Posts Tagged ‘Art Gallery of Ontario’

Dots, dots, dots.  Millions of dots? Dots and lights worth waiting for.

‘Infinity Mirrors’, Yayoi Kusama, AGO

on a mannequin, a white t-shirt and a polka dot scarf. The t-shirt has writing that says, My life is a dot lost among thousands of other dots, Kusama

Kusama’s polka-dot paintings were based on visual hallucinations she has experienced throughout her life, often based on “a miserable childhood as an unwanted child born of unloving parents.”  These hallucinations often involve repeating patterns that engulf her field of vision, a process she refers to as “obliteration”.  Painting has  helped to keep her demons at bay, to obliterate her anxieties.

In 1968 she returned to Japan.  In 1977 she checked herself into the Tokyo mental hospital where she has lived ever since.  She has a studio where she works during the day but she returns to the hospital at night.

below: In an effort to keep the waiting times down, the AGO is letting three people at a time into the rooms.   I’m not sure who the man is, but he seemed to put up with Joanne and I and our cameras!  This was the first room in the exhibit and it was a bit of a let down – it was the only one that wasn’t impressive.  Minor gripe – why not a mirror on the ceiling?

phallie fields, white with red dots, mirrored room, mirrored walls, people,

below: 30 seconds per visit.  All timed – note the stopwatch!

a woman is entering Kusama's room with many lights and mirrors

below: Stars and planets into infinite.  Small specks in the vastness of the universe.  Obliteration of the self as we become just a very tiny, minuscule dot in the infinite of space.  This exhibit is “The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away” and is made with hundreds of hanging LED lights.

dark room with lights that look like planets and stars, mirrors on walls and ceiling.

below: The words on the wall say, “The souls of millions of light years away”. This is the line-up for the room above. It was one of the shorter lines.

people lining up inside an art gallery

Kusama was born in Japan in 1929 and trained originally in traditional Japanese painting. One of the only American painters that she knew of was Georgia O’Keefe, having seen her work in an art book. She wrote to Georgia O’Keefe asking for advice on how to break into the New York art world. In 1958 she moved to New York City where she became part of the avant-garde art scene. She was into pop art and hippie counterculture. She organized a series of anti-war public performances featuring naked people who were painted with brightly colored polka dots.

 

below: This room was fun especially since I got to spend a few seconds alone in it.  Dancing with pink balls.

in a room with mirrored walls and ceiling, many large pink balls with black polka dots on them.

below: Looking into “Love Forever” – a small hexagonal box with some mirrors on the outside and two small windows (peepholes!) as seen from the outside.  This structure/exhibit was first shown in 1966.

a woman is looking through a small window into a box with mirrors and lights.

below: Looking in the window…. It’s amazing what can be done with mirrors and lights in a small space.  Mirrors combined with the technology of LED lights that can change colours with computer controlled programs made for an impressive display.  An endless repetition of patterns.

lights, mirrors in a room with a window. Looking in through the window.

below: Same room, different colours

teal blue lights and mirrors, reflections, kusama infinite mirrors

below: Obliteration Room – multicoloured stickers that people have added to an all white room with all white furniture and accessories like wine glasses and dog dishes.  As more people pass through, the more colourful the room becomes.  The dots make it difficult to see the details in the room.  Can you tell what is on the table?

 

a room all white, including white furniture is covered with dots in many colours, stickers that different people have added to the room. Part of exhibit at AGO of work by Yayoi Kusama

Kusama also paints and makes sculptures.

a wall of bright lively paintings by Yayoi Kusama on the wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Some women are standing nearby, looking at the paintings.

dot covered sculpture in front of a dot covered painting

the windows on the staircase that runs behind the Art Gallery of Ontario back wall, from 5th to 4th floor, are covered with big red dots in honour of the exhibit by Yayui Kusama

Thanks to Joanne of My Live Lived Full for playing with me!

Lots of shiny silver balls, like bowling balls with bling, and lots of paint on large canvases…. on the surface these two things don’t really have anything in common.  But because they are two things that I saw at the Art Gallery of Ontario, I’m going to throw them together in this blog post.  The shiny spheres are part of a display by Yayoi Kusama  while the paintings I refer to are those by J.P. Riopelle and Joan Mitchell.

