Ontario & the Arts

Last week, I wrote about global museum attendance. This week, I’m going to look at some more art numbers – specifically, as they pertain to Ontario.


ABOVE: Installation view of Douglas Coupland’s recent exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum (Toronto)

In September 2011, The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) commissioned the Ontario Arts Engagement Survey. Data was collected by Ipsos Reid in May/June of 2011, and of 12,672 calls made, 1,594 interviews were completed. Here are some of the results:

Art viewing habits:

  • Visiting a museum was the tenth most popular arts activity with 51% of those surveyed claiming to have gone at least once in the last year – the number one art activity was watching movies on a computer, TV or DVD (94%).

At least once a year:

  • 9% of respondents paint, draw or make original art (75% don’t).
  • 6% take an arts class (91% don’t).
  • 39% go to an arts fair (54% don’t).
  • 36% buy art for their homes (59% don’t).


  • 71% of respondents said that the home was the predominant setting for engaging with the arts.
  • 95% said they would like to be doing more arts activities than they are currently doing.

These are just some of the results from the OAC’s most recent survey. Hopefully, they’ll commission another one soon.

The World’s Most Visited Art Museums

While the fine arts will never attract as many people as major sporting events, the world’s top museums do quite well in the crowd department. Toronto needs to step it up though.


The Art Newspaper recently released its annual survey of global museum attendance, and if you live in Toronto, the numbers are a bit shocking:


Population: 2,615,060 (2011)

Visitors to the Art Gallery of Ontario in 2014: 861,991 (No. 75 globally)


Population: 1,649,519 (2011)

Visitors to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in 2014: 1,015,022 (No. 62 globally)

Clearly, when it comes to art, Torontonians just aren’t as passionate as Montrealers. Oh well, it could be worse, The National Gallery of Canada (in Ottawa) didn’t even make the list.

To put the above in (even more) perspective, here are some other results from the survey:

The world’s most visited art museum in 2014

The Louvre, Paris, 9,260,000

North American’s most visited art museum in 2014

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 6,162,147 (No. 4 globally)

The world’s most visited art show in 2014

The All Complete Qianlong: Emperor Gaozong, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 1,170,862

North America’s most visited art show in 2014

Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 643,783

The world’s most visited show for a living artist in 2014:

Yayoi Kusama: Infinite Obsession, Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Brazil, 754,565

Money & Art

With every passing year, the prices paid for arts biggest names rise and rise. Just this week, another record was broken. How long before it’s broken again?


ABOVE: Pablo Picasso, Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) / Women of Algiers, 1955, oil on canvas, 44.9 x 57.6 inches, private collection

On Monday night, Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version ‘O’) broke the record for most expensive artwork sold at auction when it went for $179.4 million at Christie’s in New York City. All told, the 35 pieces in Monday’s sale went for a total of $705,858,000. To put this in perspective, the Kingdom of Tonga has a GDP of $466.3 million.

Shockingly, Les Femmes d’Alger is nowhere near the most expensive painting ever sold. That distinction goes to Paul Gauguin’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo which changed hands privately for $300 million in February of this year. It seems that in the art world, private sales trump auction houses.

Every once in a while, buyers want their names attached to their acquisitions, but most often, and in the case of the above paintings, they do not. While this desire for anonymity is understandable, it is also worrisome as it likely means that these two masterpieces will never be seen (in public) again.

All of this begs the question: why do private individuals spend so much on art? From a hedge against inflation to the building of an art foundation, there are many possible reasons, but the cynic within me has to ask: Is the ‘love of art’ one of them?

100th Annual OCAD University Graduation Exhibition

If you’re looking to spot the next big thing, the Annual Graduation Exhibition at OCAD University is a good place to start. The 2015 edition just wrapped; here are my thoughts.


ABOVE: Karly McCloskey, Embody, video installation

Last week, OCAD University (formerly the Ontario College of Art and Design) held its 100th Annual Graduation Exhibition. I’ve gone every year since moving to Toronto, so on Sunday, I decided to go again. Here’s what I thought:

  • I didn’t like some of the medal winners. I won’t say who – they’re students, and this is a nice blog, not a mean one.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way, here’s what else I thought:

  • I liked a lot of what I saw, but oddly enough, the pieces I liked the most weren’t in the big rooms; instead, they were tucked away in the less traveled parts of the building (seems my tastes differ from those of the organizers – this is nothing new).

As I walked around campus, I took note of my favorite artists, and once home, I looked for them online. Surprisingly, only a few had websites:

Jessica Baldanza

Karly McCloskey

Tarin Mead

Final thoughts:

Overall, I was impressed with the talent coming out of OCAD University this year.