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Art Gallery of Ontario declares the Year of Photography starts now

AGO offers a full year of modern and contemporary photography exhibitions and partners with 2016 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival

TORONTO — This year the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) celebrates its superb photography program by putting a special focus on the art of the lens. The AGO Year of Photography includes several feature exhibitions and a range of programming that builds on the Gallery’s long-standing commitment to photography and film, offering opportunities to explore society’s fascination with images and the central role they play in contemporary life. Visitors will discover treasures from the AGO’s vast collection of photography — which has received longstanding support from Aimia, Signature Partner and Founding Partner of the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize — and see significant loans from around the world.

A key moment comes this spring as the AGO acts as one of the official hubs for the 2016 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, which is among Toronto’s most eagerly anticipated annual art events. This new partnership will provide Festival visitors with a home base throughout the month of May, recognizing the long-standing relationship between the two organizations throughout the CONTACT’s 20-year history.

“Toronto’s interest in photography is firmly established and the AGO believes that its growing commitment to the medium, with the support of Aimia, will meet a real demand in the community,” says Stephanie Smith, the AGO’s Chief Curator. “Our Year of Photography is an invitation to think about how photography can actually shape how we see ourselves, others, our communities and the world. As such, there could be no better time for the AGO to partner with the Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, which has been championing image-based artists and the best of contemporary photography for twenty years.”

The AGO Year of Photography features six exhibitions, spanning now through summer 2016, and includes, chronologically:

Camera Atomica
July 8 – Nov. 15, 2015
Camera Atomica is one of the first exhibitions of atomic imagery to chart the entire post-war period, from the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to the present. Featuring more than 200 photographs from 1945 to 2012 including work by Harold Edgerton, the Canadian Atomic Energy Board, Robert Del Tredici, NASA, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory, Kenji Higuchi, Carol Condé and Karl Beveridge, the exhibition is accompanied by a selection of atomic-era artifacts. Guest curated by John O’Brian, Professor and Faculty Associate of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at the University of British Columbia, with support from Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Photography, Camera Atomica explores the crucial role that photography has played in shaping the public’s perspective on atomic energy and weapons. Camera Atomica is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Aimia | AGO Photography Prize 2015 Exhibition
Sept. 9, 2015 – Jan. 3 2016
The Aimia | AGO Photography Prize, Canada’s most significant prize for photography, opens its 2015 exhibition on Sept. 9, 2015 at the AGO. Featuring over 35 works by this year’s shortlisted artists — Dave Jordano, Annette Kelm, Owen Kydd and Hito Steyerl — the Aimia | AGO Photography Prize 2015 Exhibition is curated by lead juror Adelina Vlas, the AGO’s Associate Curator of Contemporary Art. Voting for the 2015 winner begins in person at the AGO upon the exhibition’s opening on Sept. 9, 2015 and on the Prize’s website on Sept. 15, 2015, and closes at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 29, 2015. Members of the public are invited to vote for the artist whose work most appeals to them. The winner, who will be announced on Dec. 1, 2015, receives C$50,000. Visit for more information.

Anne Collier
Sept. 10, 2015 – Jan. 10, 2016
Praised by Artforum for her “multilayered swirl of reality, fiction and perception” and by the New York Times for her “savvy and elegant” images, Anne Collier makes coolly analytic photographs that ask how photography influences our perception of the world. Tackling issues of gender, celebrity and appropriation, Anne Collier marks the American photographer’s first major solo exhibition and brings together 40 large-scale prints, including works from her signature Woman with a Camera series. Marking its only Canadian stop, the exhibition opens at the AGO on Sept. 23, 2015. Anne Collier is curated by MCA Chief Curator Michael Darling and organized by the MCA Chicago. Special thanks to the Ira Gluskin and Maxine Granovsky Gluskin Charitable Foundation for its lead support of Anne Collier. Additional support for Anne Collier provided by Liza Mauer and Andrew Sheiner, and The Schulich Foundation

Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Exhibition
Nov. 30, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016
The winners of the 2015 Aimia | AGO Photography Prize Scholarship Program will be featured in an exhibition at the AGO opening on Nov. 30, 2015. Valued at C$24,000, the scholarship program, which was inaugurated in 2013, recognizes three full-time students — Canadian or international — who are entering their final year of study toward a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in photography at one of 15 participating post-secondary institutions across Canada. From a field of more than 100 applicants this year, the jury has awarded Lodoe Laura of Ryerson University, Alison Postma of the University of Guelph and Graham Wiebe of the University of Manitoba C$7,000 each toward tuition for their final year of undergraduate study. Their schools will each receive a C$1,000 honorarium. One work by each of the artists will be on display in the Weston Family Community Gallery in the AGO’s Weston Family Learning Centre through to Jan. 31, 2016.

Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s
March 12 – May 29, 2016
Outsiders, a special exhibition of unforgettable images opening at the AGO next March, highlights photographers and filmmakers working in the United States from the late 1950s to the mid-1980s in a time of intense political and cultural turmoil. It’s no accident that artists at the time turned to photography and film — mass media then largely ‘outside’ the realm of mainstream art and its focus on painting and sculpture— to express a broader range of human experience. Photographs by some of the greatest artists of the period — Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Danny Lyon, and others including the anonymous visitors to Casa Susanna — depict musicians, cross-dressers, biker gangs, protests, press conferences, and even animals, bringing to light the complex social realities and the yearning for greater collective and individual equality. As part of the exhibition, the AGO will be presenting films by artists Kenneth Anger, D.A. Pennebaker, Marie Menken, Robert Frank, Shirley Clarke, Albert and David Maysles and others. Curated by Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s associate curator of photography and Jim Shedden, manager of publishing, Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and presented in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

Thomas Ruff: Object Relations
April 28 – July 31, 2016
Thomas Ruff: Object Relations brings together close to 40 large scale works by the renowned German photographer. Working with found and collected images, Ruff manipulates them in a range of ways – cropping, enlarging and retouching, among others. Not only are the resulting works often grander or more mysterious in form, they also highlight the act of photography itself and its ability to transform and direct what we see. Curated by Sophie Hackett, the AGO’s associate curator of photography, this exhibition will feature works from Ruff’s ongoing series Phg (Photograms, 2012 – ongoing) and Negative (2014 – ongoing) as well as his acclaimed series Sterne (1989 – 1992), Zeitungsfotos (1990 – 1991) and Maschinen (2003). Reflecting Ruff’s own deep engagement with the history of photography, these images will be accompanied by selections from Ruff’s extensive personal collection of photographic materials. Thomas Ruff: Object Relations is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario and presented in partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.


The AGO acknowledges the generous support of Aimia, Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program.

With a collection of more than 90,000 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, Ken 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 learn more.

June 20 – Sept. 20, 2015: Picturing the Americas

Oct. 31, 2015 – Jan. 31, 2016:  J.M.W. Turner: Painting Set Free

Mar. 12 – May 29, 2016:  Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s

The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners. 


For hi-res images and other press inquiries, please contact:

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

Caitlin Coull; Communications Manager
416-979-6660, ext. 364,

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