Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918

I excitedly headed out on an excursion with my parents the other morning. A visit to a well-respected art gallery to view an exhibition I was dying to see; followed by lunch. Sounds perfect, doesn't it? And it was, except for the fact that we didn't make it to that gallery, or that exhibit.

After some minutes on the highway I asked my Dad which route he was planning on taking. His answer confused me, and it was then that I realized we weren't going where I thought we were going. Our wires had gotten crossed. Translation: I received the invitation from my Mother, and God love her, she really didn't know where we were going, other than to look at art and then to hit the main event - lunch.

My Dad, the first and most impressionable lifelong learner that I've ever had the joy to know, had his sights set on getting to The AGO to see The Great Upheaval before it left Toronto at the end of the weekend and returned to its home at The Guggenheim in New York. And although I had had my sights set on a totally different collection, I was very moved by these European pieces from 1910-1918 and was so  happy that I hadn't missed them.

From the AGO website:

Historically, it is a period that has always fascinated me. And I found putting the artwork into that context an intriguing and enjoyable exercise. It was extremely busy on Friday morning - well-behaved school groups mixed with a very large public gallery of viewers. It wasn't always easy to stand exactly where one would prefer to stand, but I guess that's a good sign, and was to be expected.

The pieces that stood out the most for me? I think I would have to say the works of Vasily Kandinsky. On such a frigid winter day (yes, it's still winter and still frigid in Ontario), I really appreciated the use of such vibrant colours. It certainly enticed me to do some further reading on the artist once I returned home.

And that other gallery with the other exhibition? That would be the Mary Pratt show at the McMichael in Kleinburg, Ontario. Lucky for me, I have until April 27 to make it to that one.

By the way, our lunch was absolutely fantastic and enjoyed by all.


  1. Wow, sounds like a terrific exhibit! I can't believe these paintings are 100 years old - I still don't think of the 19-teens as being a CENTURY ago, mostly because it still feels like a few months ago we were ringing in the new millenium. What a fascinating period of history 1910-1918 was, and the video you included really gets that across too. I think that's why I loved the first season of Downton so much (the next few kinda jumped the shark for me) - there was just SO much going on in the period between 1910-1918. The world was changing, from art to politics to fashion to civil rights to how we fought wars, and how thrilling, exciting and frightening that must have been!

    1. Yes, I was actually thinking, while viewing the exhibition, what a good job Downton did in that first season - capturing that sense of a world in upheaval.

  2. Funny you should be mentioning these two shows as they are two of my favourites from the winter as well. I loved Mary Pratt even more than I expected and may try to get back for a second viewing before it leaves.

    On a separate note, I'd love to tell you about an upcoming art show - is there a way I can get in touch with you other than posting publicly here?

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. There is still time for me to get to the Mary Pratt exhibit, and I am hoping to do that in the next few weeks. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

      Please feel free to contact me at

  3. Did you make it to the McMichael in the end? Did I ever tell you I visited it just after staying with you in October? I really liked the permanent collection.

  4. No, Iain, sadly I was not able to make a trip to the Mary Pratt exhibit this spring. I will have to go back to St. John's some day and see her work at The Rooms. I am happy that you were able to get to the McMichael while you were here. It is such an excellent representation of Canadiana.


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