In World War II artists fled Paris and came to New York and Toronto to create a new North American art scene. The majority of these artists came to downtown New York, where they settled and began the process of building up a new foundation for the world's artistic aesthetics. Galleries began popping up all over the place.
However, under the United States new heavy censorship, artists feel constrained and restricted even within the usually very liberal confines of New York. Artists are often accused of being sympathetic to Iraq or Afghanistan. That is the reason why now, in this post-911 era, American artists are fleeing the United States and coming to Toronto. There has already been a noticeable number of new art galleries that have "popped up overnight". The list of native Toronto artists and American artists, who have recently moved to Toronto, Toronto art galleries and museums, are very extensive and getting longer and longer. It seems that Toronto art scene is becoming a new center of the art world, producing top quality art and artists.
The chic Yorkville shopping area is now a new centre for innovative art with its Gallery One, The Drabinsky Gallery, Artcore, and The Sable-Castelli Gallery (the only really edgy, avant-garde gallery among them) and the others. Queen Street West has always had its share of Toronto art galleries, coffee shops and watering holes, frequented by artists, but during the last few years, the importance of the street has doubled or even tripled from what it was ten or fifteen years ago.
Toronto public art is represented by over one hundred and ninety city-owned pieces of outdoor public art and historical monuments, located throughout the city. Situated in city parks, subway stations and on the grounds of municipal buildings, these works add both a historic and artistic element to the urban landscape. They are diverse in medium, ranging from bronze and masonry sculptures, to aluminum, polyester resin, stainless steel and concrete. The earliest piece in the collection, The Canadian Volunteers Memorial, dates back to 1870, while in the Woodbine Park one of the newer acquisitions, the Circle of Trees - A Time Piece can be found.
The city has an amazing extensive collection of fine art that dates from the middle of the 19th century to the present. Today, over two thousand moveable works of art, comprising paintings, sculptures, water colors, prints and drawings form the basis of this cultural legacy. Toronto's numerous public galleries and museums are devoted to the presentation of international contemporary and classic art. Along with the private Ydessa Hendeles Art Foundation, they are attracting a notice from art professionals around the world. These institutions are bringing contemporary art to an expanded audience within Toronto. They are educating the public, from which a generation of collectors might emerge. A public display of Toronto art collections is one of their primary objectives and today they are demonstrated in public areas of City Hall and civic centers, arts centers, community centers and offices.