Posts Tagged ‘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.

A comparison of sorts.  Two painters from two different time periods.  One looked north and the other looks south.  The north with its barren cold and blue in comparison to the south and its lush greenness.  A famous anglo Canadian painter who went searching for simplicity and a relatively new British painter with Jamaican roots who explores complexities.

Lawren Harris and Hurvin Anderson.  You should know which is which!

I didn’t purposely set out to compare them.  I saw the ‘The Idea of North’ exhibit that features the Steve Martin paintings of Lawren Harris first.  As much as I like the Group of Seven, Harris’s minimalist snow and ice paintings have never been my favorite.  Still, it was an interesting collection to see.  After I finished there, I headed up to the contemporary art floors.  The fifth floor is still closed (new installation opening later this week) but I discovered that the fourth floor is devoted to the works of Hurvin Anderson.  As I walked around the Anderson installation I kept thinking of similarities and differences between him and Lawren Harris.

many people in a room in an art gallery, standing around and looking at paintings.

below: Mountains in Snow: Rocky Mountain Paintings VII, 1929.  One of the many famous Lawren Harris snow and ice paintings.  Light, reflected light, shadows, and contrasts.  The elements reduced to their simplest form.   The landscape itself is almost secondary.  Or the landscape is the medium, not the message.

a Lawren Harris painting of a snow covered mountain, blue sky in the background.

below: The large painting on the right is ‘Pic Island’ painted about 1924.  Pic Island is an unpopulated island along the north shore of Lake Superior.  Today the island is part of Neys Provincial Park.

a woman walks through a gallery with paintings on the wall. She stops to look at one of them.

below: Two of Hurvin Anderson’s paintings from his Caribbean landscape collection.  On the left is ‘Beaded Curtain – Red Apples’, 2010.

three young women sitting on a couch with their backs to the camera, they are looking at two large paintings on a wall, by Hurvin Anderson.

below:  ‘Constructed View’, 2010.  Anderson’s Caribbean paintings have grilles incorporated into them.  These are the security features prevalent on houses and businesses in the Caribbean (and elsewhere in the world), metal fixtures over windows and doors to keep out the unwanted.  They contain what’s inside.  They are a barrier.  They intrude on the landscape and cut it up.  Again, the landscape is almost secondary.  The message, or emotion, is more important.  [aside – There is a grille in the painting above (right) but it’s more subtle.]

a landscape painting in shades of green with fragments of white grille overlayed, repeating pattern of 4 circles with a square

Lawren Harris painted his famous mountain pictures in the late 1920’s.  In 1930 he visited Baffin Island and a few paintings resulted from that trip.  I learned that although I associate Harris with icebergs and arctic scenery, most of his snow and ice paintings were from the north shore of Lake Superior or from the mountains around Banff Alberta.

The repetoire of both painters is not limited to landscapes.  Harris painted many houses and street scenes from downtown Toronto including houses and streets that were demolished years ago.  The examples of Anderson’s non-landscape work were interiors.  Both men used bold colours but Anderson tends to show more detail in his paintings.

below: ‘Welcome: Carib’  The Welcome sign of the bar in  juxtaposition with the red metal work covering the window.  The picture beckons to us but keeps us out.

a man in a straw fedora stands in front of a painting called Welcome: Carib by Hurvin anderson, it features a red star patterned grille over the painting, over the window that is in front of the interior scene.

below: One of the paintings from Anderson’s Barbershop collection, ‘Flat Top’ 2008.

two young women walk away from a large painting hanging on an art gallerywall.  two barber chairs in a barber shop, empty.  Bright pink wall with squares of colour.

below: A selection of colourful Toronto houses in winter painted by Harris in the 1920s.

two women look at a line Lawren Harris paintings of brightly coloured houses in winter on a wall in an art gallery

In the 1930’s Lawren Harris’s personal life went awry.  The words on the wall at the AGO says that he divorced, remarried and moved to the states.  That’s a bit of spin.  He didn’t divorce his wife because that would be messy, apparently.  Instead in 1934 he just married the wife of an old friend.   And of course that turned messy and the new couple left for the USA for a few years before eventually settling in Vancouver BC.   Harris’s post-1934 work is very abstract and was never as successful as his earlier paintings.

below:  You can see the influence of the mountain paintings in this,  ‘Painting No. 4’, about 1939, painted when he was a member of the Transcendental Painting Group.  This was a collective of artists in New Mexico that Harris help to found.

an abstract painting by Lawren Harris, circles and diamonds in an egg shape

below: Since I have no idea where the art of Hurvin Anderson is headed, I will leave you with one more of his present paintings (I’m not sure those two ideas actually go together!).  ‘Foska Foska’, the interior of a shop behind yellow bars and black mesh.

a painting by Hurvin Anderson called Foska Foska, shows the interior of a store with a yellow metal gate in front.  and a wire structure covering the ceiling too

 

The Idea of North – until 18 September

Hurvin Anderson – until 21 August

#HarrisAGO | #HurvinAndersonAGO

Wisdom of the Poor: Communal Courtyard,
an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong,
Art Gallery of Ontario

This installation is made from parts of 100 old wardrobes collected from traditional Beijing neighbourhoods, or hutongs, like the one in which Song Dong grew up in.  These neighbourhoods, and their communal way of life, are disappearing.

 

 

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
The pieces of the wardrobes are arranged with the backside towards the viewer.  The arrangement is such that you can not see the front side of most of the wardrobes.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
There are two circles of wardrobes that you can enter – where you can now stand in the courtyard so to speak.   The wardrobes become stand-ins for the fronts of houses that once faced onto courtyards in the old hutongs of Beijing.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections of a foot in one of the mirrors
A wardrobe was one of the items that the Chinese government provide to all families.  They are all similar yet different.  All have mirrors.  Most are made of the same colour wood and most have green curtains.  They all have little legs and they are all about the same height.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections
Wardrobes are personal articles and former owners have left their marks on many of them…. a different fabric in the window or a picture glued onto the wood.
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door handles, key holes and a curtain that is a blue and white plaid and has musical notes on it.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, wardrobes arranged in a curved shape
part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections

This installation also appeared in the Venice biennale in 2011 although the wardrobes were arranged differently.  For the exhibit at the AGO, there are a number of items that appear within the ‘courtyards’ created by the wardrobes.  For the viewer, these items can only be viewed through the windows of the wardrobes.  One of the items, below, is a series of three paintings of the Canadian ballerina Karen Kain.

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections. through one of the windows there is a painting of Karen Kain on the wall

In another, bikes

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, through two of the windows there is a bike

part of an art installation by Chinese artist Song Dong using vintage wooden wardrobe doors with mirrors and curtains, reflections, door knobs and frosted glass and a white curtain

This installation remains at the AGO until 17 July 2016