Art : Two New Exhibits at the AGO in 2020 – Illusions: The Art of Magic and Diane Arbus Photography

*** Update : After being closed for 3 1/2 months (due to the coronavirus, for readers in the future), the AGO will reopen on July 2, 2020. These two wonderful shows will now run until November 8th, and the Picasso and Warhol exhibitions that were scheduled for this fall/winter season will now take place next year.



Not only do we have a wonderful permanent collection at the Art Gallery of Ontario, but the organizers and curators also consistently impress with the variety and quality of the special temporary shows they present. These two new exhibitions, opening this Saturday, join the list of excellence.

Illusions : The Art of MagicFebruary 22 to May 18, 2020

Featuring more than 55 colourful posters, as well as photographs, films, documents and ephemera, visitors will be transported back in time to the Golden Age of Magic, when death-defying tricks and daring escapes turned performers like The Incomparable Albini and Harry Houdini into world-famous celebrities.

Dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, these posters give insight into what was a dominant form of entertainment at the time. As these pieces of advertisement would have been torn down after each show, any that survived undamaged, as the ones on display have, would be very rare indeed.

Toronto was a popular stop for these first ever touring performers, so our streets would have, at one time, been adorned with these elaborate artworks.

The posters are part of the Allan Slaight Collection, graciously loaned by the McCord Museum in Montreal.

Note to parents of younger kids : Some of the posters contain content that may frighten small children who don’t yet understand the meaning of the word “illusion”. Put more plainly, “beheading” a person was a popular trick at the time and was clearly depicted on posters, and images of ghosts, skeletons and devils were commonly used.

↑ Visitors will have an opportunity to make their own magic posters. ↑

As an added bonus, accompanying the show will be daily Magic Shows performed by magicians from The Toronto Magic Company. Find the schedule here.

Diane Arbus : Photographs 1956 – 1971February 22 to May 18, 2020

Legendary American photographer Diane Arbus (1923–1971) revolutionized portraiture through her range of subjects and her style. Primarily made in and around New York City, Arbus’ photographs include portraits of couples, children, nudists, suburban families, circus performers, and celebrities, among others.

The first thing you’ll encounter upon entering the exhibit space is a quote written on the wall, stating, “I really believe there are things that nobody would see unless I photographed them.”

Thanks to the generosity of a small group of donors, in 2016 the AGO acquired 522 works, the world’s second largest collection of Arbus photographs. This exhibition of 150 of those pieces, presented chronologically, gives visitors the opportunity to view what the artist strove to have the world see.

Photography is not permitted, however, the gallery has a selection of photos included in the exhibit on their website here.

The show was organized by The AGO and will go on to Montreal, Vancouver and Calgary.

Also, looking toward summer, here is an early look at the exciting show coming to the gallery in June — it’s a major exhibition of Picasso paintings! — “Picasso, Painting the Blue Period”. I can’t wait. You can read about it here.

Did you know that temporary exhibits (and all the other art at the AGO) are free to anyone aged 25 and under? Others can purchase an annual pass for $35 and see as much art as they want during the following 12 months. In other words, you can buy your pass anytime during the year and it will last for the 12 months after that. Of course, single visit tickets are available, too.

Thank you for reading, xo loulou