We visited Toronto last week. It is perhaps my favorite Canadian city visited so far because of the art and culture, but also for the ladies who wear big hair and makeup.Â Yup, that’s right. I just love people who wear makeup. Living in Victoria for last 36 years is a life in granola-paradise, but now and again, I like to see some false eyelashes, and hair sprit zed to the max.
Toronto in April 2010, view from c5 restaurant (ROM) overlooking Liza's Garden
Our trip to the centre of the universe was initiated by friends who produce The Spirit of Toronto (a whisky festival). I had never been off the tarmac or out of our hotel room in Toronto before, so this trip signaled my first opportunity to visit to the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Royal Ontario Museum and The Gardiner Museum.
The Art Gallery of Ontario
Art Gallery of Ontario MusÃ©e des beaux-arts de l’Ontario
317 Dundas Street West Toronto Ontario Canada M5T 1G4 Â Toll free: 1-877-225-4246 Â Local: 416 979 6648
It is probably the most impressive art collection in Ontario thanks to the world-renowned Thomson Collection given to the gallery in 2003. I had never seen all of the Group of Seven plus Emily Carr paintings in one area before, and the display gives a clear idea of what each artist’s personality was like. I never really cared for Tom Thomson’s work until now. His many different varieties of colour and form in this exhibit changed my mind. I took an instant like to Varley and Carmichael. Lawren Harris’s Lake and Mountains is probably most memorable painting because of it’s placement upon entering the gallery space. It certainly was the most talked about among friends and family who remembered it from their visits.
Lawren S. Harris Canadian 1885-1970 Lake and Mountains 1928 oil on canvas 130.8 x 160.7 cm Gift from the Fund of the T. Eaton Co. Ltd. for Canadian Works of Art, 1948 Â© 2001: Art Gallery of Ontario
It’s a little known fact I can spot an Emily Carr painting at thousand paces. I’m sure lots of people can, but she holds a special place in my heart for her desire to be an independent, respected, and confident woman. Emily’s description in her books of the supercilious rabble that existed during her time makes me chuckle to think what her reaction would be to the consideration and custody of her works and possessions today.
My favourite Emily Carr painting has always been Indian Church (for many complicated reasons I won’t get into here) and it was a personal, rarefied moment to view it up close.
Emily Carr (Canadian, 1871–1945) Indian Church 1929 oil on canvas 108.6 x 68.9 cm Art Gallery of Ontario, Bequest of Charles S. Band 1970 Â© 2007 Art Gallery of Ontario
Another rarified moment is to see a portrait by Emily Carr, the AGO has this one in the house.
Emily Carr (Canadian, 1871–1945) Portrait of Shirley Bennett date unknown oil on paper on panel 91.4 x 59.1 cm Art Gallery of Ontario, Gift of Mrs. Jules Loeb, Toronto, 1976; donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation 1988 Â© 2007 Art Gallery of Ontario
Amongst the other celebrated works of art represented were Rubens, Frans Hals, Rembrandt, Degas, Cezanne, Gaugin, Picasso, Monet, Henry Moore, Paul Peel, and Ship Models.
Personal Highlights included:
A Portrait of Bella and Lolita (our own hometown professional basketball player Steve Nash’s daughters by Julien Schnabel (photo not available). You have to imagine it, but it was big, lots of blue, glossy and the two girls intertwined looking a bit like the freaky girls from the movie, The Shining.
Cornelius Krieghoff’s scenes resonate with me because of his use and colours of the Canadian maple leaf.
Cornelius Krieghoff born Amsterdam, The Netherlands, 1815; died Chicago, Illinois, United States, 1872 Duck Shooting 1856 oil on canvas 33.4 x 46.1 cm The Thomson Collection Â© Art Gallery of Ontario
A representation of the roles women have played in the making of art over the last 400 years.
Love this too.
EugÃ¨ne Louis Boudin born Honfleur, France, 1824; died Deauville, France, 1898 Beach Near Trouville 1864 oil on canvas 67.5 x 104.0 cm Anonymous Gift, 1991
Paul Peel, After the Bath (detail), 1890, oil on canvas. gift of the Government of the Province of Ontario, 1972. Â© 2006 Art Gallery of Ontario
My favourite in the whole gallery (which made me feel in good company with the marketing department because they used the painting on the cover of the AGO Collection highlights book).
- Augustus Edwin John (British, 1878 – 1961) The Marchesa Casati 1919 oil on canvas 96.5 x 68.6cm Art Gallery of Ontario, Purchase 1934 Â© 2009 Art Gallery of Ontario
Otto Dix (German, 1891-1969) Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann, 1922 oil on canvas 90.8 x 61.0 cm Anonymous gift, 1969; donated by the Ontario Heritage Foundation, 1988 Â© 2004 Art Gallery of Ontario
David Milne born near Burgoyne, Ontario, 1882; died Bancroft, Ontario, 1953 Winter Sky 1 January 1935 oil on canvas 30.5 x 41.3 cm The Thomson Collection Â© Art Gallery of Ontario
Wangechi Mutu: This is What You Call Civilization?
