Historic Art | Greg Curnoe

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

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Mustache #9, 1965

Technique: collage, ink and plexi-glass on board

Dimensions: 8.25x1.5 in.

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. 65

Mustache #9 is one of 14 mustache shaped collages that Curnoe completed in the winter of 1965, with each mustache carrying a stamp of its version number. The materials he used for these works come from paper he would find on the street, in the newspapers and from labels of products he used. Of note in this piece are two labels from Angel Records and Capital Records, Kodak camera film packaging and a “Made in Canada” label. These works act as self-portraits, first based on the fact that Curnoe’s mustache was one of his defining physical attributes and then in the fact that the collage materials provide a portrait of Curnoe’s daily life and interests.

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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