The Modern Collection

ABOUT THE COLLECTION

The AGO’s modern collection encompasses European and American art from 1900 to the 1960s. Forming the backbone of this collection are key gifts made by Sam and Ayala Zacks, the British sculptor Henry Moore, Angelicka and David Littlefield, and the AGO’s pioneering Women’s Committee.

The museum owns several paintings and sculptures by some of the most important artists participating in vanguard movements in Europe before and during World War I, including Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, Jacob Epstein, Natalia Goncharova, Henri Matisse, Amadeo Modigliani, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Gino Severini.

Another area of strength is European art during the interwar period. Particularly exceptional is a cluster of major surrealist paintings by Joan Miró, Pablo Picasso and Yves Tanguy. Other artists working at this time who are represented in the collection are Pierre Bonnard, Otto Dix, Alberto Giacometti, Barbara Hepworth, Fernand Léger and Ben Nicholson. The AGO is also home to over 150 rare works made by artists associated with Cologne Dada.

A notable area in the modern collection is painting and sculpture of the United States post-World War II. The AGO owns many examples of Abstract Expressionism with works by Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Mark Rothko and David Smith. Post-painterly abstraction is represented with paintings by Sam Francis, Helen Frankenthaler, Ellsworth Kelly, Morris Louis, Kenneth Noland and Frank Stella. Works by European neo-avant-gardes such as Karl Appel, Jean Dubuffet, Luis Feito and Marie-Helene Vieira da Silva also distinguish the collection.

The AGO houses the world’s largest public collection of Henry Moore’s work, most of which were donated by Moore himself. The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre opened to the public in 1974.

COLLECTION HIGHLIGHTS


COLLECTION RESOURCES

E.P. Taylor Library & Archives

The E.P. Taylor Library & Archives is open to the public Tuesday to Saturday. Access to the Archives and Special Collections is by appointment. Book collections are searchable through our online catalogue. Special collections holdings may be browsed online using our alphabetical list.

Marvin Gelber Print & Drawing Study Centre

This state-of-the-art facility is open to the pubic and dedicated to the study of prints, drawings and photographs. It houses a collection of over 70,000 works which date from the 13th century to the present day. Find out more about the AGO's prints and drawings collection.

Image Licensing

Find the image you need from the Art Gallery of Ontario, one of the most distinguished art museums in North America. AGO Images licenses to scholarly and commercial clients worldwide. Be inspired by Tom Thomson, James Tissot, Kennth Noland, Walter Trier and many more amazing artists.

Requests for Loans

The Art Gallery of Ontario is committed to broadening access to its collections and supporting educational initiatives that promote a new understanding of art, through a program of outgoing loans. 

Conservation at the AGO

Conservation is the care and protection of cultural objects. As the caretakers of collections, conservators examine, research, clean and repair artworks, while also taking action to prevent future deterioration. Here at the AGO, the Conservation Team includes conservators, mat makers, framers and mount makers. These specialists work together to ensure each work will look its best not only for today, but also for generations to come.

Provenance Research Project

The AGO is committed to investigating the provenance of works in its permanent collection, particularly as it pertains the ownership history of European painting and sculpture during the 1933–45 period. The purpose of this is to increase awareness and understanding of the spoliation of works of art by the Nazis and others.

The AGO's Deaccessioning Policy

The Art Gallery of Ontario cares for its collections according to the highest standards. Its resources should only be devoted to works of art that serve its mission and are worthy of such care. This occasionally demands that works be judiciously and carefully deaccessioned from the collections. The proceeds from this are reinvested in new works of art.

Artefacts Canada

Thanks to the important contribution of this country's heritage institutions, the Artefacts Canada database contains close to 4 million object records and approximately 800,000 images from Canadian museums.

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