Sunday, 27 November 2011

Chagall at the AGO

 Last week I embarked on a little adventure with a couple of girlfriends. We took the GO bus to Toronto and went to the Art Gallery of Ontario. Footloose and fancy free in the big city.... Woohoo!

 The aim was to see the current exhibition of paintings by Marc Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde, on loan from Le Centre Pompidou, Paris.
I had seen the twelve magnificent stained glass windows that Chagall had designed for the Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem when I was there a few years ago, so I was interested to see his paintings too.

Chagall's "Blue Circus".“For me, a circus is a magic show that appears and disappears like a world. A circus is disturbing. It is profound.”
“I can still see in Vitebsk, my hometown, in a poor street with only three or four spectators, a man performing with a little boy and a little girl. Clowns, bareback riders and acrobats have made themselves at home in my visions. Why? Why am I so touched by their makeup and their grimaces? With them I can move toward new horizons. Lured by their colours and makeup, I dream of painting new psychic distortions. Alas, in my lifetime I have seen a grotesque circus: a man [Hitler] roared to terrify the world.”
“I wish I could hide all these troubling thoughts and feelings in the opulent tail of a circus horse and run after it, like a clown, begging for mercy, begging to chase the sadness from the world.”   
— Marc Chagall, 1966

The exhibition followed how Chagall’s Russian heritage influenced his art, and even though he spent much of his life in France, and even lived in the USA during WW2, his painting style reflected his Russian roots. There were 32 works by Chagall and eight works by Kandinsky. After seeing the Chagall exhibit, we wandered around a maze of more galleries, eventually finding ourselves in the Galleria Italia, designed by Toronto-born architect Frenk Gehry.
The Galleria Italia was part of Gehry's 2008 revitalisation of the AGO and is a glass and wood facade that spans 180m (590') along Dundas Street It was named in recognition of a $13million contribution by 26 Italian-Canadian families of Toronto. Stunning!

There's so much more to see at the AGO. I can see another visit in my future.


  1. Thank you for visiting Green Tomato and leaving your nice comment.You and your friend had an exciting trip to Toront with the masterpieces of Chagall.I am interested in bue stained glass windows he designed.Chagall の展覧会には何度か行った事ありますが、ステンドグラスはまだ見たことありません。いつか行って見たいです!Thank you!
    RedRose from Japan.

  2. Fascinating exhibits. Thanks for the Chagall history. There was so much pain in his explanation.

  3. Well, I got excited there for a second. My eyes landed on "Chagall" and "AGO," and it momentarily registered in my head as "Chicago!" I thought you were coming down here for a visit!

    Having lived in Chicago for 40 years, there are a lot of fond memories there. These days, I try to avoid making trips to the city because it is so incredibly congested and expensive. But if you passed through, I would make an exception and brave the traffic. :-)

  4. Craver: I've been to Chicago twice and I missed you both times!

  5. Like you Shammickite, I like to visit art galleries and museums. That AGO gallery looks very impressive - Dave

  6. The Chagall/Kandinsky exhibit sounds quite fantastic! Many Many MANY years ago when I visited Toronto, I was so impressed with the ART Scene there...Many WONDERFUL Galleries, with very high quality Artists being shown....This was in the late
    1960's. Now, it sounds like a Major Art Center in every way....I hope you will share your next visits to The Museum, whenever that may be.

  7. Wow!
    It's been some time since I last visited AGO. The new addition looks spectacular. Now I have to visit again..!

  8. i love museums. i have memberships to 2 of them here in SF, but i have to admit, that after about 1.5 hours in one, I'm overwhelmed with sensory overload. But I love going back over and over again to take in the artwork that I didn't get to see before and to revisit some of my favorite pieces.

  9. Oh, my goodness goodness's time for me to get up there and drink in all the old and new wonders of AGO. Frank Gehry is a native of Toronto?
    When Peg & Henry took their youngest, then about 5 or 6, to Skiathos for a vacation in the warm sun and sea and fabulous fresh veggies, the poor little Scot's chin was quivering on their last day.
    "What's wrong?"
    "I want to live here and be a GREEK boy!!"

    Well, I want to be a Toronto girl! I mean, have you looked at the art classes the AGO offers? OMG.....
    And who knew Chagall did stained glass? Pas de moi....except you saw those in Jerusalem, not the AGO? Hm....Signed, Hick from the Sticks


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