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Opening attractions

We’ve put together a self-guided tour with six AGO Collection acquisitions we can’t wait for you to experience in person.

Haegue Yang, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels

Haegue Yang, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels, 2020 (detail). Aluminum venetian blinds, powder-coated aluminum hanging structure, steel wire rope, LED tubes, cable. Dimensions variable. Purchase, with funds from Eleanor and Francis Shen, the David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, Women’s Art Initiative, the Janet and Michael Scott Fund, the Contemporary Circle Fund, the Ivey Foundation Contemporary Art Endowment Fund, Sandra and Leo Del Zotto, the Jay Smith and Laura Rapp Fund, and the Molly Gilmour Fund, 2020. 2020/22. Photography by Craig Boyko, AGO Image © 2020.

The AGO is (finally) reopening and you’ve booked your ticket for your first visit back after months of anticipation. But where in the Gallery should you start? Photography? Prints & Drawings? European? Once you’ve experienced our major exhibition Andy Warhol, use the following selection of AGO Collection acquisitions to navigate through each level of the Gallery. Think of it as a self-guided tour with some works that have been patiently waiting for your return.


Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations (2013)

Level 1, gallery 127

Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations, etching with aquatint,

Julie Mehretu, Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations, 2013. One of a suite of five etchings. Etching with aquatint, spitbite, soft ground, hardground, drypoint and engraving in black and coloured ink on paper, Sheet: 79 × 95 cm. Purchase, with funds from the Trier-Fodor Fund, 2019. © Julie Mehretu, courtesy Marian Goodman Gallery 2019/2322.4

To the right of the Welcome Desk on Level 1 in gallery127, you'll find Algorithms, Apparitions and Translations (2013), a suite of five etchings by Ethiopian-born, American-based contemporary artist Julie Mehretu. One half of the exhibition Migrations of Line, on view until late January 2022, this 2020 acquisition marks the first time Mehretu’s work has entered the AGO Collection. Alexa Griest, AGO Associate Curator and R. Fraser Elliott Chair, Prints & Drawings, explained that the acquisition of Mehretu’s work is part of a larger plan to expand and diversify the Prints & Drawings collection with contemporary works. She explained further that, “seeking out the work of contemporary artists allows us to include more BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and People of Colour] artists whose work is much harder to locate before 1900.” Mehertu’s suite of etchings was printed by and purchased from master printer Greg Burnet, who also printed Kara Walker’s etchings Resurrection Story with Patrons (also part of the AGO Collection).


John Edmonds, Untitled (Du-Rag 1) and Untitled (Du-Rag 3) (2017)

Level 1, gallery 129

Install view of Untitled (Du-Rag 3) by John Edmonds

John Edmonds, Untitled (Du-Rag 3), 2017. Archival pigment print on Japanese silk, 150.5 x 107.5 cm. Art Gallery of Ontario, Purchased with the assistance of Art Toronto 2017 Opening Night Preview, 2017. © John Edmonds 2017/42.

Venture a short distance over to gallery 129 and you’ll find the work of three photographers, Dawoud Bey, John Edmonds and Wardell Milan, on view until early December 2021. Through different generational lenses, all three use photography to examine Black identity and African-American history and culture. For instance, du-rags—a silky protective headscarf usually worn by Black men—holds significance as an immediate identifier in Black hair culture. In his Du-Rag portrait series, Edmonds addresses preconceptions and biases surrounding Black masculinity, a strong example of the ways he works to identify and delve into how Black subjects and their subjectivity have been represented in photographs. Still in the early years of his career, he has quickly gained prominence as an artist with exhibitions and accolades from across the US and internationally. Untitled (Du-Rag 1, 2, 3) are the first works by Edmonds to enter the AGO Collection. This group exhibition is the first time Untitled (Du-Rag 1) and Untitled (Du-Rag 3) have been on view at the AGO.


Haegue Yang, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels (2020)

Level 1, Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium

Hague Yang

Haegue Yang, Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels, 2020. Aluminum venetian blinds, powder-coated aluminum hanging structure, steel wire rope, LED tubes, cable, Dimensions Variable. Purchase, with funds from Eleanor and Francis Shen, the David Yuile and Mary Elizabeth Hodgson Fund, Women’s Art Initiative, the Janet and Michael Scott Fund, the Contemporary Circle Fund, the Ivey Foundation Contemporary Art Endowment Fund, funds from Sandra and Leo Del Zotto, the Jay Smith and Laura Rapp Fund and the Molly Gilmour Fund, 2020. © Courtesy the artist and Greene Naftali Gallery, New York. 2020/22.

