Work recently took me on a trip around the world. And while our schedule was incredibly tight, I still made time in each of three cities to visit a local museum. The first city on my trip was Toronto, Canada. I started my global museum adventure at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO). One of the reasons I chose to go to the AGO is that we had shot photography near the outside of the building a few days before. This is an old museum with a recent addition designed by Frank Gehry. The exterior winding staircase had me curious as to what it was like inside. Here's the outside staircase:
And here's what it looked like on the inside:
The closer you got, the more intriguing the staircase became.
It's not just the architecture that makes this building interesting. There are a number of works of art that made the visit enjoyable. It's always fun to find an exhibit that features an artist from the museum's native country, particularly when it's someone I'm not familiar with. In this case it was Canadian artist Iain Baxter&. No that's not a typo. In 2005 the artist legally added the ampersand to his name. My favorite works of his involved vacuum forming plastic around ordinary household items. These works from the 60s have a Pop-art vibe that feels true to the artist's later concerns for the environment. Here are Still Life with Six Colors and Still Life: Two Plastic Bottles (both 1965, acrylic on vacuum-formed plastic).
The "plastic" theme continued in the AGO's permanent collection of Modern and contemporary Art with a whimsical piece by Les Levine. Plug Assist #2 (1966, vacuum-formed Uvex) makes you want to vacuum form your entire house.
The surreal nature off this plastic work continued with Lynne Cohen's dreamy black and white photographs which feel like they come from another time and place. Dreamy imagery would prove to be a theme at this museum with a number of works that explored and provoked notions of memory. I love the strange reality of Flying School and Recording Studio (both 1989, gelatin silver print).
Younger (2004, pony beads, synthetic hair, aluminum hardware) is a scene from Kori Newkirk's childhood dreamily rendered in unexpected materials. I find myself thinking about memory a lot these days. This work adequately expresses the way my memories have blurred over time.
No one does dream-like images better than Gerhardt Richter. I can't figure out how he can make a blurry image seem so photo realistic. This is Scheune/Barn No. 549/1 (1983, oil on canvas).
My favorite work about the fleeting nature of memories was by an artist I've followed for some time. I've seen a number of Do-Ho Suh artworks in person but never one of his signature fabric structures. I was surprised to see one in Toronto. In response to a longing of familiar places of the past, Suh creates portable, fabric versions of living areas such as his childhood Korean home. 348 West 22nd St., Apt. A, New York, NY 10011 (Bathroom) (2003, nylon, silk fabric, steel framework) is a full-size replica of the bathroom in his New York apartment. The result is mesmerizing beauty.
There was more to see at the Art Gallery of Ontario but I'll save those stories for another post. However I can't end this post without one more photograph of Frank Gehry's beautiful addition.