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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, Henri Matisse, 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 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.

Henry Moore Sculpture Centre

Part of the Art Gallery of Ontario’s Modern and Contemporary department, The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre and Henry Moore Discovery Centre house the world’s largest public collection of the famed artist’s work, comprising 141 sculptures, 77 drawings and 711 prints, most of which were donations from Moore himself. This collection was one of the most important twentieth-century gifts to a public museum by an internationally celebrated artist, and has been a major attraction at the Gallery for close to 40 years.

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 is comprehensive, and is inflected by career-spanning holdings, 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, Stephen Andrews, Murray Favro, Brian Jungen, Janice Kerbel, Suzy Lake, Micah Lexier, Euan Macdonald, John Massey, Damian Moppett, Evan Penny and Ron Terada.

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, Tino Segal and Pierre Huyghe 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 David Altmejd, Miroslaw Balka, Anthony Caro, Ian Carr-Harris, Richard Deacon, Elmgreen and Dragset, Geoffrey Farmer, Mona Hatoum, Brian Jungen, Los Carpinteros, Anish Kapoor, Liz Magor, Wilfredo Prieto and Doris Salcedo. A major work by artist Pierre Huyghe was recently acquired as a foremost example of 21st century practice.

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, Scott McFarland, 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. The collection has grown to encompass a new phase of film and video works – in many cases installations – by such artists as Francis Alÿs, Yael Bartana, Janet Cardiff, Stan Douglas, Trisha Donnelly, Noel Harding, Nestor Kruger, Mark Lewis, Barbara Steinman, and Catherine Sullivan. A recent gift from AGO trustee Ydessa Hendeles has added key works by Gary Hill and Bill Viola to the collection.

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