In Conjunction with Light: The Plastics Exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario, 1967

I wrote this article as part of the Art Museum at the University of Toronto’s digital spotlight series for the exhibition Plastic Heart: Surface All the Way Through.

Excerpt: “In Fall 1967, the Women’s Committee at the Art Gallery of Ontario arranged the exhibition Plastics, featuring the work of a number of Canadian and US artists.[I] Plastics was billed as the first exhibition in Canada devoted to the theme of plastics in contemporary art, and it was in fact one of the first altogether, beating out dozens of major exhibitions over the next decade[II] that would focus on “exploring the seemingly limitless possibilities in plastic.” Though attracting numerous well-known artists ranging from Joyce Wieland to Claes Oldenburg,[III] and from Les Levine to IAIN BAXTER&, the fact that the exhibition was organized as a fundraiser by the Women’s Committee, and held in the Art Rental Gallery in the basement rather than a traditional gallery space, seems to have blinded AGO’s administration to its importance and innovation. Looking back at this exhibition from 2021, what was it about plastics that drew the attention of the Women’s Committee? What did they learn about plastics through their research? And what can we glean today from their initial investigations and work with artists?”

Read the whole article here.

About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.

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