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Thread: Art Gallery of Ontario

  1. #1
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    Art Gallery of Ontario

    I have a City of Toronto Museum and Arts Pass for this year, and I spent today (10am-1pm) at the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of North America's leading art museums.
    From the write-up:
    Opened to the public on Nov. 14, 2008, it was designed by the internationally celebrated architect Frank Gehry and proudly displays 34,000 works of art from around the world in breathtaking galleries.

    I was overjoyed to discover a painter who I'd never heard of and marvelled at his original works, with astounding colors and attention to detail:
    William Holman Hunt (1827-1910).
    He was a bohemian who painted startlingly modern works, with an emphasis on the psychologically intense.
    I could've stared at that guy's paintings all day.
    Just awesome artworks man.

    The galleries in the lower levels housed the greatest collection of scale model boats/ships/warships. Simply stunning miniatures (and some not so miniatures) of British, German, Japanese (and other countries) boats. The detail on these things is staggering. You know that whoever built them spent countless hours diligently putting them together.

    www.ago.net
    Last edited by Johann; 03-24-2009 at 08:52 AM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  2. #2
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    I found myself staring for quite a long time at the miniature firearms display, which was an in-progress installation.
    Gorgeous old pistols, tiny in size, in ornate cases made out of ivory- very very interesting to me. There was only one display case with them but man, was it cool to look at them. Never seen anything like them before.

    Lots of tankards, made of silver and ivory carved with Christian designs and tableaux, they have many bronze statues, amazing ones of a crucified Christ, a smaller version of Rodin's "The Thinker", and at the bottom of the main gallery they have an actual, huge carved wood Lion figurehead from a British warship from around 1720.

    There are some gorgeous original Picassos ("Seated Woman" and "Nude With Clasped Hands") , I saw only one Renoir ("the Concert" from 1918), they have a chess set that was designed by Salvador Dali (very freaky looking, conceived in 1964 and cast in bronze in 1971) as well as astounding paintings by Rubens- 2 must-sees are "The Massacre of the Innocents"- it'll take your breath away- and "Samson and Delilah". Fantin-Latour's "the Dance" is incredible, , Tony Scherman's 2004 "Ciao Gaia" is a powerful canvas with just a mushroom cloud in 3 hues (Black, Redd and Grey (melded with orange, pink and wax). And there are many many others for your viewing pleasure.
    I also really liked the sculpture by Jean Arp ("Silence"). Very interesting as well was the "Hercules Supporting the Heavenly Sphere", a "Covered Cup", engraved in silver with amazing intricate designs, with gilded silver and carved boxwood. I just stared at it and said over and over: "that is so fucking cool". It is an awesome sculpture. I was just amazed that some human being designed and created that thing. You gotta take a look at it if you ever can. It's pedestal is at the perfect height to admire all of the engraved stuff on it. Sheer brilliant art man...It was made by David Heschler who lived from 1611-1667. Think Atlas as a paperweight in Galilleo's observatory...

    Great place to visit if you're ever in Toronto Canada...
    There's a bust and memorial for Mary Pickford that's within walking distance too.
    Last edited by Johann; 03-17-2009 at 08:52 AM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  3. #3
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    And how could I forget?!?

    The Armenian painter Arshile Gorky has an original hanging there, "They Will Take My Island" (1944) and there was what seemed to be an iPod on the wall with three short little videos of Atom Egoyan, standing in front of the very painting, discussing his background and the significnace of the painting and how it impacted him as a youth when he came to the gallery the first time and saw it.

    There's also works by Joyce Weiland ("Woman Amusing Herself"),
    J.W. Waterhouse, H.R. Watson, Bazzani, Otto Dix, and John Selby-Bigge (loved his single painting "Objects in Front of a Window") +
    Magritte, Degas, just scores and scores of incredible paintings to gaze at.
    Wonderful, extremely interesting and engaging art gallery.
    Last edited by Johann; 03-24-2009 at 03:13 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  4. #4
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    As I only spent a short time at the AGO, I'll be back many more times for sure. You could spend all day just in one room! I haven't mentioned the African collection they have, which will thrill any art lover. They also have works by Gainsborough, van Gogh (both artists that Stanley Kubrick liked), Andy Warhol and the collection of Canadian art from long time ago to the present will boggle your mind.

    For the serious lover of the arts, this is a must-attend attraction in Toronto. There are multi-media areas, that show live interactive installations (some with films) and seeing everything comprehensively is impossible in just one visit.
    They have a very nice gift shop and friendly staff.
    The building is practically brand-new and it's a stunning structure, inside and outside. The maps are easy to read even though the museum is huge to negotiate.

