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Last Saturday, Nov. 18 marked a sparkling success at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) as it celebrated the inaugural Art Bash! fundraising gala, presented by RBC. The sold-out event raised over $1 million for AGO exhibitions and programs, and featured a few surprises for guests – including the unexpected unveiling of ten prints by Andy Warhol, recently gifted to the Gallery. The new annual fundraiser, which celebrates the famous fêtes of art history, kicked off by travelling back in time to one of the most legendary locations for the art world’s movers and shakers of the 1960s with Art Bash! The Factory, named after the New York City studio of Andy Warhol.
With food, décor, fashion, and installations channeling the theme of Pop Art, Art Bash! The Factory was the perfect moment to announce an exciting gift—Andy Warhol’s iconic Campbell’s Soup I, featuring ten different flavours of soup. These prints are vibrant with sumptuously inked surfaces that highlight the clean, industrial look of the humble soup can, raising the kitchen cupboard staple to the status of an idol. This is the only complete set of Campbell’s Soup I in Toronto. The Art Gallery of Ontario is deeply grateful for the generosity of Margaret & Jim Fleck, whose recent donation of this gift has benefited the Gallery tremendously.
Visitors to the AGO will soon be able to get a taste of these Warhol works alongside its regular menu of exhibitions and collections, as they are scheduled to go on display in the New Year (details to be announced at a later date). Campbell’s Soup I joins the AGO’s existing collection of Warhol works, including silkscreen prints of celebrities such as Marilyn Monroe, Jacqueline Kennedy, Liz Taylor, Elvis and Wayne Gretzky, along with two other works related to Warhol’s series of soup cans: a screenprint from a second, related series, Campbell’s Soup II, Tomato-Beef Noodle Os and a shopping bag featuring Campbell’s Tomato Soup.
The gala, hosted by Art Bash! The Factory co-chairs Ira Gluskin and Marianne Guizzetti, brought the themes of Andy Warhol and his New York Factory studio into the AGO: disruption, innovation and artistic radicalism – as well as a sold-out crowd of sartorial superstars that would rival Edie, Viva and Ultra Violet themselves. The spirit of Pop Art, Warhol, and The Factory continues to live on through the AGO Collection, as well as the art installations that enlivened Art Bash! Photographer Mathew Guido presented the series Eye Candy, which captured the alluring magic of urban neon signs at night; Jacqueline Mak reconstructed the iconic artist in digital collage and GIF form; and WRKDEPT, a fashion design duo offered up distinct forms, shapes and attitudes that are as radical as Warhol’s art while offering subtle hints to the Factory era’s fashions. Other captivating artist projects included installations by Ness Lee, Jennifer Rowsom, Couzyn van Heuvelen, Tobias Williams and Younger Than Beyoncé Gallery, and the AGO Youth Council, alongside welcome performances by fierce drag queens Tynomi Banks (Sheldon McIntosh) and Helena Poison (Matt Fancy).
“Art Bash! was a huge success. The funds raised will support ambitious programs that allow us to spark discussion and reflection, encouraging all AGO visitors to feel welcomed, included and represented at the Gallery,” says Stephan Jost, the AGO’s Michael and Sonja Koerner Director and CEO. “I thank and congratulate everyone who contributed to the success of the evening, especially Jim Fleck whose visionary gift of the Warhol prints made for a once-in-a-lifetime moment on Saturday. What a night!”
Art Bash! raises important funds that enable the AGO to present the very best in art through a diverse and captivating collection and exhibitions program, to engage audiences in transformative experiences of learning and discovery, and to reduce and remove barriers to improve access for all visitors.
ABOUT THE AGO
Located in Toronto, Canada’s largest city of 6.5 million, the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) is one of the largest art museums in North America. The AGO’s collection of close to 95,000 works ranges from cutting-edge contemporary art such as Untilled by Pierre Huyghe to European masterpieces such as Peter Paul Rubens’s The Massacre of The Innocents; from the vast collection by the Group of Seven to works by established and emerging Indigenous Canadian artists; with a photography collection that tracks the impact of the medium with deep holdings of works by artists such as Garry Winogrand and Diane Arbus; and with focused collections in Gothic boxwood miniatures and Western and Central African art. Drawing on this collection—as well as collaborations with museums around the world—the AGO presents wide-ranging exhibitions and programs, taking special care to showcase diverse and underrepresented artists. A major expansion designed by Frank Gehry in 2008 with lead support from the family of Ken Thomson makes the AGO a highly-photographed architectural landmark. Visit ago.ca to learn more.
The Art Gallery of Ontario is funded in part by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport. Additional operating support is received from the City of Toronto, the Canada Council for the Arts and generous contributions from AGO members, donors and private-sector partners.