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This new online shop aims to make Canadian art accessible to all

(Image: Artzila/Facebook)

(Image: Artzila/Facebook)

Artzila.com, a new Toronto-based online art shop, hopes to do for fledgling Canadian fine artists what YouTube did for Justin Bieber. The website, which launched a couple months ago, serves as a middleman between talented Canadian artists—some of whom may not have the money or connections to monetize their efforts—and the art-consuming public. Professional and amateur creators can submit their original photographs, paintings and other two-dimensional media to the site’s curators, who evaluate each piece for pure artistic merit. If a piece makes the cut, it’s listed on the site and shoppers are able to order from a limited batch of museum-quality prints, which are produced, packaged and shipped at no cost to the artist. Prices range from $40 (for a basic eight-by-ten) to $1000 (for a wall-spanning 40 by 50), making the site a genuine money-earning vehicle for talented up-and-comers, who retain 50 per cent of the proceeds. It’s also a potential investment tool for discerning collectors.

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Slideshow: a preview of “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” the AGO’s new fleshy, figurative exhibition

Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty at the AGO

With its latest exhibition, “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty,” the Art Gallery of Ontario is offering visitors two shows in one. The first Canadian exhibition of Irish-born British painter Francis Bacon’s work will be merged with the AGO’s own collection of works by English sculptor Henry Moore.

Born in Dublin in 1909, Bacon’s work was defined by its bleak, figurative approach to the human body. A kind of proto-David Cronenberg, Bacon seemed to regard human flesh as infinitely malleable—fit to be twisted and warped into all manner of abnormal configurations. His work prods the corporeality of human nature, like a lonely bachelor poking at freezer-burned hot dogs thawing in the sink. Bacon treats humanity as though it consists of little more than sacks of misshapen meat. (It’s fitting that some of his paintings share screen space with Michael Keaton’s rapacious, cyborg-building CEO in the new Robocop remake.)

Though the two never worked together, Henry Moore’s figurative sculptures provide a nice counterpoint to Bacon’s work, exploring similar themes in marble and bronze. The AGO’s exhibit calls attention to the aesthetic continuities tying the two artists together. Finally, a chance for anyone sick of beauty to take in a little horror and repugnance!

Here are some photos of the exhibition. It opens on April 5 and runs until July 20.

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Slideshow: a preview of “The Forbidden City,” the ROM’s new exhibition of artifacts from China’s imperial palace

Slideshow: a preview of The Forbidden City, the ROM's new exhibit of China's closed-off imperial palace

As part of the ROM’s centenary, the museum is renewing its Far East focus by bringing in an extensive collection of over 200 artifacts from Beijing’s Palace Museum—some of which have never left China before. Dubbed “The Forbidden City: Inside the court of China’s emperors,” the exhibition documents a strange 500-year period for China, during which only the emperor’s family and servants were allowed inside the walls of the world’s largest imperial palace.

Visitors can expect to be led through representations of various layers of the imperial complex, where they’ll be able to ogle increasingly rare objects, ending with items from the emperor’s personal chamber. There will be an imperial throne from the Qing dynasty, a porcelain cup from the Ming dynasty, and even a golden-fringed robe worn by Puyi, the palace’s final inhabitant and the subject of Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1987 film The Last Emperor. Here, a look at some of the artifacts that will be on display as part of the exhibition, which opens on Saturday, March 8.

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Slideshow: A preview of This Is Not A Toy, The Design Exchange’s exhibition of conceptual toys

The Design Exchange has hosted exhibitions dealing with everything from urban factories, to French lingerie, to the pursuit of happiness. It’s not surprising, then, that its upcoming show delves into yet another niche: the peculiar world of the conceptual toys—objects that are made not as playthings, but purely as examples of art and design.

Opening on Friday, February 7, This Is Not A Toy will feature gigantic contemporary sculptures, miniscule figurines, and a range of artwork and film by artists like Kaws, Friendswithyou, Coarse, and Huck Gee. Curators John Wee Tom and The Design Exchange’s Sara Nickelson had the help of recent Grammy winner Pharrell Williams, who is a big fan of conceptual toys.

Here’s a slideshow of some of the works that will be on display, from the intriguing to the downright bizarre. The exhibition runs until May 19, and tickets are $18.90 each.

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Slideshow: a preview of Elevated, the AGO’s new exhibition of contemporary art that’s opening this week

PHOTOS: Elevated, a new contemporary-art exhibition, opens soon at the AGO

Seeing walls loaded with works by big-name, canonical artists from the early part of the 20th century is a great thing, and the Art Gallery of Ontario has plenty of that going at the moment. But there’s also something to be said for exposing oneself to artwork of a more recent vintage. That’s where the gallery’s upcoming exhibition, Elevated: Contemporary Art in the AGO Tower, comes in.

