Modern and Contemporary
About the AGO's Modern Collection
The twentieth-century collecting area consists of paintings and sculptures by European artists dating from 1900 to 1960, and by American artists from 1945 to 1960. The collection includes important paintings and sculptures by such masters as Pablo Picasso, Constantin Brancusi, Marc Chagall, Raoul Dufy, Paul Gauguin, Joan Miró and Amedeo Modigliani.
It also comprises an exceptional cluster of Surrealist works and one of the strongest sculpture collections in North America, featuring the internationally renowned Henry Moore Sculpture Centre and works by Dame Barbara Hepworth and Naum Gabo. The highlights from the Modern collection are among the AGO’s most prized works.
The American modern collection includes a number of key works by Abstract Expressionist artists and their influences. Foremost among them are major paintings by Sam Francis, Arshile Gorky, Hans Hofmann, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell, Mark Rothko and an important sculpture by David Smith.
About the AGO's Contemporary Collection
The Contemporary collection at the AGO offers visitors a comprehensive experience of American and European art since 1960 and Canadian art since 1985. It encompasses numerous media including painting, sculpture, installation, works on paper, photography, film and video. The collection of Canadian art during the post-war period is comprehensive, and is inflected by career-spanning holdings of work by leading Canadian artists, which are often accompanied by an archival component that deepens the understanding of these key figures. In the past decade, the AGO has acquired significant works, and in some cases multiple works, by David Altmejd, Murray Favro, Brian Jungen, Suzy Lake, Micah Lexier, Euan Macdonald, John Massey, Damian Moppett and Evan Penny.
Internationally, the core strengths of the collection can be found in movements such as Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, Minimalism and Conceptualism, Colour Field art of the 1960s, as well as German and Italian art of the 1980s. The collection possesses a remarkable depth of holdings for several artists, including Robert Motherwell, Bruce Nauman, Dennis Oppenheim, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra, Robert Smithson and General Idea. Iconic works by Georg Baselitz, Jenny Holzer, Ellsworth Kelly, Mary Kelly, Franz Kline, Sol LeWitt, Claes Oldenburg, Mark Rothko, George Segal and Andy Warhol also distinguish the collection.
The Contemporary collection places a strong emphasis on sculpture, and features works by numerous noteworthy Canadian and international sculptors such as Miroslaw Balka, Anthony Caro, Ian Carr-Harris, Richard Deacon, Mona Hatoum, Brian Jungen, Anish Kapoor, Liz Magor and Doris Salcedo.
The AGO’s holdings in contemporary photography reveal how central this medium has become to contemporary creative practice. Highlights include important works by Janieta Eyre, Rodney Graham, Tim Lee, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson and Jeff Wall, while artists of the Düsseldorf School, such as Andreas Gursky, Candida Höfer, Axel Hutte, Thomas Ruff and Thomas Struth are also well represented.
The AGO also possesses selective holdings of film and video art. A significant collection of avant-garde film was assembled in the 1970s revolving around works by Stan Brakhage, Bruce Conner, David Rimmer, Michael Snow and Joyce Wieland. With more artists using film and projection media, the collection has grown to encompass a new phase of film and video works – in many cases installations – by such artists as Janet Cardiff, Stan Douglas, Noel Harding, Nestor Kruger, Mark Lewis and Barbara Steinman. A recent gift from AGO trustee Ydessa Hendeles has added key works by Gary Hill and Bill Viola to the collection.