Way to Go, AGO!
Two recent announcements by the Art Gallery of Ontario have set the Toronto art scene buzzing.
First, one of Canada’s (if not the world’s) smartest and most committed collectors of contemporary art, Dr. Ydessa Hendeles, has made a substantial gift of 32 Canadian and international contemporary artworks to the AGO. This represents the most significant single gift of contemporary art in the AGO's 110-year history.
Kim Adams, Ian Carr-Harris, Max Dean, Betty Goodwin, Liz Magor, Ken Lum, Ron Martin, John McEwen and Ian Wallace are the Canadian artists included in the donation. The Hendeles gift also adds to the AGO's contemporary collection the first works by international artists James Coleman, Gary Hill (pictured),Thomas Schütte, Bill Viola and Krzysztof Wodiczko, and augments the Gallery's holdings by Giulio Paolini. Plans are already underway to exhibit works from the Hendeles donation within the next 18 months.
The daughter of parents who survived the Holocaust, Hendeles came to Canada as a child after World War II. Her extraordinary career has encompassed art historian, gallerist, philanthropist, and artist-curator. Hendeles also founded the Toronto-based Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, the first privately funded exhibition space for contemporary art in Canada. (It is also Art Metropole Director Ann Dean’s favourite place to look at art in the city.)
Second, the AGO will be the location of the first North American museum retrospective on the work of Nairobi-born, New York-based Wangechi Mutu, who burst onto the art world stage in the early 2000s with painting and collage works that manage to be beautiful and disturbing at the same time. Most recognized for her collages that reconfigure the lithe and idealized body parts of models cut from fashion magazines, Mutu’s art is incisive in its critique of female body, as well as racial, issues. She also displays a talent for contrasting and layering textures and tones that require viewers to spend time with the work in order to appreciate the intricacies. The AGO’s retrospective, titled “This You Call Civilization?“ opens on February 24 and runs until May 23, and brings together a comprehensive selection of works from international collections.