Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

AGO to debut acclaimed philosopher Alain de Botton’s Art as Therapy exhibition series

AGO to be the first North American museum to host installation based on new book

TORONTO — Coming in spring 2014, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) presents an innovative exhibition entitled Art as Therapy, co-curated by renowned British philosopher Alain de Botton and art historian John Armstrong. Exploring the therapeutic potential of artworks, the exhibition opens on May 3, 2014, marking the project’s North American debut.

Presented as a series of interventions, and featuring works from the AGO collection, the exhibition brings to life the ideas set forth in de Botton’s and Armstrong’s highly anticipated new book, Art as Therapy, launching Oct. 14, 2013.

Engaging, lively and controversial, de Botton’s and Armstrong’s book is packed with 150 examples of outstanding art, architecture and design, while chapters on love, nature, money and politics show how art can help with many common difficulties — from forging good relationships and finding happiness to accepting mortality. Seeking to help readers develop a deeper understanding of art and of themselves in equal measure, the book provides fascinating reading for those familiar with art as well as those new to the subject.

In an installation that brings the ideas of the book to life, de Botton and Armstrong will select key works from the AGO collection to illustrate their theory in seven areas throughout the Gallery. Accompanying these works will be interactive strategies designed to connect visitors to the art on a personal level.

Art as Therapy underlines one of the AGO’s key goals: to bring people closer to art,” said Matthew Teitelbaum, director and CEO of the AGO. “We couldn’t be more pleased to be the first institution on the continent to debut the project. Alain’s and John’s research is extraordinarily thought-provoking, and we are excited to play a part in igniting this important conversation.”

The AGO is the first North American institution to present the exhibition, which will be uniquely tailored to the Gallery’s collection. It will also be presented at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the National Gallery of Victoria in Melbourne. The AGO exhibition will be accompanied by a series of public talks and book signings, to be announced in the new year.

To coincide with the launch of the book, a new website and mobile app is available at Produced by The School of Life, the site is organized according to categories, including Love, Work, Politics, Anxiety and Free Time. Within each category, the authors use works of fine art — paintings, photographs, even architecture—to demonstrate how a piece of art can solve a specific problem.

Alain de Botton
is the bestselling author of How Proust Can Change Your Life and Religion for Atheists, among other works of fiction and essays. In 2008 he founded The School For Life, dedicated to a new vision of education. He lives and works in London, U.K.

John Armstrong is a philosopher and art historian based at Melbourne University in Australia. He is the author of many books, including The Intimate Philosophy of Art, Conditions of Love: the Philosophy of Intimacy and In Search of Civilization: Remaking a Tarnished Idea.

With a collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. From the vast body of Group of Seven and signature Canadian works to the African art gallery, from the cutting-edge contemporary art to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, the AGO offers an incredible art experience with each visit. In 2002 Kenneth Thomson’s generous gift of 2,000 remarkable works of Canadian and European art inspired Transformation AGO, an innovative architectural expansion by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry that in 2008 resulted in one of the most critically acclaimed architectural achievements in North America. Highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block, and the often-photographed spiral staircase, beckoning visitors to explore. The AGO has an active membership program offering great value, and the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre offers engaging art and creative programs for children, families, youth and adults. Visit to find out more about upcoming special exhibitions, to learn about eating and shopping at the AGO and to register for programs and to buy tickets or memberships.

Sept. 25, 2013 – Nov. 27, 2013: David Bowie is

Nov. 30, 2013 – March 2, 2014: The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918

April 5, 2014 – July 6, 2014: Francis Bacon & Henry Moore

The AGO acknowledges the generous support of its Signature Partners: American Express, Signature Partner of the Conservation Program; and Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.

The Art Gallery of Ontario receives additional operating support from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.

- 30 -

For more information, please contact:

Laura Banks; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 504,

Andrea-Jo Wilson; News Officer, AGO Communications
416-979-6660, ext. 403,

Share and Enjoy: