My Favorite Artworks in the AGO

While it can’t compete with the likes of MOMA or Tate Modern, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) has plenty to offer. Here are ten of my favorite pieces – in no particular order.

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ABOVE: Chuck Close, Kent, 1970-71, acrylic on canvas, 100 x 90 inches, Art Gallery of Ontario, Photo: © Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto [2014]

From Henry Moore to the Group of Seven, the AGO has more than enough to make a top ten list a daunting task. After much deliberation, here is mine:

Christi Belcourt, The Wisdom of the Universe

Beautiful and intricate. Belcourt is a skilled artist working in a post skill art world. No blank canvases here.

Evan Penny, Stretch #1

This thing is just plain cool. Basically, it’s Chuck Close on acid – not that I’d have any idea what that’d look like.

Jean-Paul Riopelle, Chevreuse II

Canada’s answer to Jackson Pollock – minus the alcoholism and spousal abuse – Riopelle’s Chevreuse II is a chaotic tour de force.

Kent Monkman, The Academy

Smart, vibrant…and big; new school meets old school in one of the AGO’s finest contemporary pieces.

Simon Starling, Infestation Piece (Musseled Moore)

Recreate a Moore, dump it in Lake Ontario, pull it up a year later, then put it on display covered in zebra mussels. Sterling gets an A for originality alone.

David Altmejd, The Index

Altmejd killed it in Venice with this sculpture. My girlfriend doesn’t like it very much; I love it very much.

Otto Dix, Portrait of Dr. Heinrich Stadelmann

Creepy as shit; Dix’s portrait shrinks the shrink. A weird painting by a seriously weird dude.

Chuck Close, Kent

Photorealism often gets a bad rep. That said, Chuck Close is the shit. Period. Full stop.

Peter Paul Rubens, The Massacre of the Innocents

Brighten your day with this wonderful depiction of slaughtered babies. When put like that, it doesn’t sound like much of a draw, but trust me, it is.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Crucified Christ (corpus)

Of all the AGO’s crucifixes – and there are a lot of them – Bernini’s is arguably the best. No small feat.

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