AGO draws gems from its modern and contemporary collection this winter for five new exhibitions

Highlights include the return of Claes Oldenburg’s Floor Burger, a flashback to 1964, Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard and 100 reasons to love drawing

TORONTO — This winter, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates its superb collection of modern and contemporary art with five special exhibitions. Featuring long-time visitor favourites, new acquisitions and hidden treasures, these exhibitions give AGO visitors the opportunity to relive key moments in the AGO’s history and to encounter new works by leading Canadian and international contemporary artists.

Opening in December, A New Look: 1960s and ‘70s Abstract Painting at the AGO and Drawing, Je T’aime: Selections from the AGO Vaults provide two unique views of the AGO's collection. In January, the Gallery welcomes visitors to discover Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard, and to revisit the excitement and fun of Pop Art in SuperReal: Pop Art from the AGO CollectionRecently opened in the AGO’s contemporary tower, Many things brought from one climate to another offers visitors a glimpse into the state of contemporary art, with a selection of cutting-edge acquisitions, loans and rarely seen treasures.

“The AGO has a longstanding commitment to cutting-edge art and ideas, both within our exhibition program and our collection,” says Stephanie Smith, AGO Chief Curator. “The works on display here — from classic Pop works of the ‘60s to newly-minted art — came into our collection as the result of visionary thought by current and former curators, innovative collaborations, and generous gifts from our community. This winter, we’re proud to celebrate the richness and diversity of contemporary art at the AGO."

“Seen together, these exhibitions provide an exciting glimpse into the various ways artists create meaning,” says Kitty Scott, the AGO’s Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Art. “In looking at seminal moments in drawing, Pop Art and abstraction, we can think about where we have been and where we are going. In this context, we can see how the contemporary artists being collected by the AGO inherit and dynamically transform past these vocabulaires.”

The spotlight on modern and contemporary art runs now through spring 2016, and includes, chronologically:

Many things brought from one climate to another
Nov. 14, 2015 - June 12, 2016
The current display on the fifth floor of the AGO’s contemporary tower puts a spotlight on contemporary artists working with divergent media. The title of the installation is taken from a 1981 work by American conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner and offers a framework for this presentation, connecting artworks from across vast distances to provide a snapshot of current artistic thinking. Featuring 19 works, the installation marks the debut of several recent AGO acquisitions including Kevin Beasley’s sound sculptures BEATEN-FACE/TOMS/ARMS, TIES, & LEG/FLOOR/BODY/BASS (2014)Melanie Smith’s sweeping video installation Fordlandia (2014)Paul Chan’s 2nd Light (2006), and Toronto artist Adam David Brown’s ode to British painter John Constable, For the Time Being (July 29, 1822) (2014). Many things brought from one climate to another was concieved by Kitty Scott, the AGO’s Carol and Morton Rapp Curator, Modern and Contemporary Artand Adelina Vlas, Associate Curator, Contemporary Art, and assisted by Jon Davies, Assistant Curator, Contemporary Art.

A New Look: 1960s and ‘70s Abstract Painting at the AGO
Dec. 12, 2015 – March 27, 2016
In 1964, the AGO hosted influential American art critic Clement Greenberg's seminal exhibition, Post-Painterly Abstraction. That show championed the then emerging field of abstract painting and put Toronto at the forefront of contemporary art. Featuring 12 works from the AGO’s collection, A New Look revisits that moment in time with a selection of abstract works from the ‘60s and ‘70s, including Kenneth Lochhead’s Dark Green Centre (1963) — a work from the original 1964 exhibition. Curated by Kenneth Brummel, the AGO’s Assistant Curator of Modern Art, A New Look also features work by Jack Bush, Kenneth Noland, Morris Louis, Helen Frankenthaler, Gene Davis, and Frank StellaA New Look will be displayed in the Philip B. Lind Gallery. 

Drawing, Je T’aime: Selections from the AGO Vaults
Dec. 19, 2015 – April 3, 2016
Presenting a treasure trove of over 100 works on paper that spans Renaissance masterworks to contemporary Inuit art, Drawing, Je T’aime marks the first exhibition organized by the AGO’s new Print & Drawing Council. Working collaboratively, the Council, which is comprised of curatorial, conservation and programming staff, has brought together a selection of rarely seen works by artists including Jacopo Tintoretto, Edgar Degas, Henri Matisse, Robert Motherwell, Joyce Wieland and Annie Pootoogook; extraordinary sketchbooks by William Cruikshank, given to the AGO by the artist in 1909; and a series of vivid impressions of the Apollo 13 space voyage sketched by K.M. Graham in 1970. Council members share personal responses to individual works in accompanying texts. 

SuperReal: Pop Art from the AGO Collection
Jan. 16 – ongoing
The AGO houses an important cluster of Pop Art objects as a result of the vision of former curator Mario Amaya, the innovative acquisitions of the Women’s Committee in the 1960s and the generosity of key collectors. Featuring eight paintings and sculptures by leading Pop artists, including Andy Warhol, Jim Dine, Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist, SuperReal is curated by Kenneth Brummel, the AGO’s Assistant Curator of Modern Art. A highlight of the exhibition, which will be displayed in the Edmund G. Odette Gallery, will be the return of Claes Oldenburg’s famous Floor Burger (1962). This will be the first showing of the Oldenburg work at the AGO since its extensive restoration work in 2013 by the AGO’s conservation team. In addition, a selection of rarely seen works on paper by Pop artists will be exhibited in rotation in the adjoining Robert and Cheryl McEwan Gallery.

Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard
Jan. 30 – July 17, 2016
Transforming the AGO’s Signy Eaton Gallery into a series of corridors and small rooms reminiscent of Beijing’s traditional communal living spaces, the exhibition Song Dong’s Communal Courtyard invites visitors to lose themselves inside a unique installation of 100 vintage Chinese wardrobe doors. Evocative of the contemporary urban experience from Beijing to Toronto in which traditional architectures and ways of living together are threatened by rapid urban growth, this thoughtful, playful and materially rich installation — itself titled Wisdom of the Poor: Communal Courtyard — invites audiences to reconsider how we might hold onto some elements of tradition while radically reimagining them for the present. Song Dong is a Beijing-based multidisciplinary artist and leading figure within the Chinese avant-garde. Wisdom of the Poor: Communal Courtyard is a gift from the Martin Z. Margulies Foundation, Miami and will remain in the AGO’s collection. This exhibition is curated by Stephanie Smith, the AGO’s Chief Curator. To extend the conversation beyond the Gallery’s walls, the AGO will host an innovative community residency program. Community partners, artists and local organizations are invited to apply for one of five interactive residencies. The program, which will present projects that engage and respond to Song’s work, launches in tandem with the exhibition, with each residency running for three weeks. 


Drawing, Je T’aime: Selections from the AGO Vaults is generously supported by:

David G. Broadhurst
The Elliott Family, in memory of Betty Ann Elliott
The Art Gallery of Ontario Foundation Board of Directors

With a collection of more than 90,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002, Ken Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. Visit to learn more.

Oct. 31, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016:  J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

Mar. 12 – May 29, 2016:           Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s-1980s

July 2 – Sept. 11, 2016:            The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners. 


For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

Andrea-Jo Wilson; Senior Communications Officer 
416-979-6660, ext. 403, [email protected]

Caitlin Coull; Communications Manager
416-979-6660, ext. 364, [email protected]

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