I saw the balls first.   There has been a lot of hype and publicity for the latest AGO exhibit, “Infinity Mirrors” by Yayoi Kusama that just opened this past weekend.  You’ve probably seen the all the red and white polka dots on the TTC and elsewhere around the city.   Last week when I was at the AGO I noticed that another Kusama exhibit was in the works, one that didn’t involve buying a “hard to get” ticket.  I was curious.  I’ve seen some photos of “Infinity Mirrors” so I went with great expectations.   Maybe that was my mistake.

below: “Narcissus Garden” consists of a large room with hundreds of shiny silver spheres laid out on the floor.

a large room, with 3 women looking at hundred of silver balls arranged on the floor. The balls are about the size of bowling balls

“Narcissus Garden” dates back to 1966 when it was a performance piece by Kusama at the Venice Bienalle.  She walked among the balls, picking them up, and looking at herself in them.   Here, at the AGO, they lie on the floor.   The ceiling is reflected over and over again.   It’s a dull ceiling.   The balls are scuffed up.   You might be able to lie on the floor to get a good look at the reflections bouncing around and that might be interesting.  As it is, “listless” is the word that I would use to describe it.  It’s the tag along mangy mutt to the main event.

reflections of a person in a few shiny silver balls

I spent a few minutes trying to figure out how to improve the presentation but, meh, no.  Instead I went upstairs to take a second look at the lesser known “new” exhibit at the AGO, the marvellous Mitchell and Riopelle show, “Nothing in Moderation”.  American abstract painter Joan Mitchell (1925 -1992) and Canadian abstract painter Jean Paul Riopelle (1923-2002) met in Paris in 1955.  For 24 years they were colleagues, friends, and lovers.  This exhibit consists of more than 50 of their works on loan from collectors around the world and shown together.

below: Looking at (part of) ” Tilleul (the Linden Tree)”, 1992 by Mitchell.

A woman in dark bright pink hair, with matching purse and shoes stands in front of a large painting by Joan Mitchell in an art gallery

below: Three degrees of interest in “Chasse Interdit (Hunting Prohibited)” by Mitchell, 1973.  On loan from the George Pompidou Centre in Paris.   The title of the painting refers to a ban on hunting – apparently Riopelle loved hunting and Mitchell loathed it.

Three people are looking at a large Riopelle painting in an art gallery, two are sitting on a couch and the third is standing closer to the painting.

below: The painting here is “Avatac” by Riopelle, 1971.  It is acrylic paint on top of lithographs on canvas

an emptry art gallery room except for a security guard standing on one side, a brown couch is in the middle of the room and a large abstract painting by Riopelle is one one wall, you can see into the next room where there is also a painting on a wall.

below: This is a photo of a small part of the above painting.  If you look closely, you can see the lithograph peeping through.   I can see a small animal head near the top left (a cat?) and there seems to be another lower down.

acrylic paint on top of lithograph, a detail of a large work by J P Riopelle called Avatac, created in 1971.  abstract art.

below: One thing that intrigued me about Riopelle’s painting was that even though there is a lot of paint (palette knife?), there are still some places where the canvas is visible.  Just small bits.

a close up of a large abstract painting with lots of acrylic paint on it

below: The details in the above photo are from the top left square in ” Mitchikanabikong ” by Riopelle.

large painting by Riopelle called Mitchikanabikong which is sort of divided into 6 quares, 3 across the top row and 3 on the bottom.  they alternate light and dark

below: The gallery was quiet on Wednesday morning.   Both of these paintings are by Joan Mitchell.   On the left, on loan from the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC is “Marlin”, 1960.  The other is “Untitled” from 1961 and it is on loan from the Joan Mitchell Foundation in New York.

a flat bench in front of two paintings on a gallery wall

And to end, a couple more for you to enjoy.

two women looking at large paintings in an art gallery

a woman with her back to the camera is looking at a large painting in an art gallery, AGO, Art gallery of Ontario,

 

Florine Stettheimer: Painting Poetry,
an exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario

Florine Stettheimer (1871-1944) was the 4th child of five, daughter of  Joseph and Rosetta.  Joseph, a banker, abandoned the family early on and was never mentioned again.  Older siblings Walter and Stella married and moved out while the younger three girls, Ettie, Florine and Carrie remained in the same household with their mother until their deaths.   They became known as “the Stetties”.  They hosted salons in Manhattan and lived a life of leisure and artistic pleasure.

below:  Family Portrait II, 1933, This painting has flowers, New York City references, and Florine Stettheimer’s immediate family portrayed in a theatrical setting/arrangement.  These are themes that occur over and over again in Stettheimer’s work.  Here Ettie is reading, Rosetta is playing cards, Florine is painting, and Carrie is playing hostess.

painting by Florine Stettheimer on display at the Art Gallery of Ontario

The Stettheimer children were born in Rochester NY.  Between 1906 and 1914 Florine and her mother and sisters lived in Europe before settling in Manhattan.

