Tony Urquhart is recognized as one of Canada’s pioneering abstractionists. Born in Niagara Falls, Ontario in 1934, he is linked with the Toronto painters associated with The Isaacs Gallery and The Heart of London group that included artists Jack Chambers and Greg Curnoe. In 1967 he helped found CAR/FAC (Canadian Artists Representation/Frontes des Artistes Canadiens), the most important artists’ ‘union’ in Canada. Between 1954 and 1958 Tony Urquhart was trained at the Albright Art School and the State University of New York at Buffalo. In 1960 he became the first artist-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, and in 1972 he became a full-time professor of Fine Arts at the University of Waterloo.
In his artist biography, Urquhart expresses his attraction to the ‘otherness’ of the visual experience, as well as his love of landscape and architecture. In the 1960s he distanced himself from the London Group to create his now-famous box sculptures, Temple I, inspired by religious art and architecture. Urquhart was named to the Order of Canada in 1995, he won the 2009 Governor General’s Award in Visual and Media Arts, and received the CARFAC Outstanding Contribution Award. He has exhibited extensively both in Canada and internationally at galleries such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, England, the National Art Gallery of Canada and the Art Gallery of Ontario. He was also the subject of two major retrospective exhibitions presented at the Art Gallery of Kitchener (1978) and the Art Gallery of Windsor (1988).