Since our last issue's announcement of the Estate of
Ken Danby (1940-2007)
at Ingram Gallery and news of the well-attended public exhibition of Danby's work at
The Art Gallery of Hamilton
, on until January 15th, a second public gallery exhibition has opened in Guelph.
Ken Danby: Five Decades
at the Civic Museum also runs until January 15th.
We have been enjoying connecting with visitors each day on Danby's life story, his extraordinary technical abilities and the fact that he was a realist well before the current high interest in this unforgiving and challenging approach to painting. Danby cut no corners, he set out to excel, and excel he did. We have works spanning his career available at the gallery. From early egg tempera pieces, to his very last work --
North of Superior,
a stunning canvas that was underway in his studio when he passed away in 2007.
Danby was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. He enrolled at the Ontario College of Art in 1958, but quit two years later because of the college's emphasis on Abstract art. He became a photorealist painter, and was inspired by the work of American artist Andrew Wyeth. In 1964, Danby's first one-man show at Gallery Moos in Toronto sold out.
Above: Ken Danby,
Devil's Chair (2002)
"Being commercially successful is an eternal problem for artists," Holubizky said in an interview with NGC magazine. "You can't get too big. You shouldn't be too successful or well loved. The avant-garde won't like it. Indeed, the avant-garde requires the opposite."
But Danby was widely recognized for his art. He was elected a member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts in 1975. Later, he served on the governing board of the Canada Council for the Arts, and as a member of the Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Canada.
Danby also received significant commissions. He was awarded the commission for the Series III Olympic coins for the 1976 Summer Games in Montreal, for which he created images of lacrosse, cycling, rowing, and canoeing.
In addition, Danby was a popular portraitist. He was commissioned by the National Hockey League to paint a portrait of hockey player Gordie Howe, and also created portraits of Tim Horton and Wayne Gretzky. In 2001, he was inducted into both the Order of Ontario and the Order of Canada.
Danby's legacy continues -- as his works now at the gallery are capturing the interest of the newest generation of painters. Many recent visits by artists we work with have quickly evolved into in-depth conversations about how Danby achieved his surface, what he looked to say with paint and how to ensure one is always improving as a technician. Timeless and stimulating, the works of Ken Danby make you both feel and think about what it takes to be an artist.
Art is a necessity - an essential part of our enlightenment process. We cannot, as a civilized society, regard ourselves as being enlightened without the arts. -Ken Danby
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