Collection LA.SC175 - Donald Gillies - Dennis Burton collection

Identity area

Reference code



Donald Gillies - Dennis Burton collection


  • 1960-2003 (Creation)

Level of description


Extent and medium

3 cm of textual records
2 collages

Context area

Name of creator


Biographical history

Donald J. Gillies (1938-) is a former professor of photography who corresponded for many years with the artist Dennis Burton. Gillies attended Dennis Burton's History of Art course at The Three Schools in Toronto, where he befriended the artist. He joined the Photographic Arts Department of Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in 1968, eventually retiring as Director of the Joint York-Ryerson Graduate Program in Communication and Culture, Ryerson University, in 2003.

Name of creator


Biographical history

Dennis Burton (1933-2013) was a Canadian artist and art educator, based much of his life in Toronto and Vancouver. Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, Burton moved to Ontario in 1950 on a scholarship to Pickering College, Newmarket, where he attended Fred Hagan’s art classes. Burton’s education continued at the Ontario College of Art (graduated 1956); the University of Southern California (1955) and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (1959). He worked at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation as a senior graphic designer, 1957-60. Burton achieved artistic fame in the mid-1960s with his controversial paintings of female undergarments (giving rise to the term “Garterbeltmania”) and abstractions inspired by genitalia. He was represented by the Isaacs Gallery, Toronto, through the 1960s and 1970s, and became associated with other gallery artists. He was a founding member of the Artists’ Jazz Band, in which he played saxophone. Burton worked extensively as an illustrator throughout this period. His career as an art educator began with his tenure as Chairman of Drawing & Painting Department at the Ontario College of Art, 1970-71; he was Director of the New School of Art 1971-1977, and a founding faculty member and President of Arts’ Sake inc. (1977-78). Burton also taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts (1974), and the University of Lethbridge (1976 & 1989). He was Artist-in-Residence at the Emily Carr College of Art, 1979-80, before accepting a full-time teaching position there in 1980. Burton has exhibited extensively throughout Canada; his work is in numerous public and private collections, including that of the Art Gallery of Ontario. Burton's third wife, the artist Diane Pugen, was the model for a number of his paintings. He had two daughters, Varyn and Maihyet.

Archival history

Material was accumulated by Donald Gillies in the course of his friendship with Dennis Burton.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

AGO Credit Line: Gift of Donald Gillies, 2023

Content and structure area

Scope and content

Collection consists of correspondence received by Gillies from Burton over the course of their friendship, including a few informal treatises written by Burton on various aspects of the visual arts. It includes two collage works by Burton.

Appraisal, destruction and scheduling


No further accruals are expected.

System of arrangement

Collection is arranged in a single series.

Conditions of access and use area

Conditions governing access

Open. Access to Special Collections is by appointment. Please contact the reference desk for more information.

Conditions governing reproduction

Copyright is held by the creator or their heirs. 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 to publish any part of the collection.

Language of material

  • English

Script of material

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Level of detail


Dates of creation revision deletion

Created 11 February 2024


  • English



Archivist's note

Description prepared by Amy Marshall Furness

Accession area

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