Opening on January 29, Elevated will consist of art made since 1970, much of it newly acquired by the AGO. Among the works on display will be photos by Anne Collier, who is known for her images of found objects. Another piece, an installation by Cuban artist Wilfredo Prieto titled One, will consist of an enormous pile of fake diamonds, with precisely one real diamond somewhere in the mix.

Here are some images of those works, as well as others that will be on view as part of the exhibition.

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Slideshow: the Gladstone Hotel’s weird makeover for Come Up To My Room 2014

Weird interior design takes over the Gladstone Hotel at Come Up To My Room 2014

Each year, for its annual Come Up To My Room event, the Gladstone Hotel temporarily transforms itself into a kind of art-world funhouse. Many parts of the building, but especially the rooms on the second floor, get sublimely strange makeovers by different designers, and visitors are free to wander through. It’s like exploring a series of walk-in dioramas—some lovely, others totally demented. The experience is worthwhile in itself, but it also works as counterprogramming for the annual Interior Design Show, which is as businesslike as Come Up to My Room is dark and mysterious.

Here are some photos of this year’s Come Up To My Room installations. The event runs until Sunday, January 26, and admission costs $10.

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Slideshow: Lutz Dille’s Toronto street photography, on display at the U of T Art Centre

Lutz Dille’s 1950s street photography captures characters from the city’s gritty past

Slideshow: a sneak peek of the Lutz Dille Toronto photos on display at the Art Centre

When Lutz Dille immigrated to Toronto from Germany in 1951, he brought only $30 and his Leica IIIf camera. During the day, he worked in car washes and bowling alleys; at night, he slept at the Fred Victor Mission above the St. Lawrence Market, where he’d curl up around his camera to hide it from thieves. He got to know the city by shooting its residents. By the time he left Canada in 1980—he moved to Wales and later France, where he died in 2008—he’d built up a distinguished career as a documentary filmmaker and photojournalist, though he’s best known for his street shots, which have been collected by the National Gallery of Canada and the MoMA.

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Here are some incredible pencil drawings of historic Toronto buildings

The Gladstone Hotel. (Image: Ellen Fielding)

The Gladstone Hotel. (Image: Ellen Fielding)

Ellen Fielding, a 26-year-old photographers’ assistant, has been keeping a Tumblr called Drawing Toronto for a few months. As the name suggests, it’s full of her meticulous pencil drawings of Toronto buildings—and not just any Toronto buildings. It would be easy enough to illustrate some window-walled condo towers, but Fielding finds herself drawn to older structures with complex stonework. “I like drawing intricate masonry and all the different shapes and images that make it up,” she told us. “I like to look at a building in its separate pieces and sort of imagine the hands that put it all together.” The level of detail is remarkable. Fielding says each piece takes her about 12 hours to complete.

Here’s a selection of six of her drawings. And, of course, there are plenty more on her Tumblr.

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Slideshow: our favourite wacky and witty painted utility boxes across the city

Painted Utility Boxes

(Image: Kayla Rocca)

First, we saw a trompe d’oeil fireplace on a utility box at Queen and Victoria. Next, a whimsical piano-themed box on Bloor Street West. Then, three more eye-catching designs in the west-end. In the past few months, the city has hired local artists to decorate 20 traffic-signal cabinets across Toronto in an effort to minimize graffiti. The mini-murals, which will all be complete by the end of the October, join dozens of Bell Canada utility boxes that were gussied up as part of a similar program. The idea—to simultaneously celebrate street art and thwart vandals—has already met with success in cities like Calgary and Seattle. It‘s also a heck of a lot cooler than power washers, smartphone apps and other previous anti-graffiti measures. Here, our favourite new works of box-sized art.

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People

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A Cultural Revolution: the AGO’s Ai Weiwei exhibition proves why the Chinese artist is such a threat

A Cultural Revolution: Ai Weiwei has been tormented, beaten and jailed for his art. A major exhibition at the AGO proves why he’s such a threat

Ai Weiwei after a near-fatal beating by Chinese authorities (Image: Gao Yuan)

Ai Weiwei is the most famous artist on the planet, and like many who have held the title before (van Gogh, Picasso), his personal story may be better known than his art. Over the past five years, he has become China’s leading dissident, endlessly harassed and attacked by state authorities for creating work that seeks out the limits of expression in a country not big on the concept of artistic freedom. In him, the rebellion and the art, the life and the work, are one and the same.

