16 June 2011

Art Gallery of Ontario AGO-GO

So further to this happening, Dexter is in the shop and getting all fixed up.  I'm still pretty bummed about it and feeling more than a little violated, but I'm taking my lumps and moving on.  Still cracks me up to imagine said backpack-thief rifling through it and getting nothing but sweaty gym socks and sticky Kleenexes (eeewwwww!)

Anyway, since my plans to report yesterday on the
Art Gallery of Ontario (or the AGO, if you want to get all short-form-y) were derailed by the break-in, I thought I'd come back to it today.  In short (form), the AGO was awesome.

No, that's not awesome enough.  Let's try again:

It was

Right ... so that's more like it.

I will be honest with you: I was an AGO virgin, and feeling badly about it.  We are what you would call mostly-regular patrons of cultural hotspots like the
museum (booo, Libeskind ... why'd you have to go a be all like that and wreck it?), the Science Centre and annual street festivals like Taste of the Danforth (yummm).  I love all of these places and events and notwithstanding any scheduling conflicts, we get to them as often as well possibly can.  In all this time (ie. my whole life), however, I've NEVER been to the AGO.  Wanted to go, yes.  For sure.  But never actually got there.  Until last night.

After my very first visit I can confidently say there is nothing -
NOTHING - not worth seeing at the AGO.  On the streets outside I saw a huge, Incredible Hulk-sized (and colored) sculpture that I think was made of onyx or marble.  I was going to take a picture but I was so excited that I forgot - and also I was late, owing to an unfortunate misunderstading between me and MapQuest.  Also outside the entrance: two dressmaker's forms that had been styled by art and fashion students from the Ontario College of Art and Design (whose campus is located just across the street from the Gallery) and some dude in white face paint strolling down the street in a blue kimono and a topknot, smoking a doobie.  Like I said, AWESOME.  And that was before I even walked in the front doors.

Inside, I suspect there's something for just about everyone.  We had time (and were there specifically) to see just one collection (of 7, plus 10
other exhibitions): The Europeans.  Leave it to a course called "Art History for Interior Decorators" to keep the focus on western civilization artwork :)  All kidding aside, even just the one exhibition was amazing and totally engrossing: I plan to go back on frequent Wednesdays this summer and hopefully round out the entire experience.

The architecture along of the building itself was enough to knock my socks off: the attention to detail is mind-boggling.  There wasn't any corner in any room that I visited - including the gift shop! - that wasn't a visual treat.  It was like being in a candy shop only instead of lollipops and Swedish berries, it was full of sweeping woodwork, graceful arches, soaring ceilings and gorgeous stone.

That analogy didn't make any sense, did it?

Anyhoo, since photography isn't allowed in the building (sad face), I had to settle for poaching photos of some of my favourite paintings off the net (the ones I could find).  Believe me when I tell you that these pics don't do the
actual artwork justice: they are a thousand times more beautiful in person.

My absolute favourite painting of the day
"The Marchesa Casati" by Augustus John, 1919
So ... like I said, the pictures don't do these paintings justice.  In person, she is stunning (not slightly clownish, as she looks in the photo).  Her hair glows.  Seriously ... GLOWS.  Also she looks like she's starting right through at you; she looks alive, actually.  She's gorgeous, and I stared at her for probably an inappropriate amount of time.

A close second in the competition for my affections
"The Death of Elaine" by Homer Watson, 1877
You won't believe me and you'll think I've gone off my nut, but the moon in this painting looks like an actual light.  It's just one element that makes it so lovely, but it's THE element that pulls you right in and keeps you there.

Admired this one a little too closely and was barked at by security to Step back, ma'am!
"Pont Boieldieu in Rouen, Rainy Weather" by Camille Pissarro, 1896
Actually looks like it's raining, and like the water is moving.  I'm not even making this up.

Va-va-va-voom (in a chaste, Renaissance sort of way)
"'I am so sick of shadows,' said the Lady of Shalott" by John William Waterhouse, 1915
This is such a romantic piece.  Yes, she's fully clothed and yes, there isn't anything specifically erotic or even provocative about this painting on the surface, but this lady is damn sexy.  She fairly lights up the canvas.

I want to go to this party
"The Peasants' Wedding" by Pieter Brueghel the Younger, 16th - 17th C.
My man Pieter had a serious sense of humour and both of his works that we ran across at the Gallery were totally, incredibly fun.  This dude just looked like he'd be a good time in person!  His other work, "Nine Netherlandish Proverbs" was absolutely hilarious ~ so much so that I googled what they were to see if my guesses were right!  They weren't.  Still love the painting, though, and his dad's work (Pieter Brueghel the - you guessed it - Elder) is equally as entertaining.

Um ... it's a Monet.
"Vetheuil in Summer" by Claude Monet, 1879
OK, so I'm about to open myself up to a whole lot of criticism and y'all may not want to be friends any more (which I don't like but have to accept) when I say that I don't like Monet.  At all.  Not even a little bit.  Ever.  I am totally prepared to admit this may not be entirely Monet's fault ~ Claude seems like a good enough guy and he certainly keeps a lovely garden.  It's totally possibly - maybe even likely - that I'm just not educated enough in the language or art to understand or appreciate him.  I'll accept that.  But as it stands I don't get him, I don't like him and I doubt I ever really will.  I know YOU probably do, though (seems like everyone but me does!) so I threw this photo in for your benefit.  He's there; just sayin.  You're welcome.

PS - This is painting is prettier in person.  Brighter and lighter: more pink, less blue.  Moving on.

You can't tell by the photo but this is made with actual gold.  It GLOWS.
"Vision of St. Benedict" by Giovanni del Biondo, 14th C.
I didn't understand until I saw this and a small collection of other religious paintings from the 14th century, exactly how beautiful gold leaf can be when applied in a painting.  Not to sound dramatic, but it took my breath away.
So those are the higlights as I saw them, though there were plenty others that I loved and wanted to share, I just couldn't find them online.  Maybe next time, having already seen it once, I won't get all Scattergory and will actually write some of the titles down of the artworks that I admire.  That'd be genius.  And of course, if none of these tickle your fancy, there are always the classics by Degas, Modigliani, van Gogh, Tissot (do you know him? I didn't, but an AGO volunteer said I should), Fragonard, Rodin, Cezanne, Gauguin, Renoir and Rubens .... you know.  The usual museum crowd ... :)

I highly recommend you (a)go.  Can you (a)go?  Seriously.  A(Go)!