Posts Tagged ‘Hart House’

A morning exploring some of the art galleries at the University of Toronto.

below: Robarts Library, a large concrete building, is part of the University of Toronto and is their main humanities and social sciences library. It opened in 1973 and has been called Fort Book ever since.

intersection of Harbord and St. George streets, Robarts Library, large concrete building

I have walked past this library many times but I have never gone inside. What I didn’t know about this building is that it is also home to the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library.  It is named after a Thomas Fisher (1792-1874), who came from Yorkshire to Upper Canada in 1821 and settled by the Humber River.  In 1973, his grandsons, Sidney and Charles Fisher, donated many books to U of T .  Since then, the library has grown to approximately 740,000 volumes including hundreds of versions of Alice in Wonderland in many different languages.  They also collect manuscripts, photographs,  and other rare materials.   You can search their holdings online.

below: The view from the 4th floor observation deck.

interior of Thomas Fisher Rare Book library, looking down from the upper level to the tables below. Shelves of books line all the walls, ceiling is open to 4 or 5 storeys up , large central light fixture

At the moment, the Thomas Fisher Library has an exhibition called “Fleeting Moments, Floating Worlds, and the Beat Generation: The Photography of Allen Ginsberg”. Ginsberg (1926-1997) is known for his poetry but he also took pictures. The Thomas Fisher library has the largest collection of Ginsberg prints in the world.

exhibit of photos by Allen Ginsberg displayed in the Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library at U of T, some black and white photos in a case, some books too, shelves of books in the background

below: Mr. Ginsberg took bathroom mirror selfies.  I wonder what he’d think of instagram?

picture of a black and white photo taken by Allen Ginsberg of himself sitting naked and cross legged in front of a bathroom mirror

Ginsberg became friends with William Burroughs and Jack Kerouac, and the trio later established themselves as the main players in the Beat Movement with their unconventional writing and wild (for the times) lifestyles.  Ginsberg’s first published work was “Howl” in 1956.  It was called “an angry, sexually explicit poem”.   The San Francisco Police Department declared it to be obscene and arrested the publisher.  The court ruled that it was not obscene.  I can see it being “ahead of its time” in 1956 but today it’s fairly tame.

The opening lines:

“I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness, starving hysterical naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking in the supernatural darkness of

cold-water flats floating across the tops of cities contemplating jazz,”

below: Three books about The Beats.

display in a glass top case, three books by Alan Ginsberg, the one in the middle has a yellow cover and is The Beats

The Ginsberg exhibit continues until the 27th of April.

A short walk through part of the St. George campus….did I mention that it was snowing at the time?… to another art gallery on campus.

snow is falling, snow on the ground, tree in foreground, also black wrought iron fence, looking across the playing field of the U of T St. George campus to a building, tower,

below: We passed a moose standing in the snow.

a flat metal sculpture of a moose stands in a small space beside a tree, snow on the ground, snow falling from the sky. public art

The second gallery was the Art Museum at Hart House.   One of the exhibits showing there is “Figures of Sleep”.  Straight from the gallery website is this description of the exhibit: ” [it]…considers the cultural anxieties manifest in the popular and critical imagination around the collapsing biological function of sleep under economic, social and technological transformation”.  What it is is a collection of videos, photographs, and artwork depicting sleep, i.e. people sleeping by a number of different artists.  This exhibit ends on 3rd March.

below: Watching videos of people sleeping

a person watching a large video display in an art gallery

below: She’s very life like.  She’s also much smaller than life sized but even so, she was a bit creepy. “Untitled (old woman in bed)”, 2000-2002, by Ron Mueck.

very realistic and life like scupture of an old woman with grey asleep under a blanket with her head on a pillow

below: “Dream Catcher” by Rebecca Belmore, 2014 .  This wall hanging is quite large.

dream catcher by Rebecca Belmore, a large wall hanging of a person sleeping on the sidewalk, under a blanket with a picture of a lion on it.

below:  The Malcove Collection is in the same gallery.  The collection includes about 500 pieces, not all of which are on display at the moment.  Dr. Lillian Malcove (1902-1981) was born in Russia just before her parents emigrated to Canada and settling in Winnipeg.  She graduated from the University of Manitoba with an M.D. and then spent most of her adult life as a Freudian psychoanalyst in New York City.  Over her life time she amassed a collection of art that she bequeathed to U of T.

wall display cases in an art gallery, religious pieces on display, old, antiquities

below: From the Malcove collection, ‘Male Dedicant’, made of limestone, Coptic, late 4th century or early 5th century

antique stone carving (relief) of a man with curly hair, both hands raised, one hand holding a spherical object and the other hand holding a cross

below:  Detail from “The Burning Bush”, 19th century.

very old painting, religious, virgin mary and baby jesus in the center surrounded by other religous scenes

 

below: Last but not least, and having nothing to do with art, is this plaque on a wall near the art gallery at Hart House.  It commemorates the relationship between the Canadian and Polish Armies during WW1.  A transcription of it appears below.

 

plaque on an exterior brick wall commemorating the role of the Polish Army

In the early months of 1917, twenty three Polish probationary officers were trained here by the staff of the Canadian School of Infantry in Toronto.  They were the forerunners of more than 20,000 North American volunteers of Polish descent who were trained in Canada (mostly at Niagara on the Lake) to serve in the French Army, ultimately commanded by Joseph Haller.  The existence of this Polish Army in France went far to assure the presence of Poland at the Peace Conference at the end of the war and played a significant role in the reconstitution of a reunited and independent Poland after 123 years of partition. 
The Canadian Polish Congress has placed this tablet to commemorate the ardent Polish patriotism of so many Polish volunteers from the United States and Canada.   The Congress also wishes to honour the Canadian officers who trained the volunteers, including notably Lieutenant Colonel A.D. Lepan of the staff of this university and his principal subordinates, all from this university as well as Major C.R. Young, Major H.H. Madill, Major W.F. Kirk and Major F.B. Kenrick. A.D. 1990

 

a bike parked outside an old brick building on St. George campus of U of T, snow covered

More information about:

Allen Ginsberg exhibition

Figures of Sleep, and others, at Hart House Art Museum

Illustrations of the holdings of the Malcove Collection