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Artist

Munn, Kathleen Jean, 1887-1974

  • AGOAC00423
  • Persona
  • 1887 - 1974

Kathleen Jean Munn (1887-1974) was a modernist Canadian painter active in Toronto between the World Wars. She was the youngest of six children born to a Toronto jeweler who died when she was four (of an infection caused by the impact from a champagne cork) leaving her mother to manage the family business. Her talent for drawing was encouraged by her maternal grandmother, an accomplished amateur painter, and she was sent to study at the Westbourne School with F. McGillivray Knowles from 1904 to 1907. Knowles encouraged personal expression and an understanding of the principles of art and Munn thrived in this environment. In 1909 she began to exhibit Barbizon inspired landscapes at the OSA, RCA and CNE exhibitions, moving through periods influenced by Whistler, Corot, Puvis de Chavannes and the post-impressionists. About 1912 Munn first traveled to New York to study at the Art Student’s League and in 1914 she was awarded first prize at the Summer School in Woodstock NY. In 1915-16 she began a series of landscapes in which she showed a mastery of modernist techniques. Her association with the Art Student’s League, whose teachers were early proponents of modernism, was an important influence. Her notebooks show that she was reading extensively and broadly in the areas of literature, philosophy and aesthetics. She studied Jay Hambridge’s mathematical principles, the concept of ‘dynamic symmetry’ and Denman Ross’s colour theory. She seems to have been drawn to writers who proposed an underlying system of order and logic as a basis for individual expression. She also toured Britain and the major art centres of continental Europe in 1920, accompanied by her sister, and this trip seems to have encouraged her quest for a means to express religious and spiritual themes in a contemporary fashion. She was ultimately uncomfortable with complete abstraction and believed that art should express a larger purpose, influenced by readings of Blavatsky, Blake, Whitman, and others. The Group of Seven shared her interest in the spiritual content of painting but she was intolerant of their nationalism; of her contemporaries she formed the closest bonds with Bertram Brooker and Lemoine Fitzgerald. Her studio, in a large room overlooking the ravine at the family home at 320 Spadina Avenue, was visited often by Brooker. The household consisted of three unmarried siblings: Will (Jr.), who ran the family business, May, a teacher who ran the household, and Kathleen. During the 1920’s she began to work on a series of paintings that explored Christian themes and she devoted the 1930’s to the subject of the Passion. Two major drawings from this series were purchased by the Art Gallery of Ontario in 1945. She exhibited a number of these drawings with Fitzgerald and Brooker at the Malloney Galleries in Toronto in 1935 but there as little critical response. Discouragement at her lack of critical success, combined with the death of her brother in 1935 and her sister’s increasing disability, led to the end of her artistic output around 1939. Most of her work remained in family hands. The Art Gallery of Toronto exhibited her Passion drawings in several group shows in the 1940’s and the Willistead Art Gallery in Windsor included her Ascension in a 1954 show of drawings. She died twenty years later, in October 1974.

Vale, Florence

  • AGOAC0043
  • Persona
  • 1909-2003

Florence Vale, Canadian artist, was born on April 18, 1909 in llford, Essex, England and died on July 23, 2003 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Her family immigrated to Toronto two years after her birth, where she grew up with an interest in music. She married artist Albert Franck on June 8, 1929, and together they bought a house on Hazelton Avenue in Toronto which became a centre for artists, writers, musicians, and critics. Florence Vale was the mother of two children, Trudy (who died as an infant) and Anneke.
Florence Vale began to paint with her husband’s paints and brushes in the late 1940’s with no previous artistic training – only what she had learned under the influence of her husband and the artists who visited her home. Her art was influenced by Surrealism, Cubism, Expressionism, and the works of Paul Klee. After her husband’s death in 1973, Florence Vale continued to express her artistic ability with oil paints, collages, and ink, also including her own poetry in some of her works. Many of her works, most prominently after the death of her husband, were erotic, while still viewed by critics as keeping a whimsical, innocent tone. Her art appeared in exhibitions throughout Ontario, with exhibitions also in Quebec and New York, U.S.A. She was associated with the Gadatsy Gallery, Toronto.

