Unleash Your Inner Rebel With December’s First Thursdays at the AGO

Sick of being in the holiday spirit already? Then tap into your rebellious spirit at The Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) this Thursday, December 5th for their monthly First Thursday art party and celebrate some of the most daring rebels of Western art. The Gallery invites partygoers to toast the avant-garde artists who changed the face of 20th Century art forever in honour of The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918.

Featuring over 60 works by 36 artists including Kandinsky, Picasso, Modigliani and Chagall, The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 explores several years of unprecedented social, political and technological change through painting and sculpture. Of course, in typical First Thursday fashion, the evening’s performances and art-making activities will be inspired by the art of the era. There will also be cocktails and nudity; do we have your attention yet?

Literally loosen your tie, put your hair down, shake off the workday and leave those inhibitions at the door as programming inspired by pieces such as Modigliani’s famous Nude takes over the Gallery. This means that Toronto dance artist Benjamin Kamino will strip down to deliver a memorable performance entitled Nudity. Desire – Long drawn at 7:30pm. Inspired specifically by Kandinsky, Kamino’s choreography communicates the influence of nakedness and desire on human communication and identity; it will be presented in a special extended performance including excerpts from Kandinsky’s greatest musical influences.


Another highlight includes nude life drawing, which is back by popular demand in Galleria Italia, and offers a chance to interact with the human form in a whole new way. Just be mature about it (gents, we’re looking at you).

Toronto’s own Julie Doiron will perform her unique and Juno Award-winning brand of folk music in Walker Court at 9:30pm. Before and after Doiron’s performance, DJ Kieran Adams of revered indie pop trio DIANA will throw down a set of danceable beats.

Perhaps the best part about First Thursdays is that guests can create their own art. Paying homage to the new compositions of the early 20th century, musicians from the Royal Conservatory of Music will lead a multisensory art-making experience inside The Great Upheaval all night long. Solo performances by a violinist, cellist and harpist, each lasting 45 minutes, will inspire party-goers to sketch what they hear, see and feel.

AGO artist-in-residence Sara Angelucci will give a pop-up talk about her intervention into the Gallery’s Canadian collection, entitled Aviary, which explores the extinction of the passenger pigeon in the early 20th century. And Toronto artist Adam Bunch will debut a series of postcards that relate to works in the Canadian collection created at the time of The Great Upheaval.

Original drawings by Chagall, Matisse, Braque, Modigliani and other artists who were fuelled by the tremendous social and political change of the 20th century will be on view for one night only in the Out of the Vault series. The Marvin Gelber Print and Drawing Study Centre offers a behind-the-scenes look at the modern art movement in Europe from 1910 to 1955 through these specially selected pieces from the AGO collection.


It isn’t just about the art, though – it’s Thursday night, after all. Cocktails and pints will be available at bars throughout the Gallery while guests can expect special concoctions served up in the Drambuie Lounge on the first floor. Be a rebel and break your diet for the evening; truffle popcorn, porcetta sandwiches and cronuts are on this month’s menu alongside fish and chips and deep fried mac’n’cheese bars.

Tickets for December’s First Thursday are on sale now. Regular-priced tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. Admission for AGO members is $10 in advance and $13 at the door. The Great Upheaval: Masterpieces from the Guggenheim Collection, 1910-1918 will be on view for a special First Thursdays upgrade price of $10. Book tickets online by clicking here.

For details about First Thursdays, click here and follow #AGO1st on Twitter and Instagram.

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