Historic Art | Greg Curnoe

Curnoe - thermometer 2 1967 collage ink and plexi on wood 34
Curnoe - mustache 9 dec 1965 collage on board 8 Curnoe - mustache 8 dec 1965 collage on board 8

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Thermometer #2

Technique: collage, ink and plexi-glass on board

Dimensions: 34.5x53.3 in.

Provenance

Isaacs Gallery, Toronto

Thielsen Gallery, London

Private collection

Exhibited

CUTOUT: Greg Curnoe Shaped Collages 1965-1968, Museum London, January 22 – April 17, 2011

Literature

Museum London, CUTOUT: Greg Curnoe Shaped Collages 1965-1968, reproduced in colour p. 72

Thermometer #2 is one of three thermometer collages from Curnoe’s portfolio. While most of his shaped collages were human forms, the series of collages he made between 1967 and 68 were shaped as thermometers, revolvers and airships. Thermometer #2 is an excellent example of the ironic humour in Curnoe’s work. While the thermometer is non-functional as a record of temperature, it functions as a record of London and Curnoe himself through the use of found object collage. Keeping with his interest in regionalism, most of his collage items were found on the streets of London clipped from local advertisements and newspapers, or from objects he used in his everyday life. Of note is the yellow text at the bottom right, a cut out from an invitation to one of Curnoe’s own exhibitions at the Vancouver New Design Gallery in 1966.

About the Artist

Gregory Curnoe was born in London, Ontario in 1936. From a young age, Curnoe expressed interest in art-making, drawing cartoons and comic books for a large part of his childhood. In 1954, he enrolled at the H.B. Beal Technical and Commercial High School in London, where he learned about modern art and literature. He went on to attend the Ontario College of Art, but was uninspired by the formalist tendencies of his instructors and did not complete his degree. In the 1960s, Curnoe’s career took off, his works included in two exhibitions at the National Gallery of Canada in 1967 and 1968. In 1968, he also helped found the Canadian Artist’s Representation (CARFAC), which works as an advocate for artist’s professional and economic rights. Curnoe is well known for his works based on his experiences in London, Ontario, and was part of the art movement known as London Regionalism that also included artists such as Ron Martin and Jack Chambers. His works are a controversial take on politics and popular culture, making use of paint, text, and collaged images. He exhibited internationally, notably showing work at the 1976 Venice Biennale and has been the subject of many retrospective exhibitions across Canada. Curnoe passed away in a tragic cycling accident in 1992 at the age of 55 in London, Ontario.
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