Tickets for The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris go on sale June 17

AGO welcomes Steve Martin-curated exhibition to Toronto with a special Canada Day opening

TORONTO – As the leader of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris first rose to national prominence while living and painting in Toronto. This summer the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) welcomes his paintings home—following a critically acclaimed trip across the United States—with an exhibition that explores the relationship of Harris’ work to Toronto.

Curated by comedian, musician, actor and writer Steve Martin with Andrew Hunter, the AGO’s Fredrik S. Eaton Curator of Canadian Art, and Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs at the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles, The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris opens at the AGO on Canada Day: July 1, 2016. Tickets go on sale June 17, 2016.

The AGO’s installation, which is generously supported by Lead Sponsor RBC Capital Markets, features over 60 works by Lawren Harris, drawn from major public and private collections across Canada including the AGO, the Thomson Collection of Canadian Art at the AGO, the National Gallery of Canada and the McMichael Canadian Art Collection.

Charting Harris’s impact in Toronto, the exhibition opens with a selection of Harris’ early paintings from the 1910s, many of which depict the complex and culturally diverse Ward neighbourhood in Toronto, where he spent his formative years. Visitors will then see the core of the exhibition, a selection over 30 iconic northern landscape paintings that debuted earlier this year at the Hammer Museum and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts to rave reviews. The experience concludes with a series of new commissions by local contemporary artists Nina BunjevacJennifer Baichwal and Nick de Pencier, Tin Can Forest and Anique Jordan. These works, along with archival photos by Arthur Goss, highlight the impact of Harris’s landscapes on the city, and more broadly, on Canadian identity and our own idea of 'the north'.

“For Steve Martin, the paintings of Lawren Harris were an exciting discovery. We aim to offer that same experience for everyone, even those who are familiar with his work,” says Andrew Hunter. “The exhibition lets you look at one of Canada’s most beloved painters through an entirely new lens. By exploring Harris’s roots in the city of Toronto and its diverse populations, the exhibition shows his landscapes as a spiritually profound retreat from urbanism. For better and worse, these works continue to influence our vision of Canadian identity.”

Timed-entry tickets for The Idea of North are $16.50 for youth ages 17 and under, $21.50 for seniors and $25 for adults. Tickets are available for purchase online at, in person and over the phone. Admission is FREE for AGO members and for children five and under. AGO members have access to an exclusive preview before the exhibition opens to the public. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at

This summer, the AGO celebrates Lawren Harris with several special programming initiatives:

On June 22, 2016, the AGO partners with Roy Thomson Hall to present Steve Martin in conversation with Andrew Hunter. At this sold-out, one-night-only event, Martin will discuss his fascination with the work of Lawren Harris and his involvement in the exhibition.

In partnership with The National Ballet of Canada, the AGO will debut an innovative new commission, The Dreamers Ever Leave You, choreographed by the National Ballet of Canada’s own Robert Binet. Inspired by the work of Lawren Harris, Binet will create an immersive ballet capturing the dynamic forms and emotional themes of Harris’ paintings, evoking isolation, transcendence and mysticism. Performed by artists of the National Ballet inside a gallery space at the AGO, and accompanied by live music composed by Lubomyr Melnyk, the ballet will give the audience freedom to move through the space alongside the dancers. Performances run from Aug. 31 to Sept. 10, 2016. Priced at $45 for AGO Members and National Ballet subscribers and $55 for the public, tickets are available at

Additional programs and events throughout the summer will pay homage to the exhibition, including AGO First Thursdays, AGO Friday Nights, and an assortment of talks, themed menus at FRANK Restaurant and offerings at shopAGO. For more information about special programming offered in conjunction with the exhibition, visit and follow #HarrisAGO on Twitter and Instagram.

Lead Sponsor:

RBC Capital Markets 

Generously supported by: 
E. & G. Odette Foundation 
The Donald R. Sobey Family Foundation

Heffel Fine Art Auction House

The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris is co-organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, and curated by Steve Martin in collaboration with Cynthia Burlingham, Deputy Director of Curatorial Affairs, Hammer Museum and Andrew Hunter, Fredrik S. Eaton Curator, Canadian Art, Art Gallery of Ontario. First presented at The Hammer Museum and then at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the show includes Toronto-focused sections unique to the AGO that were curated by Andrew Hunter, in consultation with Steve Martin and Cynthia Burlingham.

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’s 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. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to learn more.

July 1 – Sept. 11, 2016: The Idea of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris

Oct. 22, 2016 – Jan. 29, 2017:  Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, Van Gogh and more

April 22 – July 30, 2017Georgia O’Keeffe

Sept. 30, 2017 – Jan. 7, 2018: Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters

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 McLoughlin; Senior Publicist, Holmes PR
416-628-5609, [email protected] 

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

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

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