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John Graham Coughtry

 (1931 - 1999)
John Graham Coughtry was active/lived in Quebec, Ontario / Canada, Spain.  John Coughtry is known for painting, graphics, drawing, printmaking, murals and teaching.

John Graham Coughtry

Biography from the Archives of askART

John Graham Coughtry CGP, CSGA (1931 - 1999)

An important Canadian painter, draftsman, graphic artist, sculptor, printmaker, muralist and educator, John Graham Coughtry (AKA: Graham Coughtry) was born in Saint-Lambert, Quebec (a Montreal suburb) and died in Claremont, Ontario (a Toronto suburb). His art is discussed in most Canadian art history books, it's been featured in numerous landmark exhibitions, and it represented Canada at the Venice Biennale*. Most major Canadian museums collect his works.

His mediums included oil paint, acrylic, Lucite, watercolor, pastel, Conte Crayon*, charcoal, graphite, ink, found objects*, poster, serigraph*, lithograph*, monotype*, etching*, bronze and mixed mediums. His subjects included portraits, figures, nudes, landscapes, interiors, sex, social commentary, and mythology. His styles included Abstract Expressionism*, Expressionism*, Surrealism* and Social Realism*. He's best known for figurative abstractions of nudes of which the AskART illustration titled Two Figures VIII is an excellent example.

"Coughtry's work was almost exclusively concerned with the abstracted human figure and was characterized by rich colour and powerful impasto surfaces." - David Burnett (1)

His formal art education included one year (1948 - 1949) at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts School of Art and Design where he studied under Goodridge Roberts, Jacques de Tonnancour and Gordon Webber; and four years at the Ontario College of Art, Toronto (1949 - 1953) where he studied under Jock MacDonald, Eric Freifeld, Harley Parker (1915 - 1992) and Frederick Hagan. Coughtry has also travelled extensively (France and Spain - 1954, Peru - 1973, India - 1980) and he lived in Ibiza, Spain for several years in the late 1960s and early 1970s. (2)

After graduation he was employed by Graphica Associates, Toronto (1955) and then joined the graphics department of CBC-TV, Toronto (1955 - 1959). He taught at the Ontario College of Art (1958 - 1960 and  1971 - 1980); Three Schools of Art, Toronto (1966 and 1971 - 1977); York University, Toronto (1972 - 1973 and 1975 - 1976); the Banff Centre School of Fine Arts, Alberta (summers 1974 and 1975); and Arts' Sake Inc., Toronto (1977 - 1983).

Coughtry was a member of the Canadian Society of Graphic Artists* (1957) and the Canadian Group of Painters* (1959). He also exhibited with the Ontario Society of Artists* (1957 - 1960) and the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1963 and 1964).

His works were shown in the Pittsburgh International [now Carnegie International*], Pittsburgh (1956 and 1959); the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Spring Exhibitions (1957 - 1967); the Second Biennial Exhibition of Canadian Art, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1957); the Winnipeg Biennial, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1957); the Guggenheim International Awards Exhibition, New York City (1958); the Walker Art Center Biennial, Minneapolis (1958); Sao Paulo Art Biennial*, Brazil (1959); Venice Biennale* (1960); and the Vancouver Annual, Vancouver Art Gallery, B.C. (1962). (3)

Coughtry's works were also included in numerous themed group exhibitions at major public venues such as "New Acquisitions", Museum of Modern Art, New York City (1961); "Commonwealth Art Today", Commonwealth Institute, London, England (1962); "19 Canadian Painters", J.B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, Kentucky (1962); "Fifteen Canadian Artists", Museum of Modern Art, New York City (1963); "Canadian Painting 1939 - 1963", Tate, London, England (1964); "Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1967); "Rayner, Coughtry, Markle", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1968); "Contemporary Canadians", Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York (1971); "Toronto Painting 1953 - 1965", National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1972); "The Ontario Community Collects: a survey of Canadian Painting from 1766 to the present", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1975); "Modern Painting in Canada", Edmonton Art Gallery [now Art Gallery of Alberta], Alberta (1978); "The Artists' Jazz Band", Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France (1978); "Canadian Art in Britain", Canada House Gallery, London, England (1982); "Printmakers '82", Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1982); "Face To Face - The Figurative", Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, Ontario (1984); "Pilgrims in the Wilderness: The Struggle of the Canadian Group of Painters (1933 - 1969)", Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, (1993); "Affinities", Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa (1998); "About Face: portraits and other pictures", Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa (2005); and "Abstract Painting in Canada", Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (2008).

