Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Missing paintings at the AGO - a poll

I decided that the last post was just too much of a downer and I wanted to put up something else, though it could be taken as a passive-aggressive attack on the AGO, which isn't precisely my point.

Most people realize that museums don't put all their paintings on display, but what isn't as commonly known is that it generally is only 5-10% of the collection that is actually on display.  Some museums are a bit more conservative in terms of what is on view and what is in storage.  The public basically expects to see key paintings and is going to be fairly disappointed if they are no longer on view.  Other museums rotate a bit more frequently.  My interpretation of the way the AGO works is that they have a few galleries that hardly ever change, esp. the one with all the paintings crammed together on the 2nd floor.  Since the remodeling, they seem to be pretty much stuck in leaving the model ships in the basement, as well as rotating within the Thomson collection on the 2nd floor.  Given that the 4th and 5th floors are given over to contemporary art, this leaves them with only a tiny area to actually change things up.  This article goes into the storage aspect and discusses the dilemma of taking popular works out of circulation.  I'm probably not quite as sympathetic as I should be, or I find what they have chosen to put on view doesn't really measure up (in some cases) to what is in storage.

Here are some paintings that I feel ought to be put back in circulation.  Most, but not all, are in the recent Highlights of the AGO book, and to my way of thinking, people will be somewhat disappointed if they can't see the paintings that the AGO itself claims are its highlights.  It is of course possible that one or two of these are actually on view, but I don't believe so, since I have visited only last weekend.  (Also, the AGO has perhaps the worst digital presence of any major museum I've come across.  You cannot search their collection on-line at least not in a straight-forward way, and obviously there is no way to tell which paintings are on view, which is increasingly common on museum websites.  I can only hope this is something they are working on, since it is a very major failing on their part.)

If I can manage it, I will put a poll in this post and at the end of summer, I will supply the results to the AGO management.

Here are the entries: 

James Tissot, The Shop Girl, 1885

Paul Cezanne, Interior of a Forest, 1885

Edouard Vuillard, The Widow's Visit, 1898

Marc Chagall, Over Vitebsk, 1914

Wassily Kandinsky, Grey Circle, 1923

Joan Miro, Untitled, 1926

Yves Tanguy, The Satin Pillow, 1929

Lawren Harris, Grounded Icebergs, ca. 1931

Henri Matisse, Ivy Branch, 1941

Franz Kline, Cupola, 1960

Mark Rothko, No. 1, White and Red, 1962

Mary Pratt, The Service Station, 1978

Jeff Wall, The Goat, 1989

Ta-daa the poll.  Please vote for your favorite (only one vote per visitor).  Or if it isn't actually your favorite, the painting (or photograph) you feel most ought to come out of storage and be displayed.

Some quick house-keeping.  The poll will only work in the web-version of the blog, not a mobile version, so you may have to switch over (if that is an option) if reading on your phone (sorry!).  Also, it takes a minute or so for the votes to be recorded, and then you have to refresh the page to see your vote.

Please note that I plan to close this poll down on August 29.

(Unfortunately, in order to pin this post and the poll, I have to monkey around with the post date.  It was actually posted July 14.  Sorry about that.)

Here are the final results.  While this post got an unbelievable number of views, essentially no one voted on it, probably because the poll didn't work on mobile phones.  Certainly something to keep in mind for the future.  As mentioned elsewhere, the AGO has rehung The Widow's Visit, and Grounded Icebergs was actually part of The Idea of North exhibit (only in Toronto).

Edit (4/10/2017): I read an interesting article in the Star today about how the permanent collection will be shaken up and more art from the vaults will be brought up.  (I definitely hope that they will be using a few rooms, particularly the corner galleries, better.)  It sounds like the Kline will be back on view.  The Chagall became part of the Mystical Landscapes exhibit, so it is probably off to the Musee d'Orsay now.  Anyway, I should head over to see the rehung paintings soon, but also to check out the Georgia O'Keeffe exhibit.  Depending on the weather, I might be able to bike over this Friday, and then plan to take the kids on April 22.

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