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 Ken Edison (Kenneth) Danby  (1940 - 2007)

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada      Known for: landscapes, seascapes, sports and figure painting

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Ken Danby
An example of work by Ken Edison (Kenneth) Danby
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Ken Danby was born March 6, 1940 in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada. At the young age of ten, having already received recognition for his drawing ability, he made the decision to become an artist, and learned of the Ontario College of Art in Toronto. Following his highschool graduation eight years later, he enrolled at OCA. Ultimately, the school's over-emphasis on abstract art at the time did not appeal to Danby, and two years later he quit in order to pursue his preferred interests.

He worked at a multitude of art-related jobs over the next three years, while exploring various directions in his painting. His first solo show, an exhibition of abstract paintings at the age of 21, was a success, but he still felt less than challenged and decided to return to a representational focus which, in spite of being against the grain in the world of art, offered Ken a greater satisfaction. This decision was reinforced for him months later when he attended an exhibition by Andrew Wyeth in Buffalo, NY. In 1963, he arranged to review his work with noted Toronto gallery owner, Walter Moos, who was supportive, and Gallery Moos presented Ken Danby's first solo show of representational art in 1964. It quickly sold out, and set an example that was repeated and surpassed many times over the next three decades.

Although exclusively a realist painter, Danby refuses to be otherwise classified. Equally comfortable with oil on canvas, egg tempera, watercolour, and pen/pencil, he explores whatever subject or experience appeals to him. Portraits, landscapes, seascapes, sports, figure work and the unusual (an ancient crystal skull, for example), have all been inspirations for Ken Danby's work.

Since 1964, Danby has presented many solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows.

Since 1967 Ken Danby has lived and worked in the countryside one-hour west of Toronto. The natural beauty of his local surroundings is often found in his work. He resides with his wife, Gillian, in a rebuilt 1856 stone mill beside a river, surrounded by woods, the original miller's stone house, a stable and a former coach house/barn, now expanded to accommodate his personal management company.

Already the recipient of many awards in the arts, Ken Danby was officially recognized in 2000 and 2001 with three of the country's highest honours; The Order of Ontario, The Order of Canada, and the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal. Each was awarded for "exemplary contributions to the country".

Ken Danby died suddenly while on a canoe trip on September 23, 2007.


Born March 6, 1940, Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada

Selected Solo Exhibitions
2002 Earth, Sky & Water: Ken Danby Landscapes, Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery, New York, NY
2001 The Art of Ken Danby, Masters Gallery, Calgary, AB
1999 Manitoba Art Expo, featured artist, Winnipeg, MB
1998 Ken Danby: New Paintings, Joseph D. Carrier Art Gallery, Toronto, ON
1997 Retrospective: Drawings & Watercolours, Art Gallery of Algoma, Sault Ste. Marie, ON
1990 Graphic Retrospective, Harris Gallery of Fine Art, Ottawa, ON
1989 Gallery Moos, New York, NY
1987 25 Year Retrospective, MacDonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, ON
1985 Kenneth G. Heffel Fine Art, Vancouver, BC
1985 Graphic Retrospective Exhibition, Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON
1983 America's Cup Gallery, Newport, RI
1983 Galerie Mihalis, Montreal, QC
1980-82 Graphic Retrospective Exhibition, organized by the Art Gallery of Hamilton and circulated throughout Canada
1980 DeVooght Galleries, Vancouver, BC
1975 Damkjar-Burton Gallery, Hamilton, ON
1975 Galerie Allen, Vancouver, BC
1974-75 Retrospective Exhibition organized by the Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery and circulated throughout Southern Ontario
1974 Galerie Moos, Montreal, QC
1974 Wallack Galleries, Ottawa, ON
1973 William Zierler Gallery, New York, NY
1973 Fleet Galleries, Winnipeg, MB
1973 Continental Art Agencies, Vancouver, BC
1972 Images Gallery, Toledo, OH
1972 William Zierler Gallery, New York, NY
1972 Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON
1972 Nancy Poole Gallery, London, ON
1961 Pollack Gallery, Toronto, ON