    Many kids were there, and some seemed to be as in awe of the works as their parents. I saw one little girl go "wow" when seeing an amazing stained glass piece from an old church.
    I was saying "wow" in my mind too.
    Some artifacts are just so beautiful at AGO.
    The curators and lighting designers deserve awards.
    I think the museum will be in the news a lot in the coming years as a fantastic cultural landmark.
    It's Toronto's Louvre.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Johann
    And how could I forget?!?
    The Armenian painter Arshile Gorky has an original hanging there, "They Will Take My Island" (1944) and there was what seemed to be an iPod on the wall with three short little videos of Atom Egoyan, standing in front of the very painting, discussing his background and the significnace of the painting and how it impacted him as a youth when he came to the gallery the first time and saw it.
    I'm enjoying this thread a lot!
    The videos by Egoyan are most likely scenes from Atom Egoyan's short A PORTRAIT OF ARSHILE, in which he explains why he named his son Arshile. The short is included as an extra on the dvd of ARARAT (which features A. Gorky as a character and shows another one of his paintings).
    Last edited by oscar jubis; 03-16-2009 at 10:04 PM.

  6. #6
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    I haven't seen that. Must check it out.
    Egoyan is very very passionate about Gorky and I completely understand why. In the video (from what I can remember him say) he mentions the conditions under which the painting came to be, how Gorky's worldview is extraordinary, considering what he endured in his lifetime. Witnessing/experiencing genocide is not something that should produce profound art. But it did.
    I read in a book about Kubrick that he came across a historic quote when preparing another non-existant film of his, "Aryan Papers":
    Poetry was impossible after the holocaust

    In something unrelated but kinda related:
    That book "On God"by Norman Mailer haunts me.
    Seriously, he makes some points in that tome that I find myself re-thinking about. Often, too.
    In it he mentioned the holocaust, and how could God possibly allow something like that to occur. The horrific stories of people being duped into taking a "shower". The last thing on their minds is "You cheated me!". Scores of souls, massive influx of the dead- that's gotta do a number on God's emotions, if he is the creator of emotions. Doesn't it seem absolutely possible that God's sorrow is so much more immense than ours that ours is nothing but a mockery?
    Mailer made a point about how God needs humans to be more extraordinary and it's branded my brain.
    God needs us to be more extarordinary.
    Last edited by Johann; 03-18-2009 at 01:04 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  7. #7
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    Yes, it's abundantly clear to me after that visit that one must go many times to get a comprehensive experience.
    Same for the Louvre.
    You'd have to go 1000 times to see it all and appreciate it all...
    Last edited by Johann; 03-17-2009 at 03:50 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  8. #8
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    I grew up outside Chicago in a small Midwestern town. Yet as soon as I could find suitable transportation, I made my way to the city only to discover The Art Institute on Michigan Avenue. It is a marvelous place within an enormous space and seemingly endless galleries. When I go to Chicago for a visit, the lure of the Art Institute calls me like a siren.

    The impressionist gallery is a favorite, as one of its most famous paintings is by Georges Saurat "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte" which takes up an entire wall and can be seen in the film "Ferris Beuller's Day Off." It also inspired the musical, "Sunday in the park with George." You can walk up to within a few feet of the picture and see how Saurat carefully places each "dot" of paint to create this enormous picture one pixil at a time. It boggles the mind.

    I could spend hours there. I must visit Toronto some day to see your gallery and to be saved by art once more.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  9. #9
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    The AGO just had 33, 000 visitors during the March break.
    So it is quite popular in the city.
    (Plus Wednesdays admission is free, regular admission is $18).

    My posts about the AGO are far from complete.
    I've not included scores and scores of pieces of art. (World Class at that). When you leave the AGO, you know you've just experienced something amazing, and that you have to return.
    That's what an art gallery should do to a person.
    Whatever "style" or art movement you are interested in, this gallery has something major by someone major in every category. Most major artists of note are represented in either artworks or inspired artworks.
    And yes, you can get real up close and personal to each piece of art. (except the miniature boats/ships/warships/firearms- they are encased in plexiglass).
    To be standing mere inches in front of a Hunt, Gorky or Picasso...you feel something powerful.


    By the way the gift shop has tons of deluxe hardcover books on major artists. It's truly a worthwhile place to visit.
    Last edited by Johann; 03-24-2009 at 01:15 PM.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  10. #10
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    If and when you make it to "shy-town" check out the Thorne Rooms in the basement of the Art Institute. Unlike anything you've ever seen in any city, these unique 68 rooms (thirty-eight more rooms were added since 1991) were created in miniature at the bequest of James Thorne widow. Here is that story lifted from an article by the NY Times:

    "Eugene J. Kupjack, who produced the 30 American miniature rooms at the Art Institute of Chicago, died on Nov. 8 at Resurrection Hospital in Chicago. He was 79 years old and lived in Park Ridge, Ill.