A portion of the exhibit features  a collection of designs for costumes for a ballet that Florine wrote while she was in Paris in 1912.  ‘Orphee of the Quat-z-Arts’ (or ‘Revellers of the Four Arts Ball’) was based on a costume parade organized by Parisian art students and in it the main character, Georgette, encounters the ancient Greek minstrel Orpheus and a parade of mythical creatures, as she and her father walk down the Champs Elysee.  The ballet was never performed.

below: One of 42 sketches and 9 relief maquettes, Georgette.

costume design mockup by Florine Stettheimer, AGO exhibit,

below: People, both men and women, were painted with elongated willowy shaped bodies.

a woman looking at a painting by Florine Stettheimer, AGO,

Florine also wrote poetry and she liked to send her poems to her friends.  In 1949 her sister Ettie published a book of Florine’s poems titled ‘Crystal Flowers’.  This is one of the poems:

And Things I Loved
a poem by Florine Stettheimer

Mother in a low-cut dress
Her neck like alabaster
A laced up bodice of Veronese green
A skirt all puffs of deeper shades
With flounces of point lace
Shawls of Blonde and Chantilly
Fichues of Honeton and Point d’Espirit
A silk jewel box painted with morning glories
Filled with ropes of Roman pearls
Mother playing the Beautiful Blue Danube
We children dancing to her tunes
Embroidered dresses of White Marseilles
Adored sashes of pale watered silk
Ribbons with gay Roman stripes
A carpet strewn with flower bouquets
Sevres vases and gilt console tables
When sick in bed with childhood ills –
All loved and unforgettable thrills.

 

below:  The painting in the foreground of this picture is ‘Self-Portrait with Palette (Painter and Faun)’, 1910s.  According to the words that accompany the painting, the faun behind her symbolizes a memory inspired by Russian ballet star Vaslav Nijinsky whom she saw perform in Paris in 1912.  After the performance, Florine wrote: “Nijinsky the faun was marvelous.  He seemed to be truly half beast… He knew not civilization – he was archaic – so were the nymphs.  He is the most wonderful male dancer I have seen”.

people at the Art Gallery of Ontario in a gallery featuring paintings by Florine Stettheimer,

below: Self-portrait, 1933

two women looking at a portrait painted by FLorine Stettheimer,

“For a long time
I gave myself
To the arrested moment
To the unfulfilled moment
To the moment of quiet expectation
I painted the trance moment
The promise moment
The moment in the balance
In mellow golden tones…
Then I saw
Time
Noise
Color
Outside me
Around me
Knocking me
Jarring me
Hurting me
Rousing me
Smiling
Singing
Forcing me in joy to paint them…”

This exhibit continues at the AGO until 28 January 2018

‘Room for Mystics’
An exhibit at the Art Gallery of Ontario by Sandra Meigs and Christopher Butterfield.

artwork by sandra Meigs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, paintings back to back, standing on the floor, bright colours, banners hanging on the walls of concentric yellow circles on white

Scattered around the room are bright coloured, simple paintings that are displayed back to back.  Banners with concentric yellow circles hang on the walls.  The solid colour boxes beside the paintings hide speakers.

artwork by sandra Meigs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, paintings back to back, standing on the floor, bright colours, banners hanging on the walls of concentric yellow circles on white

A large red mobile hangs from the ceiling, happiness with closed eyes.  Happiness and joy are two of the emotions that this room evokes.  Walking through the room is definitely a positive experience!  You can’t help but smile.

artwork by sandra Meigs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, paintings back to back, standing on the floor, bright colours, banners hanging on the walls of concentric yellow circles on white plus a large mobile of a red smile and two ele lashes from closed eyes

