20
Expect cracking dialogue and fierce satire this evening as Soulpepper Theatre Company performs David Mamet’s Speed-The-Plow. The play examines the lives of two American film producers while dissecting the relationship between art and commerce.

The Toronto Summer Music Festival returned earlier in the week and brought with it a full slate of concerts, master classes and lectures for classical music lovers. Tonight, the acclaimed Borodin Quartet presents Music of Russia, a program of string quartets by Russian composers, including Borodin, Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky.

Once again the Harbourfront Centre becomes of a cultural smorgasbord of music, dance, international fare and more as the Hot & Spicy Food Festival occupies the downtown waterfront. The festival kicks it up a notch with exciting competitions like tonight’s Taco Takedown—where you decide which taco reigns supreme—and the annual Iron Chef competition, held over the weekend and concluding Sunday afternoon. (more…)

Hot Art: Visuals, Easily Viewed

Henry Moore's Two Forms sits prominently outside the Art Gallery of Ontario

Toronto’s vibrant visual art scene means that galleries are sprinkled throughout the city. But you need not buy a ticket to view some very high-quality works. Public sculptures and installations decorate many of our parks and street corners, and are equally worth your interest. Often designed by acclaimed  artists—such as Henry Moore, whose sculptures can be found in front of City Hall (100 Queen St. W.) and the Art Gallery of Ontario—these works add flair to the streetscape and can even remind us of our history, as the circa-1870 Canadian Volunteers War Memorial in Queen’s Park does. Whether you guide yourself on a full-fledged Toronto art tour or just happen to come across an installation, take a minute to strike a pose, snap a photo and take a memory of Toronto’s urban landscape home with you. For further details, click here.

Weekend Roundup: May 4-6

Friday: Kurt Browning and friends skate into the Air Canada Centre

Friday, May 3
Prepare for a night of great music, stunning choreography and superstar skaters as Stars on Ice comes to the Air Canada Centre. Directed by four-time world champion Kurt Browning, this year’s extravaganza of fancy footwork shines the spotlight on such big names as Olympic medalists Joannie Rochette and ice-dance duo Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir.

Loosen up your laughing muscles for one of the most acclaimed comedians of the 20th century, as Jerry Seinfeld takes the stage at the Sony Centre as part of his Just for Laughs tour. The tour has proven so popular that the sitcom star and observational humorist is playing four shows over a two-night stint.

Experience works by Spanish artist Pablo Picasso—from his enormous personal collection—at the Art Gallery of Ontario. The multi-disciplined master sold hundreds of paintings in his lifetime, but kept thousands more for himself; nearly 150 of these drawings, paintings and sculptures are on display now. (more…)

Prolific, Polychromatic Picasso at the AGO

Among Picasso's sombre blue-period worksis the haunting La Célestine (La Femme à la taie), painted in 1904 (© Picasso Estate/SODRAC, 2011)

MAY 1 TO AUGUST 26 Quick! Name the world’s greatest collector of artwork by Pablo Picasso. Was it Gertrude Stein, the American expat who became one of Picasso’s early champions in Paris? How about Heinz Berggruen, the German-born gallerist who befriended the artist in 1949 and would go on to purchase more than 130 of his paintings? Or perhaps the title has now passed to some art-minded billionaire?

It turns out that none of these collectors can hold a candle to Picasso himself. Ridiculously productive, he sold hundreds of works yet kept thousands more—everything from informal sketches to some of his greatest masterpieces. Now, nearly 150 of these paintings, drawings and sculptures are on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario, underlining the protean breadth of Picasso’s creative genius.

Drawn from the Musée National Picasso, Paris, the unique exhibition of “Picasso’s Picassos” comprises exemplary visuals from every stage of the Spanish-born artist’s seven-decade career, including his blue, rose and African-influenced periods, his groundbreaking foray into cubism, and those points at which he expanded the possibilities of expressionism, neoclassicism and surrealism. Among the highlights: The Death of Casagemas, one of the first works painted by Picasso after his emigration to Paris (and an important example of his famed blue period); the cubist landmark Man with a Guitar; The Matador, a late self-portrait; and varied sculptural pieces that add an extra dimension to Picasso’s celebrated oeuvre.

Thematically, there’s very little that hasn’t been said about Picasso’s inspirations, techniques, even his private life and political views. An exhibition of this nature need not get too analytical. Instead, the AGO treats its visitors to a straightforward yet still colourful showcase: a survey of many of the early 20th century’s major artistic developments, as depicted (and, in some cases, created) by one hugely talented man.

—Craig Moy