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A new chapter in AGO publishing

Explore exhibition catalogues from the AGO’s first 80 years, now online and free, courtesy of the Internet Archive and the Arcadia Fund.

Mondrian, Piet, 1972-1944.

Welsh, Robert P. Piet Mondrian, 1872-1944. 1966.

Exhibitions may be temporary, but fortunately for us the art of making exhibition catalogues – that rare synthesis of research, imagery, ideas – lives on, filling library shelves, bookstores, artist studios, coffee tables and now, for the first time in the history of the AGO, the internet!

In December 2020, the Internet Archive, an ambitious not-for-profit digital library bolstered by a grant from the Arcadia Fund, added 25 exhibition and collection catalogues published by the AGO to its website. Free to anyone, anywhere, these are the first AGO publications to be available digitally and join the Internet Archive library's collection of more than 28 million books, television clips, newspapers, musical performances and webpages.

Amy Furness, AGO Rosamond Ivey Special Collections Archivist and Head, Library & Archives, was responsible for making the initial selection of titles and is already at work selecting the next batch. These initial 25 represent highlights from the AGO’s first 80 years, and they’re a foundation for more to come – we plan to add Canadian Group of Painters catalogues and examples from the AGO’s 1970s Extension Services exhibitions, among others, in the coming year. This was a grant-funded project for the Internet Archive, and it is a compliment to the AGO’s Publishing department that we were included,” Furness explained.

Michael Snow / A Survey

Fulford, Robert; Young, Dennis; Foreman, Richard; Sitney, P. Adams. Michael Snow / A Survey. 1970.

The list of available digitized catalogues include both historic and art historical documents. Several pamphlets for the Group of Seven’s early exhibitions are included, as is the first exhibition catalogue for the Canadian Group of Painters.  Michael Snow/A Survey, the innovative 1970 catalogue designed by the artist and co-published by the AGO and Isaacs Gallery is available in full, as are catalogues for exhibitions by Chana Orloff and Isamu Noguchi, Piet Mondrian and Norval Morrisseau

In addition to housing the materials online, the Internet Archive provides readership statistics, revealing the international demand. To wit – since its addition to the site less than ten days ago, the 1987 exhibition catalogue Loring and Wyle: sculptors' legacy has been read eight times, while AGO publications as a whole have been viewed more than 225 times by readers from as far as Chile, the Pyrenees and Slovakia. 

This new chapter in the history of AGO publishing is a big one, but “our commitment to creating beautifully designed and innovative books hasn’t changed” says Jim Shedden, AGO Manager, Publishing. “AGO Publishing has been producing important print books for more than 110 years. For the foreseeable future that will continue, but in an environment of increasing online access, thanks to this partnership with the Internet Archive. Eventually, one can imagine making the entire history of AGO books available online, while we continue to produce smart, stunning printed books for visitors, fans, scholars, collectors and libraries.”

Lawren Harris catalogue

Harris, Lawren, Lawren Harris : paintings, 1910-1948. 1948.

2021 is no different, with the expected release of at least nine new titles, including Ben Woolfitt: Rhythms and Series co-published with Goose Lane Editions, an innovative snapshot of the AGO’s Indigenous & Canadian Collection and Emergence: Haegue Yang.

The Internet Archive library is free to use. To see the full list of AGO publications available on the site, visit https://archive.org/details/agopublications.

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