    He died of congestive heart failure, his son Henry said.

    Mr. Kupjack's miniature rooms at the Chicago museum -- 30 shadow-box settings ranging in style from the Colonial period to Art Deco -- were widely admired when they first went on public view at the 1939 World's Fair. The rooms were designed by Narcissa Niblack Thorne, widow of James Ward Thorne, a Montgomery Ward & Company department store heir, who sent them to the Art Institute after the fair closed in 1941, and eventually donated them to the museum.

    Before attending a memorial service for Mr. Kupjack at the museum yesterday, Marshall Field 5th, chairman of the museum, said by telephone that the rooms had been on view at the museum most of the time for 50 years and "they remain one of our most popular exhibits."

    Mr. Kupjack went to work for Mrs. Thorne in 1937. After reading an article in Life magazine about the European-style miniature rooms she had devised using antiques, he sent her, unsolicited, a miniature chair with a cane seat and a plastic plate and goblet he had made.

    "Mrs. Thorne telephoned my father," Henry Kupjack said yesterday. "She asked him how he knew she couldn't find any canework and where he had bought the glass plate and goblet. My father told her the plate and goblet weren't glass but Lucite -- plastic. And she replied, 'How would you like to come and work for me.' "

    Mr. Kupjack was born in Chicago, where he attended art classes at the Art Institute for a decade, beginning when he was 8 years old. He attended Crane College. During World War II, he served as a lieutenant commander and commander in the Office of Naval Research in Washington, making orthopedic instruments, 13 of which are patented. In Museum Collections

    After he left the Navy in 1948, he worked mostly for Mrs. Thorne until shortly before her death in 1966. In 1959, he was commissioned by the American Institute of Decorators to produce 17 miniature rooms, copies of important settings designed by such interior decorators as William Pahlmann and Mrs. Henry Parish 2d.

    Mr. Kupjack went on to produce more than 700 period-style miniature rooms from his studio in Park Ridge, working for corporations and collectors seeking traditional rooms with doll-house-scale furnishings one-twelfth normal size. His rooms are in the collections of the Henry Francis du Pont Winterthur Museum in Delaware, the Forbes Magazine gallery in New York City and the Palm Springs Desert Museum in Palm Springs, Calif.

    In addition to his son Henry, of Chicago, Mr. Kupjack is survived by another son, Jay, of Park Ridge, and a brother, Raymond, of Sante Fe, N.M."

    By Rita Reif as it appeared in the NY Times November 16, 1991

    In addition to the painting and scupture, the Thorne Rooms are a delightful romp down through a long forgotten era with the smallest and finest details painstakenly reproduced. The only thing missing is tiny people to fill those rooms. I remember seeing them as a child, wishing I was in one of those rooms. Later, when I took my son, I felt in love with them all over again.
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  11. #11
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    The Thorne Rooms

    To view the Thorne Rooms and be amazed you are seeing miniatures, follow this link:

    http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/thorne
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  12. #12
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    Thanks for the info. That's the kind of cultural info we need.
    If you go again please post about it. I love hearing about art galleries in other locations.

    I'd love to travel to Chicago.
    Maybe I'll take a weekend this year and drop down. It's close to T.O.
    Toronto is damn windy too, I must say.
    That wind off Lake Ontario man, it is COLD!
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  13. #13
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    Thanks also for the link cinemabon.

    Those really do look amazing.
    The detail...just awesome.
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

  14. #14
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    May I suggest the train in the summer. When you arrive in Chicago, you will walk out of the station onto Michigan Avenue. In one direction, you will see Miracle Mile, bordered by such buildings as the John Hancock at over 100 stories. In the other direction, you will find Grant Park, which has the Art Institute at one end and the Field Museum (as in Marshall Field) at the other with the Observatory and the Aquarium off to the east on a penninsula into Lake Michigan. At the center of the park is the Buckingham Fountain, the largest outdoor fountain in North America. Wander through the Art Institute; then walk to the fountain and along the way taste from every great restaurant Chicago has to offer in the "Taste of Chicago" held every summer the week before the Fourth of July. I guarantee you will have the time of your life. If you stay at the Palmer House, your eyes will pop when you walk into the main lobby steeped in old world tradition.

    "Life is a carnival... believe it or not."
    Colige suspectos semper habitos

  15. #15
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    2 Bits a shot
    "Set the controls for the heart of the Sun" - Pink Floyd

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