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American Artist Barbara Kruger to Appropriate Art Gallery of Ontario Facade

TORONTO.- The Art Gallery of Ontario’s Dundas Street façade is about to get a new look. In partnership with Scotiabank CONTACT Photography Festival, the AGO has commissioned renowned American artist Barbara Kruger to create a large-scale public installation to be displayed along the Gallery’s signature glass skirt, which spans an entire city block between McCaul and Beverley Streets.

The installation will respond to CONTACT’s theme for 2010, “Pervasive Influence,” which considers how photography informs and transforms human behavior, especially via the medium’s connections to mass media, advertising, consumerism, and propaganda. Kruger’s installation, on view from May 1 through August 30, marks the first time the AGO has exhibited artwork on the exterior of its newly transformed Frank Gehry–designed building.

“The AGO is committed to making great works of art accessible to everyone, and this installation is an innovative and exciting realization of that commitment,” says Matthew Teitelbaum, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director, and CEO. “Barbara Kruger’s bold visual style, combined with the sheer scale and prominence of the location, make this an installation that our visitors—and Torontonians on the whole—won’t soon forget.”

The work “represents a tremendous expansion of CONTACT’s public installation program,” notes CONTACT artistic director Bonnie Rubenstein. “This project is the most ambitious co-presentation in CONTACT’s history and a very exciting development in our longstanding relationship with the AGO, one of North America’s most significant cultural properties.”

Public installations of Kruger’s instantly recognizable work have punctuated galleries, museums, municipal buildings, train stations, parks, buses, and billboards around the world. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the MoMA, the Guggenheim, Tate Modern, the Whitney, and the AGO, among other institutions.

“Barbara Kruger’s graphic works—declarative texts juxtaposed with found images—point to photography’s complicity in reinforcing ideologies of power and control, in maintaining gender stereotypes, and in stimulating consumer desire,” says AGO assistant curator of photography Sophie Hackett. “In light of CONTACT’s 2010 theme, and as the boundaries between advertising, journalism, and entertainment shift and blur, it feels like the right time to consider Kruger’s potent messages.”

Born in Newark, New Jersey, Kruger trained at Syracuse University and the Parsons School of Design in New York in the mid-1960s before pursuing a successful career as a graphic designer and art director for such magazines as Mademoiselle and House and Garden. By the 1980s, she had transmuted that training into her artworks, developing an unmistakable—and unforgettable—style. Kruger continues to exhibit her work internationally. She lives and works in New York and Los Angeles, and is represented by the Mary Boone Gallery, New York.

Kruger’s installation is one of several ways that visitors to the AGO can experience art without paying admission. Toronto Now, the Gallery’s recently opened series of exhibitions focusing on Toronto artists, is on view free of charge in the Young Gallery during FRANK’s hours of operation. Additionally, the AGO is free to the public Wednesday evenings from 6 pm to 8:30 pm, and the “Free After 3” program welcomes Ontario high school students with a valid school ID from Tuesday to Friday, from 3 pm to 5:30 pm.

The Art Gallery of Ontario | Barbara Kruger | Sonja Koerner |

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