Golden Age of Magic comes to Toronto

July 31, 2019

In February 2020, the Golden Age of Magic will once again emerge—this time in Toronto—in the forthcoming exhibition, Illusions: The Art of Magic at the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO).

Originally curated by Christian Vachon of the McCord Museum in Montreal, and guest curated by Magicana’s artistic director and historian David Ben, the exhibition will showcase fifty-five gorgeous, vintage posters from the Allan Slaight Collection of the McCord Museum. The exhibition celebrates magic’s greatest luminaries, including the one and only Harry Houdini, highlighting photographs, films, documents, autographs and objects once belonging to Houdini.

The AGO reveals:

The era of magic lives on in the whimsical and fantastical advertisements created for its biggest celebrities, revealing insights into the era’s fascination with spiritualism, the occult, Asia and the changing role of women.

Renowned for their daring escapes, death-defying feats, and incredible powers of levitation and mentalism, magicians of the late 19th and early 20th centuries were show business pioneers. They showcased themselves and their powers through illustrated advertisements ranging in scale from playbills to wall-sized posters. Among the first artists to tour internationally, magicians promoted themselves at every stop along the way, including in Toronto.

Acquired by the McCord Museum thanks to La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, the Allan Slaight Collection is one of the world’s largest collections of rare magic posters comprising more than 600 posters and more 1,000 documents and rare books. The collection was named in honour of the Canadian businessman and magic enthusiast Allan Slaight.

Opening in the AGO’s Sam & Ayala Zacks Pavillion on February 22, 2020, Illusions: The Art of Magic is free for AGO Members, AGO Annual Pass holders and visitors 25 years and under.

For more information, visit the Art Gallery of Ontario website.


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