Until May 23, 2010
Wangechi Mutu: This is What You Call Civilization?
Wangechi Mutu’s work at the Ago was wonderful and a treat to see more of her works concurrently showing at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s Visceral Bodies (February 06 to May 16, 2010) presented in conjunction with Leonard da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man. To read a review of the Visceral Bodies exhibit read John Luna’s essay @exhibit_v about his experience.
Wangechi Mutu boldly explores the contradictions of female and cultural identity, drawing the viewer into conversations about beauty, consumerism, colonialism, race, and gender. Her representations of the human form are disturbing and transfixing, at once utterly complex and strikingly direct.
Overall, 4 hours wasn’t enough time to drink from the fountain of what the AGO had to offer. I highly recommend visiting this art gallery to get a true sense of the champions of Canadian art, plus other splendid artists from around the world.
The Royal Ontario Museum (ROM)
100 Queen’s Park
This museum has a wonderful display of ancient world cultures, changing exhibitions on East Asia, showcasing the broad scope and diversity of the ROM’s collection of Chinese, Japanese and Korean artifacts. Other themes ranging the development of contemporary First Peoples’ art, early Canadiana, wall paintings from the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1271 – 1368), Buddhist sculptures, the Canadian Mining Hall of Fame Gallery, large fossil skeletons, Cypriot artifacts and more.
Some of my highlights include:
Rex Woods, Artwork for Canadian Home Journal
Marie-oe Persillier dite Lachapelle (nee Toupin)
Attributed to Jean-Baptiste Roy-Audy (Quebec, 1778-c.1845). Oil on Canvas c. 1834
Nelson Cook (American, 1808-1892), Oil on Canvas, 1832
- Migration, Norval Morrisseau, Anishnawbek, Acrylic on Canvas, 1973
Navjot Altaf (b.1949), Mumbai, India, Teak, metal, indio, 2002
Wedgwood: Artistry and Innovation Until August 29, 2010 Classic design and changing styles are featured in this beautiful exhibition of nearly 100 of the finest Wedgwood wares in Canada.
Dan Perjovschi: Institute for Contemporary Culture Until August 15, 2010 Having drawn on the walls of museums around the world, Dan Perjovschi's visit to Toronto filled the Roloff Beny Gallery with his satirical political cartoons recognized for their unique style and insightful commentary.
The Gardiner Museum
111 Queen’s Park, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S 2C7
Tel +1 416.586.8080
Fax +1 416.586.8085
The Gardiner Museum
Although right across the street from the Royal Ontario Museum, this is an unlikely place to visit unless you are a collector of porcelain and ceramic art and artifacts. You should go even if you don’t like ceramics.I was travelling with one of those collector-types, but first heard about the museum through a personal family connection to George Gardiner. He used to be in business with my husbands’ grandfather, making their legendary reputation all that more real through viewing the priceless antiquities the Gardiners’ collected.
The museum hosts Modern and Contemporary Ceramics, Ancient Americas, Italian Renaissance Maiolica, English Delfware, and lots of Porcelain. It’s a pity that no photos were allowed, but here are some highlights from photos from their website.
Bowl with battle scenes
Bowl with battle scenes
Description A very fine and important early Du Paquier Vienna bowl, superbly painted with continuous battle scenes in schwarzlot and gold, depicting the Austrians and Turks. The inside of the bowl painted with battle trophies. Gilt rim. Decorated by Bottengruber.
Materials Hard-paste porcelain, overglaze black enamel (Schwarzlot) and gold
Date c. 1725-30; decorated in Breslau or Vienna, c.1730
Child dresses as Harlequine
Child dressed as Harlequine
Description A nice Derby Columbine with chequered bodice and striped skirt. The bodice in colours of iron red, green, yellow, turquoise and purple. The skirt white with iron red, green and puce stripes. Neck and end of bate restored.
Materials Plombian (glassy) soft-paste porcelain, overglaze enamels and gold
Date c. 1765-70
The Spirit of Toronto
And finally a note about whisky festival we went to called The Spirit of Toronto
. Held annually at Roy Thomson Hall, here’s a list of the Masterclasses I attended, tasting notes to appear later.
The Balvenie 17 year old
Islay’s Gentle Giants
Yamazaki: The Art of Japanese Whisky
Mary Ann Alabaster, The Artist’s Painting Room Mary Ann Rebecca Alabaster (British, 1805-1880) The Artist’s Painting-Room 1830 oil on canvas 84.5 x 70.4 cm Art Gallery of Ontario, Promised gift from Carol and Morton Rapp. Â© 2009 Art Gallery of Ontario