Jean-Michel Basquiat at the AGO

This year, the Art Gallery of Ontario’s blockbuster exhibition is Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. I braved the cold and saw it last weekend. It was worth the trip.

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ABOVE: Jean-Michel Basquiat, The Death of Michael Stewart, 1983, acrylic and marker on wood,  25 x 30.5 inches, Collection of Nina Clemente.

BELOW: Jean-Michel Basquiat, Obnoxious Liberals, 1982, acrylic, oil stick and spray paint on canvas, 68 x 102 inches, The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Collection

Last Saturday was a typical winter’s day in Toronto; the weather was total shit. To escape the February blahs, I decided to take in the Art Gallery of Ontario’s (AGO) latest show Jean-Michel Basquiat: Now’s the Time. As it turned out, half the city was of the same mindset; the place was packed. Over-crowding aside, I’m glad I went.

A great deal of effort went into this exhibition (the AGO consulted with several members from Toronto’s black community) and it shows. The curation is informative but subtle, and it adds to the overall experience without detracting from the art on display.

As for the art, it is often confrontational, and it addresses key issues such as racism, authority and class struggle. Basquiat’s works are political, emotional and experiential, and there’s a ton of integrity within them. I say this because, even if his style isn’t to your taste, there is a lot to take away from this show. If his style is to your taste (it is to mine), then you’ll take away even more.

Basquiat: Now’s the Time is at the AGO until May 10, 2015. I suggest you go.

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Douglas Does Toronto

I recently visited the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art and the Royal Ontario Museum to see their Douglas Coupland exhibitions. Here is a quick review.

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ABOVE: Douglas Coupland, Permanent Press Landscape, 2011, acrylic on canvas, collection of Miriam Shiell Fine Art, as seen at the Museum on Contemporary Canadian Art

BELOW: Douglas Coupland, Slogans for the 21st Century, 2011-2014, prints on watercolour paper laminated onto aluminum, Courtesy of the Artist and Daniel Faria Gallery, as seen at the Royal Ontario Museum

If you live in Toronto, chances are you’ve come across the name Douglas Coupland in your travels. That’s because his art is everywhere this winter. Over the past two weekends, I took in two of his shows, one at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, the other at the Royal Ontario Museum. Here’s what I thought:

Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art – price $0 (I made a $5 donation)

Make no mistake, this is a distinctly Canadian show. Even more so, it’s distinctly rural. That’s okay. In fact, it’s pretty cool. From modern takes on old Canadian masters, to large scale installations, this was by far my favorite of the two venues.

Royal Ontario Museum – price $16 (I paid an extra $7 to see the Wildlife Photography Exhibition)

Unlike its sister show, the art here is more international – and urban – in scope. I liked a lot of what I saw, but I liked it more as a complement to the MOCCA show than I did as a stand alone exhibition.

Conclusion

Owing to a drastic shift in themes, it actually makes sense to put the work in two venues. Just make sure you visit both. To see only one, is to miss out on the bigger picture.

Links for Artists

Ah, the internet. It can be a time suck, but if used properly, it can be really informative too. For all you artists out there, here are some useful links.

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I found these useful. Hopefully, you will too:

Advice for Artists Seeking Representation

Top 10 Reasons Why Artists Fail with Social Media

Dos and Don’ts for Artist Websites

Five Tips for Getting into Juried Art Shows

How to Sell Your Art

33 Artists in 3 Acts (a review)

I love art, and I try to read every book I can find about it. A few year’s ago, I read 7 Days in the Art World. This past weekend, I finished 33 Artists in 3 Acts. Here is a short review.

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Sarah Thornton obviously has many connections in the art world, and owing to this, her latest offering 33 Artists in 3 Acts contains a who’s who of contemporary art – this is a very good thing.

As the title suggests, the book is broken into three cinematic acts: politics, kinship and craft. Throughout these acts, Thornton spends time with some of the planet’s most important living artists, and along the way, provides an inside glimpse into the artistic mind as it grapples with, and attempts to find its way in an extremely fickle art world.

Irrespective of fame, the time the author spends with each artist is recounted in a very casual and humanistic manner. No where is this more apparent than in the kinship section where Thornton hangs out with the family of artist couple Carroll Dunham and Laurie Simmons. Few art books address the family dynamic.

Make no mistake, Thornton is by no means a push over. Although most of the artists come across as likable, at times they seem overly full of themselves, or even arrogant. Be that as it may, this writer doesn’t lead by the hand, and the reader is left to formulate their own opinions.

If you liked 7 Days in the Art World, you’re gonna love 33 Artists in 3 Acts. If you’ve yet to read either, I highly suggest that you do.