Mystical Landscapes Art G allery of Ontario, Octob er 22, 2016—J anuary 29, 2017 RS: There are some pretty big works of art included in this exhibition. Which are the gallery’s biggest gets?
The latest exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario ( AGO) took five years to develop and features works from Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh, Georgia O’Keeffe, James McNeill Whistler, Emily Carr and more. With close to 90 paintings from 36 artists across 15 countries, these works from 1880 to 1930 explore the artists’ searches for spirituality through mystical experiences. AGO’s senior interpretive planner David Wistow gives Real Style the inside scoop on the new exhibition.
Real Style: How did this exhibition come about?
David Wistow: This exhibition is groundbreaking in the sense that there has been little scholarly work done to date on the subject of mysticism, nature and art during the period 1880 to 1930. When AGO’s curator Katharine Lochnan began work on this project, she started by noticing patterns of thought and behaviour among many artists, and set out to understand what questions these artists were asking themselves. It is interesting that these artists— in Europe, in North America and Scandinavia— all turned their backs on the rampant materialism of the time, and widespread social and political conflict. Instead they sought answers to the big questions of life, beyond the everyday: What is the purpose of life? What is our place in the universe? How can we achieve spiritual fulfillment?
Through much research and travel and personal encounters, the team finally identified 36 painters from 15 countries who were deeply committed to sharing their spiritual connection to nature and the cosmos through art.
RS: What can visitors expect from the show?
DW: There are so many amazing components to this exhibition. The masterpieces by Monet will be a major highlight, [ but there’s] also a room of mystical landscape prints installed to encourage quiet contemplation. The climax of the exhibition features powerful and mysterious images of the cosmos, including works by American artist Georgia O’Keeffe and one of the Czech Republic’s most revered painters, Wenzel Hablik. DW: Perhaps the most famous work is van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone from New York’s MOMA, although it’s in competition with a fantastic Gauguin painting— The Yellow Christ, on loan from Buffalo’s Albright- Knox Art Gallery. The AGO is thrilled to have secured eight Monet paintings for the show. This is a huge achievement and should be very exciting for our visitors.