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Exhibition Dates

March 12 – May 29, 2016

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This exhibition is a highlight of the


Exhibition Dates

March 12 – May 29, 2016

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#OutsidersAGO

LISTEN TO THE PLAYLIST

Curated by Jim Shedden

CONTACT LAUNCH PARTY

Wednesday, April 27
7-11pm
Walker Court
Learn More

TALKS & SCREENINGS

Strangers, Relatives and Flaming Creatures: Outsiders on Screen
Jackman Hall
March 11 - May 27, 2016

Close Encounters: Diane Arbus
Friday, April 8, 2016

AGO/CONTACT International Photography Talks

Jeff Rosenheim on Diane Arbus
Friday, May 6, 2016

Casa Susanna
Wednesday, May 11, 2016

LaToya Ruby Frazier
Friday, May 27, 2016

Garry Winogrand, Centennial Ball, Metropolitan Museum, New York, 1969. Gelatin silver print, printed c. 1976, 35.6 x 43.2 cm (sheet). Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/1313 © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Garry Winogrand, Untitled, ca. 1970. Gelatin silver print, printed 1970s, 35.6 x 43.2 (sheet). Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/1338 © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Garry Winogrand, Kent State Demonstration, Washington, D.C. 1970. Gelatin silver print, printed 1970s, 35.6 x 43.2 cm (sheet). Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/1341© The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, Pull My Daisy (film still) 1959. 16mm film with narration by Jack Kerouac (black and white, sound, 30 min.). Courtesy of The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.

Marie Menken, Go! Go! Go! (film still), 1962–1964. 16mm film transferred to Blu-Ray (colour, silent, 12 min.). Courtesy of Anthology Film Archives.

Gordon Parks, The Fontenelles at the Poverty Board, Harlem, New York, 1967. Gelatin silver print, 50.8 x 76.2 cm. Courtesy of The Gordon Parks Foundation and Nicholas Metivier Gallery © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Gordon Parks, Rosie Fontenelle Cleans the Bathtub, Harlem, New York, 1967. Gelatin silver print, 35.6 x 27.9 cm. Courtesy of The Gordon Parks Foundation and Nicholas Metivier Gallery © The Gordon Parks Foundation.

Danny Lyon, Cal, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, 1966. Gelatin silver print, 40.6 × 50.8 cm (sheet). Promised gift, James Lahey and Brian Lahey, in honour of our mother Ellen Lahey. © 2015 Danny Lyon/Magnum Photos.

Shirley Clarke, Portrait of Jason (film still) 1967. 35mm film transferred to digital file (black and white, sound, 105 min.). Courtesy of Milestone Films

Diane Arbus, The Junior Interstate Ballroom Dance Champions, Yonkers, N.Y., 1962-1963. Gelatin silver print, 50.8 × 40.6 cm (sheet). Private collection, Toronto. Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus.

Diane Arbus, A young man and his pregnant wife in Washington Square Park, N.Y.C., 1965.Gelatin silver print, 50.8 x 40.6 cm (sheet). Private collection, Toronto. Copyright © The Estate of Diane Arbus.

Unknown American, Two friends in black dresses, 1960s. Chromogenic print, 12.7 x 9 cm. Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/88 © Art Gallery of Ontario.

Unknown American, In a pale blue dress in the living room, 1960s. Colour instant print, 8.9 x 9 cm. Purchase, with funds generously donated by Martha LA McCain, 2015. 2014/749 © Art Gallery of Ontario.

Nan Goldin, Picnic on the Esplanade, Boston, 1973. Cibachrome print, 57.2 x 77.5 cm. Courtesy of Matthew Marks Gallery. © 2016 Nan Goldin.

Kenneth Anger, Scorpio Rising (film still), 1963.16mm film transferred to digital file (colour, sound, 29 min.). Courtesy of Anger Management.

Outsiders: American Photography and Film,
1950s–1980s

[It’s] the purest power of photography: the chance not just to see an intimate world from a distance, but how it’s framed and how we look within it.

– National Post

Harnessing the descriptive and expressive capacities of photography and film, the artists in this remarkable exhibition, Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s, all participated in changing the image of American life. Motivated by a sense that the status quo was untenable, and that current visual expressions of American life did not reflect what they knew and saw of the world, they deployed their chosen media to reflect a more complex, more authentic and more diverse view of the world in which they had grown up.

Photographers Diane Arbus, Nan Goldin, Danny Lyon, Gordon Parks, Garry Winogrand, and those who attended Casa Susanna, and filmmakers Kenneth Anger, Shirley Clarke, Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie, and Marie Menken created works that remain as challenging — even troubling — today as they did in their time.

The fashionable crowd dancing with abandon at the Metropolitan Museum’s Centennial Ball looks freakish. The little people posing at home are dignified. The individuals at Casa Susanna wear their feminine uniforms — slim shifts, matching pumps and purses, and tasteful accessories with chin-length bobs — with as much flair and gusto as the members of Chicago’s Outlaws Motorcycle Club do their leather, denim and Brylcreem. The determined countenance of a mother with her children meeting a social services agent is as riveting and undeniable as the self-portrait with bruised and bloodshot eyes after an altercation with a lover.

The filmmakers also cover a broad territory. Robert Frank and Alfred Leslie collaborated to create an homage to New York’s Beat scene in Pull My Daisy, a blend of scripted and improvised performances. And, Marie Menken created her own paean to the contemporary pace of New York City in the silent film Go! Go! Go!. Kenneth Anger’s rapid editing of both staged and original footage of bikers set to pop music in Scorpio Rising reveals a homoerotic fascination with, as well as a critical eye on American youth culture. In a marathon 12-hour film session, Shirley Clarke committed to film a complex, even controversial, portrait of Jason Holliday, the first time a gay African American man appears in a documentary feature film, Portrait of Jason. Parks and Goldin also both move beyond the still photograph, with Diary of a Harlem Family, a short documentary film built from Parks's photographs, and The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, a slide show of more than 700 of Goldin's images, set to music. 

These are various forms of fitting in as well as standing out, in ways that defied both cultural conventions and the existing visual record. Their visions remind us that the world is not united by a smooth surface, but rather by a complex network of ideas and images, often in tension with each other.

Behind the scenes: "Outsiders: American Photography and Film"

Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s" celebrates the artists who changed the image of American life, including Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Danny Lyon, Nan Goldin, Gordon Parks. We invited four Torontonians to sit down with the exhibition's co-curators, Jim Shedden and Sophie Hackett, to discuss what it means to be an insider or an outsider—this is what they had to say.

The exhibition Outsiders: American Photography and Film, 1950s–1980s is part of the AGO Year of Photography, which runs through July 2016, and a key moment arrives in May 2016 as the Gallery becomes one of the official hubs for the 2016 Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival.

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

Organized by the Art Gallery of Ontario.

Generously supported by

  • Cindy and Shon Barnett
  • Maxine Granovsky Gluskin and Ira Gluskin
  • Garfield Weston

Signature Partner, Photography Collection Program

Supported by

  • Canada Council for the Arts
  • We acknowledge the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, which last year invested $153 million to bring the arts to Canadians throughout the country.

    Nous remercions le Conseil des arts du Canada de son soutien. L'an dernier, le Conseil a investi 153 millions de dollars pour mettre de l'art dans la vie des Canadiennes et des Canadiens de tout le pays.

Extraordinary gifts to the AGO's photography collection and key loans sparked this exhibition.
We are grateful to:

  • Martha LA McCain
  • James Lahey and Brian Lahey, in honour of their mother Ellen Lahey
  • Private collectors, Toronto and Ottawa

Co-presented by

  • contact 20 logo

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