Markle, Robert, 1936-1990

  • AGOAC00431
  • Persona
  • 1936-1990

Robert Nelson Markle, Canadian artist, writer, educator and musician, was born in Hamilton, Ontario in 1936 and died in Holstein, Ontario in 1990. He began his studies at the Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1954, but was expelled before graduation. While at OCA, he met Marlene Shuster, a fellow student, whom he married in 1958. The focus of Markle’s work from his early days was the female nude, particularly burlesque dancers, and Marlene became his primary model and muse. In 1962 Markle had his first group exhibition at The Isaacs Gallery in Toronto, becoming one of the “Isaacs Group” of artists. In 1965, Markle paintings shown in the exhibition Eros ’65 at the Dorothy Cameron Gallery were seized on a charge of obscenity, drawing considerable media attention. In the mid-1960s Markle began to write for magazines such as the Toronto Telegram Showcase, Maclean’s, and Toronto Life, publishing widely on topics as diverse as striptease, hockey, childhood Christmases, and Gordon Lightfoot. Markle also worked extensively as an illustrator, contributing images to magazines and literary journals. His work as an educator included terms at The New School of Art (1966-1977) and Arts’ Sake (1977-1982) as well as OCA and the University of Guelph. From the early 1960s, Markle played tenor saxophone and piano in the Artists’ Jazz Band. In 1970 the Markles moved to a farmhouse outside of Holstein, Ontario, although Robert re-established a studio in Toronto from 1979 to 1982. In 1979, he won a commission to decorate a Toronto hamburger restaurant, which was named Markleangelo’s in his honour. His other large-scale commissions include wall-sculptures for the Ellen Fairclough Building in Hamilton, Ontario, and the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. He executed painted outdoor murals in Owen Sound and Mount Forest, Ontario. Markle was killed in a traffic accident in 1990. Of Mohawk ancestry, Markle used his mother’s spelling of his surname, although it was spelled “Maracle” on his birth certificate. Markle worked primarily in painting and ink drawing, and also explored photography, collage, printmaking, wooden sculpture and neon. He collected folk art, which inspired a number of whirligig works later in his career. His work is in numerous public and private collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario and the National Gallery of Canada.

Iskowitz, Gershon

  • AGOAC00461
  • Persona
  • 1921-1988

Gershon Iskowitz (1921-1988) was an abstract painter based in Toronto for much of his artistic career. Born in Kielce, Poland, he survived internment in Nazi concentration camps and lost his entire family in the Holocaust. Iskowitz studied art in Munich at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in 1947, soon transferring to private studies with Oskar Kokoschka. He moved to Toronto in 1949. His work developed from wartime imagery to a focus on landscapes (particularly inspired by practice in the Parry Sound area), eventually arriving at his mature abstract expressionist style in 1967. Iskowitz began exhibiting with Gallery Moos in 1964, a relationship which continued throughout his career. He taught at the New School (Toronto) from 1967-1970, and his informal mentoring of artists in Toronto is often noted. Iskowitz, along with Walter Redinger, represented Canada at the Venice Biennale in 1972. The artist established the Gershon Iskowitz Foundation in 1985, with the mandate of awarding the Gershon Iskowitz Prize to a mature practising artist; since 2007 the Foundation has partnered with the Art Gallery of Ontario to administer the Gershon Iskowitz Prize at the AGO.

