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AGO Sparks ‘Visual Conversation’ with Rembrandt / Freud Exhibition

First museum exhibition of Lucian Freud etchings in Canada

"With etching, there's an element of danger and mystery. You don't know how it's going to come out. What's black is white. What's left is right."  

- Lucian Freud

(TORONTO - Dec. 14, 2009) An innovative exhibition juxtaposing the etchings of two masters of the human form will open the Art Gallery of Ontario's winter season on January 30, 2010. Rembrandt / Freud: Etchings from Life, continuing through May 23, showcases the etchings of Lucian Freud in a Canadian art museum for the first time. It is also the first exhibition to compare the works of Freud and Rembrandt - both renowned for an ability to reveal the inner life of the sitter in portrait.                                                                                          

"The AGO is committed to presenting art in new and dynamic ways, and Etchings from Life is a wonderful embodiment of that goal," says AGO Director and CEO Matthew Teitelbaum. "The exhibition sparks a dialogue across centuries, makes new connections between two very influential artists, and reveals compelling truths about who we are and who we've been."

"Rembrandt and Freud are two of the world's greatest figurative artists who share an ability to expose inner truths about their subjects through portraiture," explains Brenda Rix, the AGO's assistant curator of Prints and Drawings. "That etching is so integral to both artists' artistic practices makes this exhibition particularly exciting."

Rembrandt / Freud: Etchings from Life will include 20 etchings by Freud on loan from the Mira Godard Gallery, the McMaster Museum of Art and several private collectors. It will also feature 30 works from the AGO's extensive collection of etchings by Rembrandt. The  collection, on view for the first time, was greatly enriched by a generous gift from Esther and Sam Sarick in 2006.

The exhibition is organized by the AGO's Department of Prints and Drawings, which has been garnering international attention of late. Drawing Attention: Selected Works on Paper from the Art Gallery of Ontario opened to rave reviews at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, England, in October, earning praise from the Guardian, the Telegraph and the Observer, who called it "unmissable."

Rembrandt / Freud: Etchings from Life leads a very busy 2010 season at the AGO, with exhibitions Wangechi Mutu: This You Call Civilization? and Françoise Sullivan: Winner of The Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO opening in February; and Sculpture as Time: Major Works. New Acquisitions. and Anselm Kiefer: Palmsonntag opening in early March. King Tut: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs, which opened to widespread enthusiasm on November 24, continues through April 18, 2010.


Better known today for his paintings, Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1663) was considered a great virtuoso in the 17th century for the astonishing range and variety of his etchings. He made more than 300 prints over a career that spanned 40 years.


The grandson of psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, Lucian Freud was born in Berlin in 1922 but has lived in England since 1933. He has been celebrated internationally as a painter and has been called the "Rembrandt of our times." Etching has been an integral part of his artistic practice since the early 1980s.


With a permanent collection of more than 79,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public to international acclaim. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery's façade; and the feature staircase, spiralling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from David Altmejd's monumental installation The Index to Peter Paul Rubens' masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.


For more images and more information, contact:

Sean O'Neill, 416 979 6660 x 403,

Antonietta Mirabelli, 416 979 6660 x 454,

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Culture. Additional operating support is received from the Volunteers of the AGO, the City of Toronto, the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts.

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