Gregory Richard Curnoe

Gregory Richard Curnoe was one of the key figures of the London Regionalism movement that grew out of London, Ontario, in the late 1950s in opposition to the perceived dictates of the major art centres. In 1957, Curnoe moved to Toronto to attend the Ontario College of Art and Design, but was disillusioned with his teachers’ formalist approach. After failing his final year of studies, he returned to London, contrite but no less determined to pursue his art practice full-time. Curnoe was very active in his milieu, introducing London audiences to the concept of artist-run centres by co-founding Region Gallery (1962), 20/20 (1966) and Forest City Gallery (1973). In 1968, he and a group of artists initiated the Canadian Artists’ Representation, an organization that advocates for artists’ rights. Curnoe was influenced in equal measure by Pop art, Dada, and his love of comic books and collectible objects. Deeply patriotic and fiercely hostile to American imperialism, Curnoe faced occasional censorship, namely for his mural Homage to the R 34 (1967-1968), commissioned by the Department of Transport Canada for the Montreal-Dorval International Airport. Nonetheless, he went on to represent Canada at the 37th Venice Biennale. In 1992, while out riding his Mariposa bicycle with the London Centennial Wheelers, Curnoe was killed when a vehicle collided with the group.