I admit that I have never taken a lot of time to learn the finer points of art appreciation. I am a person of basic tastes and I appreciate a painting (or sculpture) that looks like what it represents. Within this limited frame of reference, I was greatly impressed with the Art Gallery of Ontario.
In additions to galleries hung with the works of masters that even I have heard of, there are many areas displaying Canadian art. Some of this art displays incredible story-telling characteristics. I recall one entitled (words the the effect of) "Morning after Merrymaking in Lower Canada" - It looks like morning in a college dorm, plus horses and "upsot" sleighs (a recurring theme in early Canadian art seems to be a turned over sleighs - "upsot" in Jingle Bells terms).
The gallery also is home to a stunning collection of Christian religious items - including cups, small sculptures, crucifixes, etc. While not a religious person myself, I can't help but be impressed by unbelievable skill and craftsmanship that went into these pieces.
There are also exhibits of contemporary art on the 4th and 5th floors. These are not my cup of tea - one room the size of a school gymnasium contained four items which look to me like splatters made while cleaning one's brush. But, I am not skilled at evaluating art.
The building is a work of art in itself, with truly impressive architecture. Walk up from the 4th to the 5th floor - I dare you! The floors are far greater than normal height and the spiral stair goes around and around - the equivalent of about 5 normal floors!
I spent about 4 hours at the AGO, and could have spent more had time permitted. Like any similar facility, the main negative is loud school groups, but there is not escaping these. To a true art scholar, days could likely be invested in this facility.
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