At the Art Gallery : The Great Upheaval


You may recall me saying before that my friend Meghan is a member at Toronto’s major gallery, called the Art Gallery of Ontario, or the AGO for short. With membership comes the privilege of treating a guest to any of the travelling exhibits that come to the gallery, at no extra charge. And since we both share an interest in art, I have been lucky enough to see all that has come to Toronto in recent years, with her. It has been quite wonderful and I really appreciate being invited. We make great art buddies.

(This is not to say that I am her only friend with such good fortune, as her membership allows for as many visits as she wants, and working in the neighbourhood of the gallery, she goes fairly frequently and sees the special pieces multiple times.)


So last Tuesday we went to see the current exhibit, a collection of 70 paintings from the Guggenheim collection in New York, called The Great Upheaval. The works were all painted between the 8 year period from 1910 to 1918, by artists including Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Kandinsky, Modigliani and more, and represented creativity during a period of great upheaval in the world, due to the major technological changes that were happening at the time. You can read more about the collection here if you’d like.

By coincidence, as mentioned a few days ago (here) we watched the movie ‘The Titanic’ last Sunday, Nick for the first time and me for the third. The ship sank during this period, in 1912, and there was a Guggenheim family member, Benjamin, on it.

You probably recall the story that there weren’t enough life-boats for all of the 2,224 people on the ship, and the majority of the 700 survivors of the wreck were wealthy travelers, because they were put on the life boats first. So while we were at the AGO I mentioned that a Guggenheim was on the Titanic to Meghan, and we both concluded that he must have survived because he was a rich man. But now when I look it up, I see that he did in fact die in the disaster. I wonder what happened … did he give up his chance at survival to try and help the people remaining?

Anyway, it was Benjamin’s daughter, Peggy, who was only 14 at the time of her father’s death, who went on to be the first of the Guggenheim family to begin collecting art, during the mid 1920s. So some of the pieces we saw were very likely first bought by her, shortly after they had been painted. You can read this write-up about her interesting life, if you’re interested. I found it fascinating that for a period of time she had set herself a goal to buy a picture a day.

I don’t feel a desire to have lots of money in general, and am happy living with what I have, but if I did have funds to spare, I would love to collect art.

But I am getting a bit chatty here … all in all, the paintings in this exhibit, which closes on March 2nd, are really really amazing and I felt such exhilaration seeing them right in front of me. I highly recommend that any art lover in the city go and see them if you can. (I should warn you though, that the entry fee is $25 per adult … it does seem a bit expensive, but it does also include admission to the rest of the gallery too.)

We weren’t allowed to take photographs of those particular paintings, but photos of the permanent collection of the gallery are allowed. So the art you’re seeing in this post are some of those pieces.

But first I’ll show you this next shot, that was taken in the gift shop that you have no choice but go through after any of these special exhibits (that is separate from the regular gift shop.) I’m not clear on what the colourful candelabras had to do with the Great Upheaval though, but they looked pretty neat.




↑ We both loved this wall of empty frames, although we weren’t sure if they were just hanging there in a little nook off to the side, awaiting art to be added, or not. There was no sign with them. ↑



ago-lawren-s-harris art gallery of ontario


↑ These are by a member of the Group of Seven, Lawren Harris. ↑

While strolling around afterwards I discovered a new-to-me Canadian artist that I’ve become totally enchanted by. His name is William Kurelek and the paintings below are by him.





He was born in 1927 and died in 1977 at age 50 from cancer. It seems that he painted a lot in his short life, but it’s still such a shame that his career was cut short like that because he work is so good. I could examine all the little details for ages and love all the glimpses of Canada he has captured.


↑ that is just a small segment of a much larger piece. See what I mean about the little details? ↑

Here’s Meghan in front of some paintings by Aboriginal Canadian artist Norval Morrisseau.


And as we always do, we took a little walk along a new addition to the gallery, called Galleria Italia, which is a wooden and glass structure that was put onto the front of the old building. In the picture above taken outside of the sign for the exhibit (the second picture from the top of this post), I am standing directly below the spot that I am in in these two pictures.

[Aside : I wasn’t wearing black head-to-toe black even though it looks like I was … my sweater, a recent Christmas gift from Nick, is navy blue.]




↑ See the black curtains on the right? Those are what Meghan are standing in front of in the very top picture, which was taken from the other side. ↑

Here’s a wooden spiral staircase that is also part of the new-ish renovation.


And here is the back of the gallery. That is another spiral staircase you see. I got a picture of Nick standing inside on that staircase in this post, when we went to see the David Bowie exhibit in the fall.


Thanks for dropping over. Here’s wishing you a terrific Monday and a great week to follow. It is forecasted to be brutally cold here all week long. eep.
xo loulou