AGO debuts new African-based art collection


The Art Gallery of Ontario’s (AGO) new department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora is premiering a new collection: Migrations of Line.

The collection features the artwork of two African artists across two different continents and times in history. Julie Mehretu, an American contemporary artist, and Antionette Bouznnet-Stella, a 17th century French artist.

The collection is curated by Julie Crooks, who has been working at the AGO since 2017. She has showcased the work of Black artists in various collections at Toronto’s most popular art museums. Her most recent collection at the AGO features the Montgomery Collection of Caribbean Photographs.

“Global Africa and the Diaspora touches on much of what we do at the AGO. The opportunity to work collaboratively and cross-departmentally to explore the tremendous influence of African and Black artists and cultures, and to promote and share these histories, is very exciting.”

Julie Crooks, AGO curator

The AGO’s newest collection is located on in the Mulvihill Gallery on Level 1. The artwork features incredible printmaking techniques that depict a series of abstract landscapes.

Julie Mehretu is an Ethiopian-born artist specializing in etching, aquatint, spit-bite, soft-ground, drypoint and engraving. Migrations of Line features five of her etchings alongside a series of 25 prints by the 17th century French artist, Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella.

Mehretu’s work is inspired by a Dutch artist, Piet Mondrian. Her abstract painting is a reflection of the chaotic environment of the cities over the centuries. Beneath the chaos, there are details in each of the pieces that tell different stories.

“She draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, including archival photographs, urban planning grids, comics, Chinese and Japanese calligraphy, graffiti, and modernist art and architecture. Her work, like Antoinette Bouzonnet-Stella’s reproductions of Renaissance relief sculpture, bring to life the intersection of power, history and architecture.”

Alexa Greist, AGO’s associate curator and R. Fraser Elliott chair

This interactive timeline takes an in-depth look at the life and artwork of Julie Mehretu:

The AGO was able to reopen in July for their members, and timed tickets that can be booked in advance through their website. It is open Thursdays through Sundays, between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.

The government of Ontario has established the Reopening Ontario Act- Stage 2 Orders for the museums, galleries, historic sites, botanical gardens, among others that want to reopen.

According to this act, the Art Gallery of Ontario has added new tips to its visitor guidelines.

  • All visitors must keep 2 metres between each other.
  • The spaces of the gallery have a limited number of people to maintain social distance rules.
  • For all the visitors over the age of two is mandatory to wear a face mask throughout the visit.
  • Coat check is unavailable at the moment.

A popular podcast based on modern art, The Modern Art Notes Podcast, featured Julie Mehretu on this episode: