Artwork by John Graham Coughtry,  Figures

Graham Coughtry
Figures

mixed media print
signed, dated 1965 and numbered 98/100 in pencil in the lower margin; from the “Toronto 20” 1965 portfolio of 20 prints
25.75 x 19.5 ins ( 65.4 x 49.5 cms )

Sold for $148.00
Sale date: February 18th 2020

Provenance:
Private Collection, Toronto

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John Graham Coughtry
(1931 - 1999)

Graham Coughtry was born in 1931 at St-Lambert, Québec and lived in Toronto until his death in 1999. He became interested in art while at high school and later attended the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School. He studied at the Ontario College of Art where he graduated in 1953. He won an I. O.D.E. prize and a T. Eaton travelling scholarship in 1953 which financed his trip to France and Spain, 1954-55.

While in France he studied the work of Pierre Bonnard, and Alberto Giacometti whose drawings and paintings of ghost like forms were to influence him deeply. Before becoming well known as a painter, he had attracted attention as a graphic designer for the CBC-TV/Toronto. His drawing for the production “MacBeth” was reproduced in Canadian Art from another publication of the Annual of Advertising and Editorial Art. His work appeared again in Canadian Art for a special coverage on CBC/TV graphic art in which a drawing of his appeared.

His first exhibition was with Michael Snow at Hart House, University of Toronto, in 1955, and his first one-man show was held the following year at Avrom Isaacs's Greenwich Gallery in Toronto. He became, along with Snow, Joyce Weiland, Dennis Burton, Gordon Rayner, John Meredith and others, part of the "Isaacs Group" – artists joined by the radicalism of their art and by their interests in Dadaism and jazz.

In painting perhaps his first important achievement was the acceptance of his canvas “Night Interior” for the Second Biennial of Canadian Art in 1957. In 1958 Hugo McPherson in discussing art of Toronto and Montreal, placed Coughtry within the ranks of impressive talents. He made illustrations for the poems of K. A. McRobbie in 1960. Robert Fulford in 1961 writing notes on 24 Canadian artists found in his work a deep love of and wide grasp of the possibilities of paint. In 1959 Coughtry left the CBC for broader fields, doing commissions for the Beth David Synagogue, Toronto, in 1958 (sculptured walls); a mural at Malton International Airport (now Pearson International Airport), Toronto, in 1962, giving an interpretation of man’s yearning to fly – through the movements of a solitary figure in a series of panels. Elizabeth Kilbourn during that year has written a review in praise of his one figure series for their “emotional penetration and subtlety.” Evan Turner has found his Malton mural in some respects to be his most ambitious undertaking to that time. Here as in his other figure studies, he combined the colouring influence of Bonnard with the ghost like fire concepts of Giacometti, to create the unique style of his own. He also completed a bronze sculpture 16 feet high for the Yorkdale Plaza, Toronto, 1963. His paintings of two figures gained popularity among a number of prominent collectors.

Coughtry's work was almost exclusively concerned with the abstracted human figure and was characterized by rich colour and powerful impasto surfaces. Through his teaching at the Ontario College of Art and Design, the New School of Art, and York University, and by the example of his work, he had a substantial influence on a younger generation of painters in Toronto. He is represented in several public collections, including the Art Gallery of Ontario, the Vancouver Art Gallery, the National Gallery of Canada and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Source: "A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume I: A-F", compiled by Colin S. MacDonald, Canadian Paperbacks Publishing Ltd, Ottawa, 1977