- 1936-1999 (Creation)
Level of description
Extent and medium
28 cm of textual records and graphic material
Name of creator
Nellie Olive Curnoe (née Porter, 1909-1999) was the mother of Canadian artist Greg Curnoe (1936-1992). She married Gordon Charles Curnoe (1909-1985) in 193- and had three children: Greg, Glen (b. 1939) and Lynda (b. 1943). For biographical information on Greg Curnoe, see the finding aid to the Greg Curnoe fonds at this library, or Judith Rodger’s chronology in the 2001 Art Gallery of Ontario catalogue Greg Curnoe: Life & Stuff.
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.
Material in this collection was brought together by Nellie Curnoe throughout her son’s life, and following his death. After Nellie Curnoe’s death, the collection passed to her surviving children Glen and Lynda, who together donated it to the AGO.
Immediate source of acquisition or transfer
AGO credit line: Gift of Glen and Lynda Curnoe, 2000
Content and structure area
Scope and content
Collection consists of documentation of Greg Curnoe’s life and career as an artist, collected by Nellie Curnoe throughout her son’s life and after his death. The fonds includes Greg Curnoe’s childhood drawings, notes, annotated books and school records; documentation of his artistic activities, including press clippings and exhibition invitations; postcards from Greg Curnoe and his family to his parents; and sympathy cards to Nellie and Gordon Curnoe following Greg Curnoe’s death. Collection is comprised of the following series: 1. Juvenilia 2. Memorabilia 3. Elementary school records 4. Childhood books 5. Artefacts 6. Exhibition documentation 7. Postcards from Greg Curnoe 8. Press clippings 9. Sympathy cards
Appraisal, destruction and scheduling
No further accruals are expected.
System of arrangement
Conditions of access and use area
Conditions governing access
Open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment only. Please contact the reference desk for more information.
Conditions governing reproduction
Various copyright holders. It is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permission to publish any part of the collection.
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
Items in Series 1: Juvenilia were treated for mold growth in 2002 and stabilized at that date.
Subject access points
Place access points
Name access points
- Curnoe, Greg, 1936-1992 (Subject)
Genre access points
Description control area
Rules and/or conventions used
Level of detail
Dates of creation revision deletion
Revised 31 October 2018
Description prepared by Amy Marshall, 2005.
Uploaded and adapted by Nirvana Chainani, 2019.