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 Tony Scherman  (1950 - )

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Lived/Active: Ontario / Canada/England      Known for: encaustic painting-genre and figure, printmaking, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
Tony Scherman
from Auction House Records.
Napoleon Bonaparte: Italy
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Tony Scherman is a painter, printmaker and educator.  He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.  When he was five, he moved with his family to Paris, France, and at ten to London, England where he lived until returning, in 1976, to Toronto, which has been his home since then.

He is one of the most prominent painters in the encaustic* medium in Canada.  Examples of his works in other mediums like watercolor, etching* and lithography* are rare by comparison. His subjects are social commentary, historical figures and events, literary figures, popular culture, still life, animals, portraits, mythology, fantasy, philosophy and allegory*. 

He generally paints a series of works under one title, constructing a narrative that links all the paintings in that series. Chasing Napoleon (Napoleon, French Revolution, Nazis), Banquo's Funeral (Macbeth), About 1865 (US Civil War), The Rape of Callisto (Greek mythology), and The Blue Highway (popular culture) are some of the more famous series titles.

His styles could be described as Expressionism*, Surrealism* and Pop Art*. AskART images have very good illustrations of the nature and range of his work.

Quote: 'The thing about encaustic is that ? it's somewhere between watercolor and oil painting. It uses the light of the surface as a base like watercolor does, or drawing which? is an irreversible trajectory, but it also allows you to add light through tints.  I play with the tension using both forms of light.' - Tony Scherman

His formal art education includes the Byam Shaw School of Painting and Drawing, London, England (1968 -1971) (1) and the Royal College of Art, London, England (1971-1974) where he earned a Master of Arts Degree (2).

His teaching career includes concurrent Adjunct Associate Professorships at the University of Toronto Faculty of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, and at the University of Guelph School of Fine Art and Music, Ontario from 1983 to 1996 (3).  Since 1997, he has been exclusively an Adjunct Professor at Guelph. (4)

Scherman is also a prodigious and much in demand lecturer and public speaker; since 1976 he has given dozens of lectures at universities and art schools across Canada and the United States.  A partial list of the institutions he has spoken or lectured at includes the University of Louisiana, Lafayette; New York Academy of Art, New York, New York; McMaster University Department of Fine Art, Hamilton, Ontario; University of Quebec at Montreal; Alberta College of Art and Design, Calgary; New England College, Henniker, New Hampshire; University of Oklahoma at Norman; University of Alabama at Tuscaloosa; University of Alberta Department of Fine Art, Edmonton, Alberta; University of Lethbridge  Department of Fine Art, Alberta; University of Ottawa, Ontario; Ontario College of Art, Toronto; Mount Allison University, Sackville, New Brunswick; Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Halifax, Nova Scotia; and Princeton University Department of Architecture, Princeton, New Jersey.

Since 1979 his work has been the subject of over 90 solo exhibitions in private and public galleries.  Some recent public venue solos include the Leonard and Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montréal (1996); Hunter Museum of Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee (2002); the Kelowna Art Gallery, B.C. (2004); the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (2007); the Beaverbrook Art Gallery, Fredericton, N.B. (2007); and the Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (March 2010).

His public venue group exhibitions include "The Innovative Image", at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto (1980); "Canadian Art in Britain", at Canada House, London (1982); "Edge and Image", at Concordia University, Montréal (1984); "Ceci nest pas du Mobilier" (author's translation - This is not furniture), at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minnesota (1987); "Drawing the Line Against AIDS", at the Guggenheim Museum, New York (1993); "The Oral Tradition in Painting", at the Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1995); "20 Jaar Verzamelen Bouwfonds Kunstcollectie", at Museum Boymans van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands (1996); "Visages", at Foundation d'Art Contemporain d'Ile-de-France, Paris, France (1997); "Cleveland Collects Contemporary Art", at the Cleveland Museum of Art (1998); "Translinear", at the Tom Thomson Memorial Art Gallery, Owen Sound, Ontario and the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (1999); "Redefining the Still life" at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal (1999); "La Nature des choses" (author's translation - The Nature of the things), at the Museum of Quebec, Quebec City (2000); "Bra Joe from Kilimanjaro", at the University Art Museum, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia (2001); "Defining the Portrait", at the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery, Concordia University, Montreal (2001); "Trent'Anni Dopo 1974-2004", at Galleria d'Arte L'Incontro, Italy (2004); "Du corps a l'image" (author's translation - Body Images), at Fondation d'Art Contemporain d'Ile-de-France & Fondation Guerlain, Paris, France (2004); "Egos and Icons", at the University of Toronto Art Centre (2004); "The Perm Show", at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2006); "Arena: The Art of Hockey", at the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (2008); "Drawing Conclusions: The Group of Seven and Their Legacy", at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, Kleinburg, Ontario (2008); "Carte Blanche Vol. 2 Painting", at the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art, Toronto (2008); "Warhol and The Shared Subject: Andy Warhol, Rineke Dijkstra, Douglas Gordon, CS Leigh, Tony Scherman", at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts, The Art Galleries at TCU, Texas (2008); "Figure, Form and Ground", at the University of Toronto Art Centre, Toronto (2009) and "The Artist and the Crowd, in History", at Museum London, Ontario (to April 4, 2010).

His works are avidly collected.  They are also in many museums.  According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network*, there are 83 Scherman works in Canadian museums. They include the Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), the Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), the Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), the Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba), the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), the Mackenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), the Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), and Museum London (Ontario).

According to the artist's curriculum vitae (4) his work is also in the following U.S. museums: the Birmingham Museum of Art, Alabama; the California Center of the Arts, Escondido, California; the Denver Museum of Art, Colorado; the High Museum, Atlanta, Georgia; the Hunter Museum of American Art, Chattanooga, Tennessee; the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Art, Auburn University, Alabama; the Los Angeles County Museum, California; the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.; the Museum of Contemporary Art, La Jolla, California; the San Diego Museum, California; the Sarah Moody Gallery of Art, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa; the University of Louisiana at Lafayette; and the Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown, Massachusetts.

As an important Canadian artist he has work that is illustrated and discussed in most recent books about Canadian art history and Canadian modern art.  There is also the monograph, Chasing Napoleon: Forensic Portraits (2000), by Jacques Henric, Hans Belting, and David Moos,  published in conjunction with the exhibition of the series of paintings by the same name.



(1) Founded by the artists, John Byam Shaw and Rex Vicat Cole (see both in AskART) in 1910 as a school of drawing and painting.  In 2003 Byam Shaw joined Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, which is part of the University of the Arts London, Europe's largest centre for education in art, communication, design and performance. Source: Byam Shaw School of Art.

(2) The Royal College of Art was founded in 1837 as the Government School of Design; in 1896 it became the Royal College of Art; in 1967 the College was granted a Royal Charter, endowing it with university status and the power to grant its own degrees. The RCA is the world's only wholly postgraduate university institution of art and design, offering MA, MPhil and PhD degrees in fine art, applied art, design, communication and humanities.  Source: The Royal College of Art.

(3) Guelph is about 40 miles west of Toronto.


* 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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