Skip to Content

Art Gallery of Ontario

Keyword Site Search

Highlights from the Malcolmson Collection of Photography to make their public debut at the AGO

Exhibition offers first public opportunity to view collection of rare vintage photography

TORONTO — Vintage photographs by some of the most notable artists in the history of photography will be revealed this spring as the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) invites the public to explore the Malcolmson Collection for the first time. A selection of significant works from this Collection, recently acquired by the AGO, will form two presentations, one focused on works from the 19th century and the other on works from the 20th century. Both presentations will be on view in the AGO’s European galleries from May 1 to Sept 7, 2014.

Bill Brandt, André Kertesz, Gustave Le Gray, Man Ray, Charles Marville, Tina Modotti and Edward Weston are only a few of more than 45 artists whose works will go on view. Ranging from early landscape explorations to Surrealist experimentations to documentary approaches, these photographs showcase the evolution of an artistic medium.

“Seen in tandem, these two presentations invite the viewer on a tour of the history of photography through its technical evolution and its artistic pioneers,” said Sophie Hackett, associate curator of photography. “And, seen in the context of the AGO’s European paintings galleries, these exhibitions place photography with other media from the same period, highlighting dialogue and influence between the different forms but also the development of new and unique aesthetic visions.”

Featuring 279 photographs by 110 artists from 1845 to 2011, the Malcolmson Collection is regarded as one of the most important collections of its kind in Canada. The AGO acquired this rich collection in late 2013 thanks to a generous gift from Harry and Ann Malcolmson in partnership with a private donor.

The Collection’s importance and special character derives from the decision made by the Malcolmsons in the 1980s to refocus their 30-year association with contemporary art—including Harry Malcolmson’s stint as an art critic—to explore the lesser-known territory of historical photography.

The Malcolmson Collection spans the history of photography from inventor William Henry Fox Talbot to contemporary artists like Scott McFarland and Ian Wallace, and includes representative photographs from each of the significant periods and styles in the history of the medium. It also highlights photographers known for their innovative practices, including Eugène Atget, Julia Margaret Cameron, Edward Weston, Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Aleksandr Rodchenko, Harry Callahan and John Vanderpant.

In conjunction with the exhibition’s opening, the AGO will launch The Malcolmson Collection Online, a digital resource showcasing over 140 works in addition to artist biographies, background information and videos of Harry and Ann Malcolmson discussing the collection and their lives as collectors.

This exhibition is organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

The Malcolmson Collection: Gift of Harry and Ann Malcolmson in partnership with a private donor.

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 AGO 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.

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.

April 5, 2014 – July 20, 2014: Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty

Aug. 23, 2014 – January, 2015: Alex Colville

Oct. 18, 2014 – Jan. 11, 2015: Michelangelo

- 30 -

A selection of hi-res images is available for press use. To obtain images and captions, and for other press inquiries, please contact:

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

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

Share and Enjoy: