Greg Curnoe fonds
- 1936-1996 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
19.3 m of textual records and graphic materials ca. 1895 photographs 1111 works on paper 394 artefacts (buttons, rubber stamps and other material) 85 audio cassettes 34 linoleum blocks 10 video cassettes 9 wood blocks 2 etching plates 1 video reel
Name of creator
Greg Curnoe (1936-1992), artist, lived most of his life in London, Ontario. He studied at the Special Art Program at H.B. Beal Secondary in London (1954-1956), the Doon School of Fine Arts (June-October 1956), and the Ontario College of Art (1957-1960). Curnoe married Sheila Thompson in 1965, and the couple had three children, Owen, Galen and Zoe. From Curnoe's early years, his hometown of London became the focus of his life and work, and he attracted much attention to its flourishing art scene. In 1962, he organized the first happening and the first artist-run gallery (the Region Gallery) in Canada. Curnoe played a key role in the founding of the Nihilist Party (1963) and the Nihilist Spasm Band (1965). He began making stamp books in 1962, and has been considered the first maker of artists' books in Canada. He founded the Forest City Gallery in 1973. Curnoe took up competitive cycling in 1971, and it remained a passion and ingredient in his art-making for the rest of his life. Over the course of his career, Curnoe was awarded numerous Canada Council and Ontario Arts Council Grants. From 1964, Curnoe exhibited nationally; in 1969 he represented Canada at the Sao Paolo Bienal in Brazil, and in 1976 at the Venice Biennale. He died in a traffic accident while cycling in 1992. Curnoe was the subject of a National Gallery of Canada retrospective in 1980, and the AGO exhibition Greg Curnoe: Life & Stuff in 2001. His work is to be found in all of Canada’s major public collections, as well as many private and corporate collections.
The fonds was transferred directly from the artist’s studio to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
Donated by Sheila Curnoe in 1998 and 2000.
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Fonds consists of the personal and professional records of Greg Curnoe. It includes such textual documentation as writing files; correspondence; project files including grant applications, records of the National Gallery retrospective exhibition, and Curnoe’s published writings; notebooks and journals kept by the artist, including his cycling journals; and a number of bookworks. Visual material includes numerous sketchbooks and works on paper as well as extensive photographic documentation of Curnoe’s studio, social and professional activities, exhibitions, family life, and art work. Also included are printing blocks and rubber stamps used in Curnoe’s art making. The fonds contains audio and audiovisual material which records important events and ideas in Curnoe’s life. The fonds includes two pop culture collections relating closely to Curnoe’s art practice: his collection of buttons and his collection of regional pop bottles. Titles not in brackets follow Curnoe’s original folder names. Fonds is comprised of the following series: 1. Writings files 2. Correspondence files 3. Organization and project files 4. Publications files 5. Research and subject files 6. National Gallery of Canada retrospective exhibition records 7. Deeds/Abstracts and Deeds/Nations files 8. Grant applications 9. Financial records 10. Inventories of art works 11. Publicity material 12. Cycling journals 13. Notebooks and diaries 14. Sketchbooks 15. Bookworks 16. Printing plates 17. Rubber stamps 18. Buttons collection 19. Pop bottle collection 20. Works on paper 21. Ephemera / found objects 22. Photographs 23. Audio cassettes 24. Video recordings 25. Clothing and personal effects 26. Sheila Curnoe’s files 27. Published material
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
No further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Access to Greg Curnoe’s signature stamp is available only with the supervision of the archivist, otherwise access is open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.
Conditions governing reproduction
Copyright of material in this fonds is held by the heirs of the creator. Copyright belonging to other parties, such as that of photographs, may still rest with the creator of these items. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission for the reproduction of any part of the fonds.
Language of material
Script of material
Language and script notes
Physical characteristics and technical requirements
Allied materials area
Existence and location of originals
Existence and location of copies
Related units of description
The fonds has been arranged by the archivist following the original order of the creator where possible.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Curnoe, Greg, 1936-1992 (Creator)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Prepared by Judith Rodger and Amy Marshall, assisted by Ben Featherston, 2005. Revised by Amy Furness, 2016.
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.