The paintings and mobile are the work of Sandra Meigs, a Canadian artist based in British Columbia.   Accompanying the exhibit is a ‘sound installation’ composed by Christopher Butterfield.

artwork by sandra Meigs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, paintings back to back, standing on the floor, bright colours, banners hanging on the walls of concentric yellow circles on white

artwork by sandra Meigs at the Art Gallery of Ontario, paintings back to back, standing on the floor, bright colours, banners hanging on the walls of concentric yellow circles on white

The exhibit continues until 14 January 2018

If you go looking for Henry Moore at the corner of Dundas and McCaul, you will be disappointed.

green construction fence around a small part of the sidewalk at the corner of Dundas and McCaul, equipment inside, one small gingko tree, building says Art Gallery of Ontario

Instead, you have to walk around the corner.

yellow pedestrian crossing sign that has been altered to look like 2 art students, one with a cardboard tube and the other with a portfolio case

After residing at the corner of Dundas and McCaul since 1974,  Henry Moore’s sculpture “Large Two Forms” was moved to the newly renovated Grange Park on the 3rd of June.   Grange Park is behind the Art Gallery of Ontario as well as OCADU (Ontario College of Art and Design University).

 the Henry Moore sculpture, Large Two Forms, in Grange Park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario , a couple on a bench beside it

The new setting suits the sculpture.  There is more room for people to interact with the sculpture and the park makes a more picturesque background for those who like to take photos.

 the Henry Moore sculpture in Grange Park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario - Large Two Forms, with the blue wall of the AGO in the background

a girl in orange shorts and purple shoes stands on top of the Henry Moore sculpture in Grange Park behind the Art Gallery of Ontario

I’d be interested in knowing if the AGO has any plans for the now empty corner at Dundas and McCaul.  Was the construction pictured above just to remove the platform that the sculpture used to be on?  Or is there more to it than that?

Also, I don’t mean to spoil your fun, but how long will it be until a “do not climb” sign appears in Grange Park?   I’m not advocating for one – I just know how the city acts on things like this.   Part of me says, “Quick, get your selfie from on top of the sculpture while you can!”

A little extra that I discovered this morning.   As I wrote this blog post I kept thinking about “Down By the Henry Moore”, a song from my past.   All I could recall was the title.   I found a great version of it on youtube –  the song was written and sung by Murray McLauchlan and was released in 1974.   The Henry Moore referred to in the song is the one in front of City Hall but the video on youtube has some fabulous old picture of Toronto!  Many thanks to john allore who made the video and uploaded it to youtube.  I really enjoyed seeing the old images, down memory lane and all that.   If you are interested, this is the link;  it will open youtube in a new page.  You may have to suffer through a few seconds of ads and you have my apologies for that.

Keeping warm at the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Below are 5 works of art that I saw recently when I decided to spend the afternoon inside instead of walking in the cold.  The AGO is definitely a great way to stay warm!

below: There is a room at the Art Gallery of Ontario that is home to four large metal sculptures at the moment.  Large structural pieces. These creations are the work of Sir Anthony Caro (1924-2013).  They are made of discarded metal pieces.  At one point in his career, he made scale models for a giant art project for Park Avenue in New York City.  When the project was cancelled, he took apart the models and used the pieces to make a new series.  Three of those on display here are from that series, ‘Sculpture Laid Bare’.  It would be interesting to see what the Park Avenue sculpture models looked like.

a woman with long hair walks away from a large metal sculpture made of cast off pieces of metal, on display at the Art gallery of Ontario,

In the early part of his career, Caro made modeled figurative pieces cast in bronze.  In the 1960’s he started to use prefabricated steel and aluminum, sometimes in bright colours such as the example below:

red sculpture by anthony caro, metal, 4 upright cylindrical tubes with metal mesh forming an X on top of them.

Red Splash, by Anthony Caro. Image found online at source.

If they were outside, they would invite interaction.  Touch them.  Climb on them.  In this gallery setting, there is a no touching policy.   The words on the wall says that: “He [Caro] meditates on the passage of time, processes of decay, the painful realities of aging, and the future of modern sculpture.”  Isn’t that why the gallery is doing their best to preserve them just the way they are?


below: ‘The Distinctive Line Between One Subject and Another’ by John McEwen, 1980.  Two steel wolves looking at each other across the room.  On the wall behind the wolves is ‘Folia Series #1 and #2 by Nobuo Kubota, 1976, representations of the wrinkles on the cerebellum in the brain.

two metal sculptures of life sized wolves looking at each other across the room, a large panel art work is on the wall behind them, half black and half yellow.