While you’re still meandering on Level 1, go to the Joey & Toby Tanenbaum Sculpture Atrium, steps away from Walker Court. Suspended from the ceiling is Woven Currents – Confluence of Parallels (2020), a large-scale installation by acclaimed contemporary artist Haegue Yang. The AGO commissioned Yang to create this work to coincide with her major exhibition, Emergence, presented here in the fall 2020. The inspiration for Woven Currents stems from the Two Row Wampum Belt Treaty of 1613 between Indigenous People and European settlers. When Yang encountered it, she was struck by how a visual representation could be more powerful than a written document, and how this streamlined expression could clearly convey the values, hopes and beliefs of those who created it. She was also intrigued by the site designated for the work, where the layered architecture makes the history of the institution visible. In Woven Currents, Yang connects the parallel lines of the wampum belt, which represent each group’s history and destiny, to the linear structure of venetian blinds. For more details about this work and the exhibition Emergence, you can read the exhibition guide (available for download here) and the printed catalogue (available at shopAGO).


Michael Belmore, Édifice (2019)

Level 2, gallery 238

Michael Belmore. Édifice

Michael Belmore. Édifice, 2019. River boulders, copper, 485.3 kg. Purchase, with funds by exchange from Professor and Mrs. Wm. O. Fennell, Toronto, in memory of J.H. Birkenshaw, and The J.S. McLean Collection, by Canada Packers Inc., 2019. © Michael Belmore. 2019/2317.

Before or after checking out Andy Warhol on Level 2, make a stop at galleries 224 and 238. In gallery 238, Michael Belmore’s self-titled exhibition features two sculptural works by the Anishinaabe artist: Breadth (2014) and Édifice (2019)—both part of the AGO Collection; the latter most recently acquired in 2020. Carved of Kingston sandstone and lined with copper, Édifice speaks to the environmental, socio-political and cosmological impacts of colonialism and human activity on land and its non-human inhabitants. It conceptualizes 500 years of Indigenous and settler relations while signifying the lived experiences of migration, erasure and displacement inflicted on Indigenous peoples. Michael Belmore is on view until late November 2021. While you’re in gallery 238, listen to Belmore explain the meaning behind Édifice here and learn more about the relevance of copper here. 


Ragnar Kjartansson, Death is Elsewhere (2019)

Level 2, gallery 224

Ragnar Kjartansson, Film still from Death is Elsewhere, 2019. Seven-channel video with sound, Running Time: 77 Mins. Purchase, in honour of Kitty Scott for her contributions to the AGO, by Shabin and Nadir Mohamed. Supported by the AGO, 2020. © Ragnar Kjartansson.2019/2486.

Another 2020 acquisition is screening in gallery 224, on a continuous all-surrounding video loop. Conceptualized by multidisciplinary Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, Death is Elsewhere is a panoramic seven-channel video installation, created in collaboration with two sets of twins: Kristín Anna and Gyða Valtýsdóttir of the Icelandic band múm, and Aaron and Bryce Dessner of the American band The National. The twins move in tandem while singing a haunting love song across Iceland’s Eldhraun lava field, the site of a disastrous volcanic eruption in 1783. Described by Kjartansson as a “kinetic musical sculpture”, Death is Elsewhere combines elements of the tragic, comic and absurd, triggering a subtle discomfort in viewers. Kjartansson spoke candidly about his process and practice in this virtual Artist’s Talk with Adelina Vlas, AGO Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, and Kathleen McLean, Assistant Curator, Talks, Programs & Screenings, recorded earlier this year.


Shuvinai Ashoona, Curiosity (2020)

Level 4, gallery 402 (image above)

Last but far from least on this self-guided tour, another 2020 acquisition can be found on Level 4 in gallery 402. Curiosity (2020) is featured prominently among 25 new works by renowned Gershon Iskowitz Prize-winning Inuk artist Shuvinai Ashoona. Measuring at an expansive 100 inches wide (a scale that is rare in Ashoona’s practice), Curiosity is drawn on paper with coloured pencil, graphite and ink. Ashoona draws from her imagination and traditional Inuit stories. Here, her home community of Kinngait (Cape Dorset) is framed from an aerial perspective, as if the viewer is flying overhead. Pastel and neon-hued creatures make their way around community landmarks and Inuit figures, lending a rich fantastical quality to the work. Throughout her artistic practice, Ashoona, along with her cousin Annie Pootoogook and other artists, have been credited with bringing Inuit art to the forefront of the international art stage. Shuvinai Ashoona: Beyond the Visible will be on view until January 2022. 

Reopening day is Wednesday, July 21! Admission is free for Members and anyone under 25. You can purchase an AGO Annual Pass for $35 to get in for free all year long.

All your health and safety FAQs have been answered here. Look ahead to the rest of 2021 and beyond with our packed exhibition schedule as well as these other 2020 acquisitions.

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