The Art Gallery of Ontario has unveiled a stunning new exhibition with nearly 70 original works of art from the Guggenheim Collection in New York. The Great Upheaval: Modern Masterpieces focuses on the period from 1910 to 1918, an explosive time in the history of modern art.
The collection explores a time when many artists like Modigliani, Kandinsky, Picasso, Chagall and Matisse experimented with new forms of art and artistic innovation. At the same time, the world witnessed a movement of political tension with the First World War. Artists across Europe formed movements and art groups realizing that strength in numbers gave way to the attention needed for their work. That attention, whether good or bad, laid the groundwork for the avant-garde movement.
The exhibition is chronologically displayed and includes Picasso’s le Moulin de la Galette from 1900; Kandinsky’s Blue Mountain from 1908-1909; Franz Marc’s Yellow Cow from 1911; Matisse’s radical The Italian Woman from 1916.
At the media preview, I had a chance to sit down with Tracey Bashkoff, Guggenheim Museum’s Senior Curator spoke about one of her favourite pieces in this collection. She’s been working with the Guggenheim for 20 years. “It’s hard to pick favourites…they are like old friends or it’s like choosing a favourite child!” she said with a laugh. “There are definitely a few pieces that I gladly embrace. Yellow Cow by Franz Marc is such a joyous painting with the large cow frolicking in the foreground. The colours are brilliant and not at all realistic and this was one of the first step down the road to abstraction such artists — using colour in a way that were not purely descriptive of the object they are painting. The artists uses the colours in away to describe something else or an emotion of the what the painter was feeling or the subject matter. This painting is often thought of as a wedding portrait which sounds crazy… not that he thought his wife was a cow.”
“The colours are brilliant and not at all realistic and this was one of the first step down the road to abstraction such artists.”
“The artists of the ‘Great Upheaval’ were game-changers who created new forms of artistic expressions in the face of turmoil and rapid innovation,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “This prominent collection from the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation presents a rare opportunity for our visitors to immerse themselves in a time of bold experimentation and to experience the works of the century’s greatest artists.”
The Great Upheaval is a timed-entry and ticketed exhibition. This is the only Canadian stop and is at the Art Gallery of Ontario until March 2, 2014.
The AGO will also offer a series of talks and events that are notably from the period of 1910-1918, when telephones appeared, news was becoming instantaneous, the tango was all the range, and tanks, parachutes, x-rays and mustard gas had ben invented. Beginning January 15, 2014, the AGO will be offering free weekly tango lessons. The AGO will also be screening early abstract art films in Jackman Hall. Special events will offer insight from field specialists exploring the arts and culture of the time.
For more information and to book tickets to the exhibition or events, visit www.ago.net