John McEwen is a Canadian sculptor.  A number of his sculptures can be found around Toronto.  He designed the boat hull like shapes for the Victory Peace memorial on the waterfront that I mentioned in a previous blog post – down to Coronation Park.  The three metal tubes outside the Air Canada Centre – the Searchlight Starlight Spotlight – are also his work.


below: More lines, this time its “Aforim” by Rita Letendre, 1975.  Which lines are parallel?  Is there a horizon line?  If so, which one is it?

horizontal lines, some parallel and some at slight angles, in blues and greys, painting on a gallery wall called Aforim by Rita Letendre


… And lastly, another reference to structure.  But not structure in the 3D, physical form, sense of the word.  Instead, it is a painting called ‘Number Structure II’ by Canadian artist Kazuo Nakamura (1926-2002).  Nakamura graphs out number-structure patterns and calculations and presents them as art.

below: One of the structures that Nakamura used was the Pascal Triangle.  This image shows the first 6 lines of the triangle.  Each number is the sum of the two numbers above it.  Can you figure out what the next line would be?   When expanded, it contains many number sequences and can be used to answer probability questions – as well as other mathematical things that I don’t understand.

the top 6 lines of pascals triangle, a mathematical structure of numbers

below: A small (maybe 1/8th) section of the painting … which unfortunately doesn’t give you much of an idea as to the composition of the artwork.  It does though give you an idea of the detail.  Some of the parts that I have omitted are triangle shapes that conform to Pascals triangle as pictured above.   Is it mathematics?  Is it art?  Where do you draw the line between the two?  Is there a line?

a detail picture of a painting by Kazuo Nakamura called Number Structure 2 which is based on Pascal Triangle. Lots of numbers written in white on blue and black background. the background is made into rectangles, squares and triangles.

It’s the kind of painting that a photograph can never do justice to.  It’s best seen in person.   Oh yes, the answer to the question above:  The next line of the triangle would be: 1, 6, 15, 20, 15, 6, 1.

First I heard a rumour that the Art Gallery of Ontario was going to remove that sculpture from the corner of Dundas & McCaul, you know, the one that everyone climbs on and takes their picture with, the one near the AGO entrance.

Then I read about in a newspaper.

You know, that curvy bulky slippery thing by Henry Moore, the one with a title that’s almost as shapeless as the sculpture, “Large Two Forms” although no one calls it that.   Oh, what do they call it anyhow?

Then I read about it online.

people are walking on the sidewalk, a woman is sitting by a sculpture by Henry Moore, the Art Gallery Of Ontario is beside the sculpture, street and other buildings in the background, street scene,

It’s sat on that corner since 1974.  That’s 42 years.  Longer than the average Torontonian has been alive.
Can you say synonymous? …. as in synonymous with the corner of Dundas and McCaul.

Apparently it’s going to be moved to Grange Park.  That’s the park behind the AGO, the one that is being renovated.

The expression “Rob Peter to Pay Paul” comes to mind.
How about new public art for a renewal of the park?

fence around a construction site, a park that is being renovated

fence around a construction site, a park that is being renovated, the blue wall of the Art Gallery of Ontario is in the background.

But walking the site and looking at the plans made me start to think.  The sculpture is being moved into its own space in the park and as I looked at the drawings and the artist rendition of the future space, it dawned on me that the redesign of Grange Park was possibly (probably?) done specifically to accommodate the sculpture.  The Art Gallery owns Grange Park after all.  Toronto does a lousy job of placement of their public art so maybe I shouldn’t complain about this?

Maybe.

As I tried to take photos of the sculpture where it is, I was reminded of how the streetscape in Toronto gets short shrift.

blog_art_gallery_corner

Henry Moore competes with old poles as well as bus shelters that are designed to maximize Astral Media ads.  At least there isn’t a ghastly trash bin beside the sculpture.  And at least the art is solid enough and strong enough to hold its own.

But this is going to be a problem for any artwork that gets put on that corner.
Oh dear, assuming that something will replace Henry Moore?

Don’t mess it up even more AGO, don’t leave the corner empty.
We have more of a cultural memory than you give us credit for.