Coughtry's first solo exhibition was in 1956 at Greenwich Gallery, Toronto, since then his works have been included in numerous solo and group exhibitions at Isaac's Gallery, Toronto (formerly Greenwich Gallery); Dorothy Cameron Gallery, Toronto; Moore Gallery, Hamilton; and Moore Gallery, Toronto. He was also the subject of a retrospective exhibition at the Robert McLaughlin Gallery, Oshawa, in 1976, which toured the country visiting nine other museums. (4)

Coughtry's works are avidly collected in Canada, they are frequently traded on the Canadian auction market, and they're in many corporate and museum collections.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites his works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Greater Victoria (B.C.), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Mississauga (Ontario), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Carleton University Art Gallery (Ottawa, Ontario),  Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), McMichael Canadian Art Collection (Kleinburg, Ontario), Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art (Quebec), Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec), Museum London (Ontario), Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Owens Art Gallery (Sackville, N.B.), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Simon Fraser University Gallery (Burnaby, B.C.), The Market Gallery (Toronto, Ontario), University of Lethbridge Art Gallery (Lethbridge, Alberta), Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). In the USA, his works are in the permanent collections of the Albright Knox Art Gallery (Buffalo, New York), Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden (Washington, D.C.), and the Museum of Modern Art (New York City). (5)

His public space works are located at the Beth David Synagogue, Toronto (relief mural dated 1958); Revere Electric Building, Toronto (mural dated 1958); Toronto International Airport (mural dated 1962); and the Yorkdale Mall, Toronto (bronze dated 1964).

Among his numerous awards and honors are a T. Eaton travelling scholarship (1953); Winnipeg Biennial First Prize (1957); Guggenheim International Honorable Mention (1958); Montreal Museum of Fine Arts Spring Show First Prize (1958); Winnipeg Show First Prize (1962); Vancouver Annual First Prize (1962); and three Canada Council awards (1960, 1965 and 1973).

(1) Source: The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references).

(2) Please note: All artists mentioned in this biography and its footnotes, except those with life-dates after their name, have their own pages in AskART.

(3) Canada was also represented at the 1960 Venice Biennale by Edmund Alleyn and Jean-Paul Lemieux. Source: Canadian Art Today (1970), by William Townsend (see AskART book references).

(4) The nine additional museums visited by the "Graham Coughtry: Retrospective" were the Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Kitchener-Waterloo Art Gallery (Kitchener, Ontario), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Art Gallery - Memorial University of Newfoundland (St. John's); Mendel Art Gallery (Saskatoon, Saskatchewan), Museum London (Ontario), Rodman Hall Art Centre (Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario), and the Vancouver Art Gallery (B.C.). Source: "Graham Coughtry: Retrospective" (1976), by Barrie Hale (see AskART book references).

(5) Several sources list more museums with Coughtry's works in their collections; however, while we have no reason to double them, we could not independently confirm them online; they include the Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, New Brunswick), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Detroit Institute of Arts (Michigan), J.B. Speed Art Museum (Louisville, Kentucky), and the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Pennsylvania).

