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Art Gallery of Ontario: “Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh & more” (October 22 – January 29, 2017)

van-gogh-vincent_la-nuit-etoile-starry-night-over-the-rhone_1888

This fall, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) invites visitors to accompany some of the greatest artists of the 19th and 20th centuries on a spiritual journey of self-discovery. Organized in partnership with the renowned Musée d’Orsay in Paris, Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh and more breaks new ground by exploring the mystical experiences of 36 artists from 15 countries, including Emily Carr, Paul Gauguin, Vincent van Gogh, Vassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Claude Monet, Edvard Munch, Georgia O‘Keeffe and James McNeill Whistler. This major exhibition, which features close to 90 extraordinary paintings and 20 works on paper, debuts on Oct. 22, 2016 and runs to Jan. 29, 2017, before opening at the Musée d‘Orsay in the spring of 2017.

The years between 1880 and 1930 were marked by rampant materialism and rapid urbanization. Disillusioned with traditional religious institutions, many artists across Europe and North America searched for an unmediated spiritual path through mystical experiences. They conveyed their feelings of unity with nature and the cosmos in some of the most famous landscape paintings ever created. Gauguin found inspiration in the faith of peasants in rural Brittany; Monet sought solace from the First World War through hours of contemplation beside his waterlily pond at Giverny; and van Gogh looked for consolation in the starry skies over Arles.

Mystical Landscapes was conceived and developed by Katharine Lochnan, the AGO‘s senior curator of international exhibitions, together with guest curators Roald Nasgaard and Bogomila Welsh-Ovcharov, in addition to Guy Cogeval and Isabelle Morin Loutrel of the Musée d‘Orsay.

Over the five years it has taken to develop the exhibition, the AGO has been assisted by a multi-disciplinary advisory group drawn largely from senior faculty at the University of Toronto. Leading experts in the fields of theology, history, astrophysics, medicine and psychology have looked at nature mysticism and art through different lenses.

“These masterpieces convey experiences that cannot be put into words”, says Lochnan. The feeling of connecting with a deeper reality—a power much greater than ourselves—is a mystical experience. These experiences may reach any of us through the contemplation of nature and the cosmos. We are moved by the beauty of sunrise and sunset, the stars in the night sky, the reflections of the moon on lakes, the power of the ocean waves and the vision of snow-capped mountains. These paintings convey the artists “mystical experiences of something greater than themselves. It is primarily through the contemplation of nature that they have seen with greater clarity.”

Mystical Landscapes will take visitors on a journey through Europe, Scandinavia and North America, beginning on a path through the woods and ending with a view of outer space from a mountain top.

Highlights of the exhibition include:

Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night over the Rhone at Arles from 1888, which prompted him to write about feeling ―a tremendous need of —shall I say the word—religion…so I go outside at night to paint the stars‖;

Paul Gauguin’s vivid Vision after the Sermon (Jacob Wrestling with the Angel) from 1888, painted during his sojourn in rural Brittany;

Claude Monet’s Water Lilies (Nymphéas) from 1907, which he painted after hours of Zen-like meditation beside his Japanese water garden;

Edvard Munch’s The Sun, created to inspire students in the wake of his well-publicized nervous breakdown between 1910-1913;

Georgia O’Keeffe’s Series I – from the Plains from 1919, showing the terrifying power of an approaching thunderstorm in Texas;

A series of mystical lithographs by the recently rediscovered French artist Charles-Marie Dulac, which illustrates St. Francis of Assisi‘s Canticle of Creation.

“We have been given extraordinary support for this project from institutions around the world,” says Lochnan. “Many of the loans are ‘magnets’ in their home museums and are very seldom lent. This unprecedented level of generosity reflects the very genuine excitement and commitment to the ideas explored in this exhibition which have never been fully addressed through art historical research.”

Lenders include the Musée d‘Orsay; Tate Britain; National Gallery of Canada; National Gallery of Scotland; National Museum, Stockholm; National Gallery, Oslo; National Gallery, Prague; Leopold Museum, Vienna; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; and many other institutions worldwide.

After stepping through its doors, visitors to the exhibition will feel an immediate sense of escape from the world outside. While designing the in-gallery experience, AGO Senior Interpretive Planner David Wistow has carefully considered ways to help audiences draw their own emotional connections to the art works. “We welcome people to contemplate the role of spirituality in their own lives, and their connection to a deeper reality,” says Wistow.   The artists’ mystical journeys prompt us to ask our own questions of, ‘Who are we, and why are we here?'”.

An illustrated catalogue will accompany this exhibition—one of the most ambitious publications in the AGO‘s history—and will be available in English and French. Featuring essays by 19 scholars and curators from across Europe and North America, including those who served in an advisory capacity, it will be for sale in shopAGO.

AGO members receive free admission to this time-ticketed exhibition. More information on the benefits of AGO membership can be found at http://www.ago.net/general-membership.

Mystical Landscapes: Masterpieces from Monet, van Gogh and more is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and the Etablissement public du musée d‘Orsay et du musée de l‘Orangerie, Paris.

http://www.ago.net

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J. M. W. Turner: ‘Painting Set Free’ (October 31, 2015 – January 31, 2016) at the Art Gallery of Ontario

This fall the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) will host a major exhibition celebrating the experimental and contemplative works of Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775–1851), a giant of British art. Opening on Oct. 31, 2015, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free features more than 50 large-scale paintings and watercolours on loan from Tate Britain and makes the case that the radical works created in the final 15 years of Turner’s career, with their arresting use of light, represent a fulfilment of the artist’s upward trajectory.

Fiercely driven and radically experimental, Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) was a giant in the history of British art. Praised by critics across the U.K. as ―an exciting, entrancing show‖ (The Guardian) and ―sensational‖ (London Evening Standard), the acclaimed exhibition J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free opens in Toronto at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) on Oct. 31, 2016. Featuring more than 50 paintings and watercolours on loan from Tate Britain, the exhibition focuses on the artist’s later works, famous for their rich colour, textures and arresting use of light. Timed-entry tickets for J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free at the AGO go on sale Oct. 16, 2015. The exhibition is celebrated by the launch of the AGO’s permanent new hours of operation, featuring extended Friday nights with special Turner-themed programming throughout November.

Coordinated by Lloyd DeWitt, AGO Curator of European Art, J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free shows how Turner’s final years were a time of exceptional vigour, as he continued pushing the boundaries of his artistic practice while travelling across Europe to capture increasingly dramatic landscapes on canvas. Challenging the myths, assumptions and interpretations that have grown around Turner’s later works, the exhibition is organized thematically and takes a focused look at his travels, his fascination with classical history, religion and mythology, his love of the sea, and his preoccupation with atmosphere and light.

J.M.W. Turner is the best known British artist, but here are few fascinating facts you might not know:

•In the later years of his career his art became more radical and experimental, incorporating unusual materials like tobacco juice and stale beer, and was derided by conservative critics for his unconventional methods

•He did some pretty drastic things for his art, like having sailors tie him to the mast of a boat during a major winter storm to “experience the drama” of the elements during a storm at sea

•He wore wooden dentures and drank up to eight pints of rum a day

•His father lived with him for 30 years, serving as his assistant and mixing paints

Art Gallery Of Ontario

317 Dundas St. W | Toronto, ON | CANADA | M5T 1G4 | http://www.ago.net