2003 Art Chicago, Chicago, IL
2003 Contemporary American Realism VI, M.A. Doran Gallery, Tulsa, OK
2002 Historic Sites & Structures, Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery, New York, NY
2002 Art Chicago, Chicago, IL
2001 2: Second Year Group Survey, Bernarducci.Meisel.Gallery, New York, NY
2001 Re-Representing Realism V, Arnot Art Museum, Elmira, NY
1996-97 They Shoot ... They Score/Ils Lancent et Comptent, Exhibition of Original Art & Hockey Artifacts, Canadian Embassy, Washington, DC
1996 Celebration of Jerusalem's 300th Anniversary, International Conference Centre, Jerusalem, Israel
1993 Group Exhibition, ACA Galleries, New York, NY
1982 Canadian Contemporary Printmakers, Bronx Museum of Fine Arts, New York, NY
1981 Canadian Treasures - 25 Artists, Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON
1981 Champions of American Sport, The National Portrait Gallery, Washington, DC; subsequently toured Chicago, Los Angeles, New York
1980 Contemporary Drawings and Watercolours, Memorial Art Gallery, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
1980 Canadian High Realism, Bayard Gallery, New York, NY
1977-78 Aspects of Realism, travelling exhibition organized by Rothmans of Canada Ltd., circulated throughout Canada
1976 National Art Museum of Sport, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
1976 WASHART '76, First International Art Fair, Washington, DC
1976 III Bienal Americana des Artes Graphicas, Cali, Colombia
1974 Four Hyper-Realists, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France
1974 Selections in Contemporary Realism, Akron Art Institute, Akron, OH
1974 Oklahoma City Art Center, Oklahoma City, OK
1974 Canadian Consulate, New York, NY
1974 Canada House Gallery, London, England
1974 Canadian Embassy, Brussels, Belgium
1974 Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France
1973 II Bienal Americana de Artes Graphicas, Cali, Colombia
1973 6th International Triannual of Coloured Graphic Prints, Grenchen, Switzerland
1972 Silk Screen History of a Medium Exhibition, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, OH
1972 Hyper-Realistes Americains, Galerie des 4 Mouvements, Paris, France
1972 3rd British International Print Biennale, Bradford, England
1971 Man and His World Exhibition, Montreal, QC
1971 1st International Graphics Mart, Zurich, Switzerland
1971 Biennale des Jeunes, Paris, France
1970 Group Exhibition, Cologne Kunstmarkt, Germany
1970 Survey 70 - Realisms, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON, and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC
1970 Third International Drawings and Watercolours Exhibition, Darmstadt, Germany
1967 Prize Award Winners, 1908-1965, Spring Exhibitions, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC
1966 The Arwin Galleries, Detroit, MI
1966 Canadian Watercolours, Drawings and Prints, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
1965 The Arwin Galleries, Detroit, MI
1965 Canadian Prints and Drawings Exhibition, Cardiff Festival, Wales
1964 Exhibition of Drawings and Watercolours, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
1964 Spring Exhibition, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC

Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY
The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, QC
Saskatoon Art Centre, Saskatoon, SK
Art Gallery of Vancouver, Vancouver, BC
The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, IL
C.I.L. Collection, Montreal, QC
Power Corporation of Canada Ltd., Montreal, QC
Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, SK
The Toronto-Dominion Bank, Toronto, ON
United States Steel Company, New York, NY
Indianapolis Museum of Fine Arts, Indianapolis, IN
White-Weld & Company, New York, NY
Pittsburgh National Bank, Pittsburgh, PA
Art Gallery, University of California, Berkeley, CA
National Sport and Recreation Centre, Ottawa, ON
Norman MacKenzie Art Gallery, Regina, SK
The Art Gallery of Hamilton, Hamilton, ON
Bradford City Art Gallery, Bradford, England
Sportdevco, Vanier, ON
Visual Arts Bank, The Canada Council, Ottawa, ON
Shell Canada, Calgary, AB
University of Guelph, Guelph, ON
Canada Sports Hall of Fame, Toronto, ON
The Governor General of Canada, Ottawa, ON
Oklahoma Art Centre, Oklahoma City, OK
Mount Allison University, Sackville, NB
The Hockey Hall of Fame, Toronto, ON
The Brooklyn Museum, New York, NY
University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC
Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery, Kitchener, ON
Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC
Corporation of the City of Barrie, ON
Corporation of the City of Sault Ste. Marie, ON
City of Jerusalem, Israel
Macdonald Stewart Art Centre, Guelph, ON
University of Rochester, Rochester, NY
Schneider Corporation, Waterloo, ON

Selected Bibliography/Filmography (Does not include periodicals & newspapers)
* Indicates extensive biographical text