Painters Eleven: The Wild Ones of Canadian Art (2010), by Iris Nowell (see AskART book references)

Abstract Painting in Canada (2008), by Roald Nasgaard (see AskART book references)

Biographical Index of Artists in Canada (2003), by Evelyn de Rostaing McMann (see AskART book references)

The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction (2001), by Anthony R. Westbridge and Diana L. Bodnar (see AskART book references)

The Dictionary of Art (1996), edited by Jane Turner (see AskART book references)

Pilgrims in the Wilderness: The Struggle of the Canadian Group of Painters (1933 - 1969)" (1993), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

Art and Architecture in Canada (1991), by Loren R. Lerner and Mary F. Williamson (see AskART book references)

Art Gallery of Ontario - Selected Works (1990), by William J. Withrow, et al (see AskART book references)

Catalogue of the National Gallery of Canada Ottawa: Canadian Art Volume One A - F (1988), general editors Charles C. Hill and Pierre B. Landry (see AskART book references)

The Best Contemporary Canadian Art (1987), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

A Concise History of Canadian Painting, Second Edition (1988), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)

Documents in Canadian Art (1987), edited by Douglas Fetherling [no index, see pp. 176, 225 - 226 and 302] (see AskART book references)

The Canadian Encyclopedia (1985), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

Contemporary Canadian Art (1983), by David Burnett and Marilyn Schiff (see AskART book references)

Visions - Contemporary Art in Canada (1983), edited by Robert Bringhurst, et al. (see AskART book references)

Artists, Builders and Dreamers - 50 Years at the Banff School (1982), by David Leighton and Peggy Leighton (see AskART book references)

Royal Canadian Academy of Arts: Exhibitions and Members, 1880 - 1979 (1981), by Evelyn de R. McMann (see AskART book references)

Modern Painting in Canada: Major Movements in Twentieth Century Canadian Art (1978), by Terry Fenton and Karen Wilkin (see AskART book references)

Landmarks of Canadian Art (1978), by Peter Mellen (see AskART book references)

The Index of Ontario Artists (1978), edited by Hennie Wolff (see AskART book references)

Painting and Sculpture in the Museum of Modern Art (1977), by Alfred H. Barr (see AskART book references)

The Ontario Community Collects: a survey of Canadian Painting from 1766 to the present (1975), by William C. Forsey (see AskART book references)

The History of Painting in Canada - Toward a Peoples Art (1974), by Barry Lord (see AskART book references)

The Nude in Canadian Painting (1972), by Jerrold Morris (see AskART book references)

Four Decades: The Canadian Group of Painters and their contemporaries - 1930 - 1970 (1972), by Paul Duval (see AskART book references)

Creative Canada: A Biographical Dictionary of Twentieth Century Creative and Performing Arts (1972), by Helen M. Rodney (see AskART book references)

Art Gallery of Ontario - The Canadian Collection (1970), by Helen Pepall Bradfield (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art Today (1970), by William Townsend (see AskART book references)

Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1968), by Frances K. Smith (see AskART book references)

The Canadians: 1867 - 1967 (1967), edited by J.M.S. Careless and R. Craig Brown (see AskART book references)

Three Hundred Years of Canadian Art (1967), by R.H. Hubbard and J.R. Ostiguy (see AskART book references)

Great Canadian Painting: A Century of Art (1966), by Elizabeth Kilbourn (see AskART book references)

Painting in Canada: a history (1966), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

The Development of Canadian Art (1964), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)

The National Gallery of Canada: Catalogue of Paintings and Sculpture, Volume III (1960), by R.H. Hubbard (see AskART book references)

Canadian Heritage Information Network*

Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art*

National Gallery of Canada

Art Gallery of Ontario (catalogue summaries online)

* For more in-depth information about these terms and others, see Glossary

Prepared and contributed by M.D. Silverbrooke.

** If you discover credit omissions or have additional information to add, please let us know at

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About  John Graham Coughtry

Born:  1931 - Saint Lambert, Quebec, Canada
Died:   1999 - Claremont, Ontario, Canada
Known for:  painting, graphics, drawing, printmaking, murals and teaching