“Art doesn’t change me; it’s what I’m doing. It’s rarely that an influence from my art determines the way I live; it’s usually the other way around. The way I live determines what I do in my art – if they can be distinguished, and I don’t think they can really be distinguished.” 1976
Greg Curnoe, known primarily as a painter, also experimented with sculpture, video, and photography. He was an ardent regionalist, and vocal artist activist. He encouraged artists to find their muse from within their own everyday experience.
As a child Curnoe enjoyed copying images from popular comic books as well as creating his own comic book characters and stories. He was also interested in the details of the world around him, and would spend hours tracking and recording everyday events in his neighbourhood. His interest in the bright colour palette of his comic books, and in recording the minutia of the world around him, would stay with him into adult life. View of Victoria Hospital, Second Series (February 10, 1969 - March 10, 1971)
He attended the H.B. Beal Technical and Commercial High School in London, Ontario. Following graduation he attended the Doon School of Fine Arts in Kitchener, and the Ontario College of Art, in Toronto (1957-1960), where he developed an interest for Dada art. In Toronto he met noted Dada scholar Michel Sanouillet, who would later organize a meeting between Curnoe and famed artist Marcel Duchamp. In 1960, upon his return to London, his practice took a major shift - he began to use lettered stamping in his work. A practice he would continue for years to come.
Curnoe was a highly motivated artist-community organizer. In 1961 he and a circle of friends launched “The Region” magazine, and shortly thereafter opened The Region Art Gallery. In 1963 he was one of the founders of the Nihilist Party of Canada. Two years later he was instrumental in the organization of the Nihilist Spasm Band described as “an unconventional collection of music makers that created music on home-made instruments.” The Camouflaged Piano or French Roundels "
From the early 1960’s to the late 1970’s Curnoe’s career flourished, with major national travelling shows, invitations to the Biennale de Paris, the Sao Paulo Biennial as well as the Venice Biennale. In 1967 he received a prestigious mural commission from the Dorval International Airport in Montreal. The mural, Homage to the R 34
was widely criticized and was later removed amidst a flurry of controversy. In the 1970’s Curnoe took up competitive cycling and images of the bicycle began to proliferate his oeuvre, Doc Morton Bicycle Wheel
Curnoe’s life was tragically cut short in 1992, when he was fatally hit by a truck while riding his bike with his cycling club.