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The AGO Opens Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters From Revolutionary Russia, 1910–1940

Two rare collections on display in conjunction with Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde

(TORONTO – Oct. 5, 2011) Artworks from two special collections at the Art Gallery of Ontario – Prints and Drawings, and the Edward P. Taylor Reference Library and Archives – are showcased in Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters from Revolutionary Russia, 1910–1940. Opening Oct. 8, 2011, the exhibition runs until Jan. 15, 2012.

Using the major AGO exhibition Chagall and the Russian Avant-Garde: Masterpieces from the Collection of the Centre Pompidou, Paris as a departure point, Constructing Utopia examines the era of revolution in the Russian empire as the tsarist autocracy was deposed and replaced by a Communist government that enlisted the people in the construction of a utopian Soviet society. This all-encompassing political and social project is reflected in the striking art and design of the times.

Curated by Medeine Tribinevicius, AGO Gelber Intern, Prints and Drawings, and Donald Rance, AGO Reference Librarian, the exhibition brings into dialogue two exciting branches of graphic design: futurist and constructivist books, which speak to the formative artistic years of the avant-garde; and large-scale, dramatic posters, which demonstrate the impact of this ground-breaking art movement on the everyday visual culture of Soviet Russia.

The AGO’s collection of Russian posters is the finest public compilation of revolutionary posters in North America. The rare books are a recent Gallery acquisition (donated anonymously in 2009), and this marks the collection’s first public showing. Comprising over 100 works, the books and posters focus on portrayals of political figures and momentous events, as well as propaganda supporting the changes to mass education and literacy campaigns in the early years of the Soviet Union.

In conjunction with the exhibition, Tribinevicius discusses the journey of the posters from the Soviet Union and their fate in Canada, during a special talk on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2011, entitled “The Art of Persuasion: Russian Propaganda Posters”. The talk takes place in the AGO’s Prints and Drawings Study Centre at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students with valid ID, and $17 for AGO members, and may be purchased online at or by telephone at 416.979.6608. For more information please visit

Constructing Utopia: Books and Posters from Revolutionary Russia, 1910–1940 is generously supported by The Gelber Family: Sara & Richard Charney, Nance Gelber & Daniel Bjarnason, Judith Gelber, and Patricia & David Rubin.

With a permanent collection of more than 80,000 works of art, the Art Gallery of Ontario is among the most distinguished art museums in North America. In 2008, with a stunning new design by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry, the AGO opened its doors to the public amid international acclaim. Architectural highlights include Galleria Italia, a gleaming showcase made of wood and glass running the length of an entire city block along the Gallery’s façade; and the feature staircase, spiraling up through the roof of Walker Court and into the new contemporary galleries above. From the extensive Group of Seven collection to the dramatic new African art gallery; from the cutting-edge works in the contemporary tower to Peter Paul Rubens’ masterpiece The Massacre of The Innocents, a highlight of the celebrated Thomson Collection, there is truly something for everyone at the AGO.


For images and more information, please contact:

Sean O’Neill, 416.979.6660 ext. 403,

Caitlin Coull, 416.979.6660 ext. 364,

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