2001 Kirwin, W. Chandler and Ken Danby, The Great Farewell, The Creation of Wayne Gretzky's Official Retirement Portrait, Mill Studios Corporation, Guelph, ON
1998 *Vallee, Brian, Producer/Director, Ken Danby - Behind the Mask, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Life & Times series, 1 hour, first broadcast Nov. 2
1998 Danby, Ken, Ken Danby: New Paintings, exhibition catalogue, essays by W. Chandler Kirwin and David Moos, foreword by Flavio Belli, Mill Studios Corporation, Guelph, ON
1998 Wallin, Pamela, Ken Danby and Marvin Hamlisch on the Importance of the Arts in Education, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Newsworld, 1 hour, Sep. 23
1998 Wallin, Pamela, An Interview with Ken Danby, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, Pamela Wallin Live, 1 hour, Jan 30
1997 Perly Rae, Arlene, Everybody's Favourites: Canadians talk about books that changed their lives, Penguin Books, Toronto, ON
1997 Murray, Joan, Home Truths - A Celebration of Family Life by Canada's Best-Loved Painters, Key Porter Books Ltd., Toronto, ON
1987 Murray, Joan, The Best Contemporary Canadian Art, Hurtig Publishing, Edmonton, AB
1985 Lipman, Marci and Louise, Horizons, Contemporary Canadian Landscapes , Lester and Orpen Dennys, Toronto, ON
1984 *Duval, Paul, Ken Danby: The New Decade, Stoddart, Toronto, ON
1983 Hacker, Carlotta, The Book of Canadians, An Illustrated Guide to Who Did What, Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, AB
1983 Burnett, David and Schiff, Marilyn, Contemporary Canadian Art, Hurtig Publishing in co-operation with The Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
1981 Gilmour, Pat, Artists in Print, British Broadcasting, London, England
1981 Warner, Glen, Building a Print Collection, Van Nostrand Reinhold Ltd., Toronto, ON
1981 Pachter, Marc et al, Champions of American Sport, The National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institute, Washington, DC, Published by Harry N. Abrams, Inc., NY
1980 Lipman, Marci and Louise, Images, Contemporary Canadian Realism, Lester and Orpen Dennys, Toronto, ON
1979 Albertazzi, Ferdinando, I Pittori dell' infanzia, Capelli editore, Bologna, Italy
1979 Lucie-Smith, Edward, Super Realism, Phaidon, Oxford, England
1979 Hainke, Wolfgang, Siebdruck, Technik-Praxis-Geschichte, DuMont, Cologne, Germany
1979 Mara, Tim, Screen Printing, Thames & Hudson, London, England
1978 *de Santana, Hubert, Danby: Images of Sport, MacMillan of Canada, Toronto, ON
1978 Colombo, John Robert, Colombo's Book of Canada, Hurtig Publishers, Edmonton, AB
1976 *Duval, Paul, Ken Danby, trade edition, Clarke Irwin, Toronto, ON
1976 Ontario College of Art, 100 Years Evolution of the Ontario College of Art, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto, ON
1974 Sager, Peter, Neue Formen des Realismus, M. Dumont Verlag, Cologne, Germany
1974 *Duval, Paul, Ken Danby, special edition of 250 books containing an original serigraph by the artist, signed and numbered, Gallery Moos, Toronto, ON,
1973 Von Bonin, Dr. Wibke, Canadian Art Today - Colville-Pratt-Danby, a film for West German Television
1973 Duval, Paul, High Realism in Canada , Clarke Irwin, Toronto, ON
1972 Duval, Paul, Four Decades, Clarke Irwin, Toronto, ON
1971 Ohff, Hienz, Galerie der Neuen Kunste, Bertelsman, Berlin, Germany
1970 Bromfield, Rex, The Art of Ken Danby, a film for Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

Also included in:
Canadian Encyclopedia, Hurtig Press, Edmonton, AB
Canadian Who's Who, University of Toronto Press, Toronto, ON
Contemporary Artists, St. James Press, USA
Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Creative and Performing Artists, University of Victoria, B.C.
Dictionary of International Biography, Cambridge, England
Men of Achievement, International Biographical Centre, Cambridge, England
Ontario Index of Canadian Artists, Visual Arts, ON
Who's Who in America, Marquis Who's Who Inc., Chicago, IL
Who's Who in American Art, Jacques Cattell Press, USA

1999 Awarded: Honourary membership, Drawing Society of Canada
1991 Appointed: Board of Trustees, National Gallery of Canada
1986 Appointed: Board of Directors, Canadian Centre for Advanced Film Studies
1986 Appointed: Board of Directors, Toronto Arts Awards Foundation
1985 Appointed: Board of Directors, Canada Council
1975 Elected: member, Royal Canadian Academy of Arts