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The Argument: Why we can’t stop gawking at Marina Abramović’s pain

Abramović became a performance art superstar by torturing herself and daring us to look away. Why we can’t stop watching

Marina Abramović

(Photo: Fabrizio Maltese/Contour by Getty Images)

In 2010 the Museum of Modern Art mounted a retrospective of the hardcore Serbian performance artist Marina Abramović. Young, naked artists recreated some of her most provocative pieces, while grainy video from the ’70s and ’80s projected Abramović’s greatest hits—the time she drove a van in circles for 16 hours straight, or carved a Yugoslavian red star into her stomach, whipped her back raw and lay on a crucifix made of ice.

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Current Obsession: the indie record label that launched Feist and Broken Social Scene opens up its photo album

Current Obsession: the indie record label that launched Feist and Broken Social Scene opens up its photo album

Whenever a local band or performer blows up internationally these days, it feels almost routine. For that, we can thank Arts and Crafts, the DIY label that helped make Toronto an indie-rock haven. Arts and Crafts was created a decade ago to release Broken Social Scene’s sophomore album You Forgot It in People, which turned that sprawling soap opera of a group into musical ambassadors. Mega-selling records from Stars and Feist followed, and the label soon became the home of the city’s hippest acts, plus a few rising international bands. The sudden success begat backlashes and counter-backlashes, and more than a few easily bruised egos—which just made the whole thing more fun to watch. This month, Arts and Crafts celebrates its 10th anniversary with an all-day music festival at Fort York featuring some of its biggest stars, including Feist, Cold Specks, Timber Timbre, England’s Bloc Party and a one-night-only Broken Social Scene reunion. In addition to the concert, the label is hosting an exhibition of intimate portraits by Norman Wong at a pop-up gallery on Queen West. In the photos, the musicians look cocky, confident and cool—stars of a scene that continues to break big.

ART
A&C X Norman Wong
1093 Queen St. W.
To June 15

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Contact Photography Festival Guide: 10 must-see exhibits at the world’s largest photography festival

Jonathan-Hobin-Seal-Heart

Seal Heart (from In the Playroom) by Jonathan Hobin

The Contact Photography Festival turns Toronto into a de facto art installation. For the next month, billboards, subway stations, cafes, retail stores and even airport terminals become galleries, joining institutions like the ROM and MOCCA in showcasing more than 1500 artists across 175 venues. With almost 200 exhibits spread across the city, even the savviest gallery-goer can be overwhelmed. We whittled the wonderfully massive list to 10 must-see showpieces to give you an insider edge on where to see the most awe-inspiring images, from iconic photographer Michael Snow’s mind-bending new work to the hauntingly poignant photography of up-and-coming artist Jonathan Hobin.

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Going Out: Must-see art openings in Toronto in May

Going Out: Art

(Image: courtesy of Richard Barnes)

Every month, we select the city’s best art openings. In May, we suggest Richard Barnes’s new show at Bau-Xi Photo, Newfoundland artist Christopher Platt at the Mira Godard Gallery and Doug Ischar’s sampling of photography, installation art and experimental film at Gallery 44 and Vtape.

Richard Barnes
The celebrated New York photographer has a way of seeing things the rest of us overlook. His new show’s title, Murmur, short for murmuration, refers to a flock of starlings, his primary subject. Barnes’s images of the birds swarming over Rome are both poetic and a little frightening—it’s impossible not to think of Hitchcock’s The Birds. Artwork $3,000–$7,000. May 1 to 31. Bau-Xi Photo, 324 Dundas St. W., 416-977-0400, bau-xiphoto.com.


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Current Obsession: the late shutterbug Arnaud Maggs saved his best work for last

Current Obsession: Arnaud Maggs

As an artist, Arnaud Maggs was a late bloomer. Before scoring his first exhibition at the age of 51, he worked as a graphic designer and then as a magazine photographer. Those two strains merge in his fine art photography, which followed a stubborn formula: shoot a subject hundreds of times, then present the results in an orderly grid on a white wall. Edward Burtynsky, who chaired the jury that honoured Maggs with the Scotiabank Photography Award last year, says the artist’s meticulousness rubbed off on him: “He was so demanding about everything being just so.” A show this month at the new Ryerson Image Centre—part of the Contact photography festival, and the first major public display of Maggs’ work since his death late last year at age 86—reveals how his subjects got progressively weirder over the years.

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