Tony Urquhart

"Whether old master or contemporary, all of the works of art I most admire seem to have one thing in common -- an `after image' ...something about the painting that lingers in the mind and makes one want to come back to it." (1965)

Tony Urquhart gained recognition early in his career as a pioneer of abstract painting. In the 1960s he distanced himself from the London Group to create his now-famous box sculptures, Temple I, inspired by religious art and architecture.

Starting in 1954, he studied at the Albright Art School, at the State University of New York, Buffalo, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in 1958. He also attended the Yale Norfolk Summer School in New Haven. He became the first artist-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, London, in 1960. He became full professor of Fine Art at the University of Waterloo (Ontario) in 1972, teaching drawing, painting and printmaking. He also served periodically as the head of that department until his retirement in 1999.

Shortly after the late Jack Chambers created CARFAC (Canadian Artists' Representation/Le Front des artistes canadiens), he enlisted Kim Ondaatje and Tony Urquhart in the cause of defending the rights of professional artists. For many years, the three crossed the country, meeting with artists and representatives from galleries and museums to establish a fee structure similar to the one used by actors and musicians. Their legal and financial victories marked an ideological turning point by placing the artist at the heart of cultural policy debates. Neither Ondaatje nor Urquhart had any training in cultural affairs administration - were in fact developing their own artistic careers.

Curator and a member of several juries, he was named to the Order of Canada in 1995. He lives in Stratford, Ontario. He is the winner of 2009 Governor General's Award in Visual and Media Arts, CARFAC Outstanding Contribution Award.

Photo: Martin Lipman