Challener, Frederick S., 1869-1959

  • AGOAC00487
  • Persona
  • 1869 - 1959

Frederick Sproston Challener, painter, was born in Whetstone, England in 1869 and came to Canada in 1870. He studied at the Ontario School of Art, was first exhibited in 1900 at the Royal Canadian Academy and subsequently worked as a newspaper artist. After a tour of Europe and the Middle East in 1898-99, he began working as a muralist and participated in the decoration of the recently completed Toronto City Hall. At the end of the First World War, Challener worked as a painter for the Canadian War Records Department. He made his career chiefly by creating murals for passenger boats, restaurants, hotels—such as Fort Rouillé in the King Edward Hotel,Toronto—office buildings and theatres, including the Royal Alexandra Theatre in Toronto. He also produced easel paintings, watercolours and drawings in a realistic, romantic style. From 1927-1952 he taught at the Ontario College of Art, during which period he made notes and assembled material on Canadian artists. He died in Toronto in 1959. Challener was a member of numerous arts organizations including the Toronto Art Students’ League, Ontario Society of Artists, Royal Canadian Academy, Society of Mural Decorators of Toronto and the Arts and Letters Club of Toronto (founding member, 1908). His work is in the National Gallery of Canada, the Civic Art Gallery, Winnipeg, the Art Gallery of Ontario and numerous public buildings.

Snow, Michael, 1929-

  • AGOAC00562
  • Persona
  • 1929 -

Michael James Aleck Snow (1929- ) is a Canadian painter, sculptor, filmmaker, photographer and musician. He was born in Toronto and educated at Upper Canada College and subsequently at the Ontario College of Art (1948-1952). After travels in Europe (1953-54) he worked for Graphic Films in Toronto (1955-56), producing his first independent film, A-Z. His first solo exhibition as a painter was at the Greenwich Gallery in Toronto in 1956. Between 1961 and 1967, mostly while living in New York, Snow produced work in the Pop-art mode based on the silhouette of a young woman, entitled Walking Woman, probably his most widely recognized creation. A series of 11 stainless steel sculptures of the image was created for the Ontario pavilion at Expo 67 and is now in the collection of the Art Gallery of Ontario. After moving to New York in 1964, he made films regarded as Minimalist, such as New York Ear and Eye Control (1964) and Wavelength (1966-67). Returning to Toronto in 1972, Snow worked mainly on cinematic and photographic projects including ‘Rameau’s Nephew’ by Diderot (Thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen. His work is concerned with the nature of media themselves, with perception and with the interrelation of language, sound and meaning. Snow has been the subject of exhibitions and retrospectives in Toronto, Vancouver and Paris.

Zuck, Tim, 1947-

  • AGOAC00599
  • Persona
  • 1947 -

Timothy Melvin Zuck, Canadian artist and educator, was born in 1947 in Erie, Pennsylvania. He attended Wilmington College from 1966-1967 and 1968-1969. There he majored in philosophy and psychology and took a few courses in art history and sculpture. In 1967-1968, Zuck joined his parents on a year-long mission to India, where he studied at Madras Christian College. Zuck received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (NSCAD) in 1971. While at NSCAD, he did performance, film, photographic and other process-oriented and conceptual projects. In Halifax Zuck met and married Robyn Randell. He then earned his Master of Fine Arts from the California Institute of the Arts in Valencia, California in 1972. After completing his graduate studies, Zuck returned to NSCAD in late 1972, where he was Assistant Professor until 1979. While teaching at NSCAD, he continued to work on his conceptual projects. In 1975, Zuck began to focus on painting, in which he had no formal training. In 1979, he resigned from NSCAD and began to paint full-time in Purcell’s Cove, near Halifax, Nova Scotia. Zuck became a Canadian citizen in 1983. The Zucks moved from Purcell’s Cove to Kingston, Ontario, where they lived from 1982-1984 and then lived for three years in downtown Toronto, where their daughter, Anna, was born in 1985. They then moved to Midland, Ontario. In addition to taking part in many artist expeditions, Zuck won a poster competition for the XV Olympic Winter Games in 1988 in Calgary, Alberta. He moved to Calgary in 2002 to teach at the Alberta College of Art and Design. Tim Zuck is represented by the Sable-Castelli Gallery in Toronto, Ontario and the Paul Kuhn Gallery in Calgary, Alberta. His work has been included in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Canada, the United States and Europe, and may be found in the collections of numerous Canadian galleries and museums.