2002 Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal
2001 Member of the Order of Canada
2001 Order of Ontario
2000 Nominated for Canada's Walk of Fame
2000 Selected as a Champion of the Great Lakes Heritage Coast by Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources
1997 Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degree, Algoma University College, Laurentian University
1992 125th Anniversary Commemorative Medal of Canada
1983 Ontario UNICEF Medal
1981 Invited to the White House by President Ronald Reagan
1977 Queen's Silver Jubilee Medal
1976 First recipient of the R. Tait McKenzie Chair for Sport, created by the National Centre of Sports & Recreation, Ottawa, ON
1964 Jessie Dow Award, Spring Show, Montreal Museum of Fine Arts

Biography from Odon Wagner Contemporary:
Ken Danby was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario on March 6, 1940, the second son of Gertrude and Edison Danby. His brother, Marvin, four years his senior, displayed natural abilities and interest in creating art as a teenager, which he later set aside.  Ken credits Marvin's early interest with inspiring his own.  Their parents were very supportive when Ken's artistic skills expanded throughout his elementary years at Cody Public School, where he became known as "the school artist", and they soon became aware of the serious degree of his interest.  When he was ten years old, in Grade Six, he informed them that he wanted to become an artist, and that a guidance teacher had advised him of a school called the Ontario College of Art, where he could study art. Eight years later, in 1958, he enrolled.

Despite certain anxieties for their son's future, Gertrude and Edison resolved to continue their support for Ken's ambitions as he was unwavering in his determination.  Even when he quit the college two years later, he did so with a belief that for him, it was the right decision.

Ken then began his personal odyssey at the age of 20, to not only learn and grow independently as an artist, but to somehow support himself through his artistic abilities. It was a struggle, but he persevered through a multitude of art related jobs over the next three years, all the while nurturing his personal exploration of various directions in his painting and drawing. In 1963, after having returned to a representational focus in his work, and needing some reinforcement of his convictions in this regard, Danby arranged to review his work with gallery owner, Walter Moos, of Toronto. Moos was positive and supportive when his keen eye recognized the artist's exceptional abilities. In 1964, Gallery Moos presented Danby's first one-man show, which promptly sold out and set an example that was repeated and surpassed over many years.

Over the years, Danby and Moos presented many one-man exhibitions and the artist has participated in numerous group shows internationally.  Major collectors, including private, corporate and museum collections, responded enthusiastically and the artist is today recognized internationally as one of the world's foremost realist painters - as well as being one of Canada's best known artists.

His rural property includes a grand 1856 stone mill beside the river, overlooked by the original miller’s stone house, a horse stable, and a renovated barn building, which serves as an office for his publishing company.  Together with his wife, and favourite model, Gillian, he enjoyed the privacy of his scenic and historic surroundings which have often been reflected in his paintings.

The recipient of many awards and honours, Ken Danby continued to respond to his personal experiences with unique and creative dedication.  Whenever he was asked to identify his best work, or his favourite, his answer remained the same - "my next one".

Ken Danby is one of only a few contemporary artists who created paintings that made the transition from artwork to cultural icon.  While the popularity of his work and his contributions to the arts make him a celebrity in Canada, it is his outstanding timeless images that have earned him international recognition as one of the foremost realist artists.

Where some see only an incredible attention to detail, others are aware of the artist's greater accomplishment... the presence, the life and the emotion which emanates from each meticulously composed image.  Studying a Ken Danby painting is more than experiencing fine art.  It is sharing in the artist's response to his own experience.

Ken Danby's work has been the subject of several popular books, including Ken Danby, published by Clarke Irwin; Danby: Images of Sport published by MacMillan of Canada, and Ken Danby: The New Decade published by Stoddart.

He is listed in numerous reference publications such as.Who's Who in Canada, Who's Who in America, Dictionary of International Biography, Who's Who in American Art, Canadian Encyclopedia, and Contemporary Artists.

Many public institutions hold Ken Danby's originals in their collections, including The Museum of Modern Art and the Brooklyn Museum in New York, The National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Montreal Museum of Fine Art, Oklahoma Art Centre, The Governor General of Canada, Vancouver Art Gallery, University of California Art Gallery, The City of Jerusalem, Israel and the Bradford City Art Gallery in England.

Ken Danby was an elected member of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts. Among the many awards he received are the Jessie Dow Prize, the 125th Anniversary Commemorative Medal of Canada, and spanning twenty-five years of recognition, both the Queen's Silver and Golden Jubilee Medals.  He was recently invested in both the Order of Ontario, and the Order of Canada, the province's and country's highest and most prestigious honours.

Ken died September 23, 2007, and leaves behind a legacy through his magnificent collection of works that resonate with his spirit.

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