Picasso makes a big return to the Art Gallery of Ontario

Pablo Picasso’s “Deux femmes courant sur la plage (La Course)” (Two Women Running on the Beach [The Race) is one of the 147 pieces of art from the Musée National Picasso in Paris on loan to Toronto’s AGO (© Picasso Estate SODRAC (2012) © RMN/Jean-Gilles Berizzi)

Story by Rod Charles
Vacay.ca Deputy Editor

TORONTO — For the first time since 1964, the major works of Pablo Picasso will be displayed in Toronto.

An artistic prodigy, Picasso could draw before he could talk. Born in Spain on October 25, 1881, Picasso was taking art lessons from his father, an art teacher, by the time he was seven years old. By age 30 he had taken Paris — the centre of the art world — by storm.

And after all these years, the Picasso storm is as strong as ever and is showing no signs of easing up. The latest stop for his artwork is in Toronto, where a unique exhibition of his paintings — ones he kept for himself — will be displayed for the public at the Art Gallery of Ontario beginning May 1 and running through August 26. On Tuesday, the doors opened to more than 100 members of the media, who were given a sneak peek of the exhibit. The presentation covers 17,000 square feet of the AGO and consists of 147 works of art, from paintings and sculptures to prints, drawings and photographs dating from 1899 to 1972.

It’s big news in Toronto because the last Picasso show, entitled “Picasso and Man,” was held in 1964 at what was then known as The Art Gallery of Toronto. Open for five weeks, that landmark exhibition drew more than 106,000 people during its five-week run.

For those who may have been a little young to remember this event, don’t worry. There’s a special complementary exhibition happening at the gallery entitled “Look Again: Picasso and Man” and it is the first in the AGO’s new series of Look Again exhibitions devoted exclusively to celebrating the gallery’s history. On the main floor of the art gallery you will get a chance to see the archives of the 1964 show while you’re at the 2012 exhibit.

Also on display from March 24 to September 3 in the Esther & Arthur Gelber Treasury is “Making His Mark: Picasso Prints and Drawings,” a small installation of prints and drawings culled from the AGO’s collection.


Picasso is one of those famous names we know without having to fully understand the depth of his work. A cultural icon, his work covered eight decades and influenced many of his contemporaries as well as modern artists. Forms such as cubism, which he pioneered, inspired the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, while his famous works such as “Guernica” offered an artist’s insight into the conflicts that defined the turbulent period between and during the two world wars. Although we have heard stories about him and have been told about his greatness, words, whether written or spoken, don’t do the man justice. For that, you need to share space with the his work, his imagination.

“Figures au bord de la mer” (Figures on the Seashore) is a 1931 oil painting that shows Picasso’s abstract style. (Musée National Picasso, Paris © Picasso Estate SODRAC (2012) © RMN/René-Gabriel Ojéda)

This exhibition, which is only making seven stops worldwide, offers a rare perspective for AGO patrons to get up close to the life and art of Picasso. It features works from his private collection, now in the holdings of the Musée National Picasso in Paris.

“The Musée National Picasso, Paris, is a living legacy to one of the most influential and radical figures of modern art. Its collection is made up of the works the artist kept for himself and his family, making this exhibition of the collection’s masterpieces a rare glimpse of ‘Picasso’s Picassos,’” says Matthew Teitelbaum, AGO director and CEO. “We at the AGO are proud to be the only Canadian institution to present this truly unparalleled exhibition. Picasso’s artistry was constantly evolving, and this particular collection offers our members and visitors a rare opportunity to experience the entire trajectory of his artistic achievement.”

Address: 317 Dundas Street West, Toronto (see map below)
Public transportation: Take the TTC subway to St. Patrick station and walk three blocks west along Dundas Street to the museum. Or take the Dundas Street streetcar to either McCaul Street (if travelling east) or Beverly Street (if travelling west) and you will be in front of the museum. TTC tokens for subways and streetcars is $3 for one way. [Read more on how to Get Into and Around Toronto]
Telephone: 416-979-6648/1-877-225-4246 (toll-free)
Website: www.ago.net
Picasso Exhibit: Click here for more information

Art Gallery of Ontaro Hours
Monday: Closed
Tuesday, Thursday-Sunday: 10 am–5:30 pm
Wednesday: 10 am–8:30 pm

Timed-entry tickets to this family-friendly exhibition range from $16.50 for youth visitors to $25 for adults. Admission is free for AGO members and for children ages 5 and under. Tickets can be booked online by visiting ago.net/picasso.
Adults                 Picasso Masterpieces:  $25                    General Admission: $19
Senior (65+)     Picasso Masterpieces: $21                     General Admission: $16
Youth  (6-17)   Picasso Masterpieces:  $16.50             General Admission:  $11

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Rod has previously worked for Canoe.ca and is currently freelancing for Huffington Post Travel. He’s also written travel articles for the Toronto Star and Up! Magazine. Living in Toronto but raised in the small central Ontario village of Holstein, Rod is a country boy at heart who has never met a farmer’s market he didn’t like.

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