Boyle, John B., 1941-

  • AGOAC00689
  • Persona
  • 1941 -

John Bernard Boyle (1941- ) is an artist, activist, curator and writer who has lived and worked in St. Catharines, London, Elsinore, and Peterborough, Ontario. He married Janet Perlman, with whom he has one daughter, Emily. Boyle was educated at London Teachers’ College and the University of Western Ontario, and is self-taught as a painter. He taught elementary school in St. Catharines intermittently between 1962 and 1968. In 1974 he moved with his family to a converted church in Elsinore, Ontario (near Owen Sound), where he had his studio until 2002. He is currently based in Peterborough. Boyle began to exhibit his paintings in 1964, the same year he was inspired by meeting London artists including Jack Chambers and Greg Curnoe. In 1966 controversy arose at the London Public Library and Art Museum over Boyle’s exhibited piece Seated Nude. Boyle was an early participant in London’s 20/20 Gallery. In 1972 he designed sets for the play Buffalo Jump at Theatre Passe Muraille, Toronto; that same year he curated the first Billboard Show in St. Catharines. In 1980 Boyle completed the mural Our Knell for Queen Subway Station, Toronto. From 1973 through the 1990s, Boyle exhibited regularly at Nancy Poole’s Studio, Toronto. A key figure among the artist activists who established professional representation and rights for artists in the early 1970s, Boyle was the founding spokesperson of Canadian Artists Representation Ontario (CARO) in 1971. In 1970 he served as the first president of the Niagara Artists Co-operative (later Company). Boyle was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Art Gallery of Ontario, 1975-1977. Boyle has written extensively in journals including 20 Cents Magazine, Parachute, and Twelve Mile Creek. His regular column “According to Boyle” in CAROT (1975-78) dealt with challenges facing artists. Boyle has written three novels, No Angel Came (1995); and the unpublished The Gergovnians and The Peregrinations and Permutations of a Young Artist in Canada. His illustration and book design work includes The Port Dalhousie Stories by Dennis Tourbin (1987), as well as several magazine articles and book jackets. He initiated the discipline of “Canadology” in 1989 to record the social customs of the country. Boyle is a founding member (since 1965) and principal kazooist of The Nihilist Spasm Band. His work is represented in numerous Canadian collections, including the National Gallery, the Art Gallery of Ontario and the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

Kindlund, Anna Belle Wing, 1876-1922

  • AGOAC04376
  • Persona
  • 1876 - 1922

Anna Belle Wing Kindlund (later Mrs. Alois Trnka), 1876-1922, was an artist born in Buffalo, New York. She studied with W. Hitchcock in Buffalo, and G. Bridgman in New York. She was a member of the Buffalo Society of Artists and the New York Society of Craftsmen, and is listed in Who Was Who in American Art as a painter and miniaturist.

Varley, Frederick Horsman, 1881-1969

  • AGOACO00854
  • Persona
  • 1881-1969

Frederick Horsman Varley, painter, was born in Sheffield, England in 1881. He studied at the Sheffield School of Art 1892–1900, and at the Koninklijk Akademie voor Shone Kunsten (Académie royale des beaux-arts) in Antwerp for the following two years. After working as an illustrator and art teacher in England, he immigrated to Canada and obtained work as a commercial illustrator in Toronto in 1912, the same year he first exhibited his art work at the Canadian National Exhibition. In 1914, Varley joined Tom Thomson, A.Y. Jackson and Arthur Lismer on sketching trip to Algonquin Park in Ontario. Some of his most famous works resulted from his association with these artists. He participated in the War Art program after the war in 1918 and was a founding member of the Group of Seven in 1920. Although he painted numerous landscapes, his interest lay more in portraiture, which he pursued during the 1920s. Varley moved to Vancouver in 1926 to teach at the School of Decorative and Applied Arts. His landscapes from this period are marked by fine draftsmanship, exotic colour and unusual vantage points. In 1933 he and J.W.G. Macdonald opened their own school, the British Columbia College of Arts, which closed in 1935. Varley lived subsequently in Ottawa and Montreal, returning in 1944 to Toronto. The Art Gallery of Ontario held a retrospective of his work in 1954. He died in Toronto in 1969. Varley was a member of the Arts and Letters Club, Toronto. His work is in numerous Canadian public collections.

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