Highlighting a shift, Art Gallery of Ontario acquires works by prominent women artists

With works by Judy Chicago, Tacita Dean, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Silke Otto-Knapp, the museum is one of many prioritizing acquisitions of art by women

Judy Chicago, Elizabeth Blackwell test plate, 1975 - 1978. Courtesy Art Gallery of Ontario

Intent on championing art by women, the Art Gallery of Ontario has added works to its collection by Judy Chicago, Tacita Dean, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster and Silke Otto-Knapp. The Chicago works—a suite of six preparatory pieces made for her keystone artwork, The Dinner Party (1974-79)—were donated, while the other three works were purchased by the museum.

“These artists are among the most exciting creators working today,” Stephan Jost, the museum’s director and chief executive, said in a statement. “Toronto is a global leader in conversations around gender, representation, and art, and the acquisition of these works underscores our ongoing commitment to developing the AGO Collection in meaningful, relevant ways. To us, that means collaborating with and presenting work by artists who provide new insight into issues as diverse as the challenges of First Nations communities, the experiences of the Afro-Canadian community, and the role and power of technology in society.”

The piece by Tacita Dean is a two-channel 35mm film from 2018, Antigone; the work by Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster is a 2016 video-based installation, OPERA (QM.15); and the Silke Otto-Knapp work is a 2016 painting, Monotones (Seascape).

Over the past five fiscal years, the Toronto museum spent $4.3m to acquire 71 works by women, $2m more than it spent on works by men in that same period. The shift in priorities echoes a broader trend in the museum world of devoting more money and more exhibitions to works by female artists.