Winter / new year visit to the AGO for special exhibitions on Michaelangelo & Alex Colville
Our friends Pete & Carrie have an AGO membership, and we’d been needing to catch up with them for a while, so as special exhibitions are wrapping up at the AGO we decided we’d all head along. First of all while we waited for our timed tickets to kick off, we took a wander through Art Spiegelman’s Co-Mix: a Retrospective.
I have, despite meaning to for an extremely long time, never read Maus. I will change that fact in 2015 after seeing so much of the information, sketches and pages relating to it in this exhibition. I know it’s his best-know work but it truly was the most interesting part of the exhibition for me, seeing the background of the story and what went into it, and looking at the pages sprawled out in the display cases – sometimes with their studies – was incredible. I enjoyed seeing the development of his early work, and especially liked the stuff from his later years like the New Yorker covers, and the kids books. Definitely worth a visit to appreciate one of the comic masters of our time.
We took a leisurely stroll back downstairs to hit up Michelangelo: Quest for Genius after that. It’s no doubt that Michelangelo was, as well as being an excellent Ninja Turtle, an extraordinary man and artist. The sketches were a very interesting portal into his process and seeing his skill even at the most basic level before painting and sketching, especially the studies. But overall the exhibit, while it had a few really gorgeous pieces, was stretched thin. It was padded with a lot of Rodin (who took inspiration from Michelangelo) which I found really distracting not only content-wise but for how the exhibition flowed. That tenuous link lus the lack of real Michelangelo content left me disappointed.
Our last port of call was the Alex Colville retrospective, which was enormous! I had no idea who Alex Colville was, not being Canadian or hugely knowledgeable about art – it was fantastic to see though! Such an amazing scope of work – it was interesting to see his earlier work, especially the work during the war. But I really preferred the style of his later work – it was so clean and crisp, that’s the only way I can think to describe it. Especially the stuff that involved any of the Canadian landscape stuff, and the work with animals. My only gripe with this exhibition was the level of pretentious writing on the intro/interpretive labels. I fully understand that writing about art is very subjective, but there was very little practical information and what was there was overwhelmed by florid, overwrought descriptions and flourish. Otherwise a fantastic, comprehensive exhibition – what a great introduction to a top Canadian artist!