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 Otto Donald Rogers  (1935 - )

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Lived/Active: Saskatchewan/Ontario / Canada/Israel      Known for: painting, printmaking, sculpture, teaching

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Ad Code: 3
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from Auction House Records.
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Otto Rogers BSc, MSc, ARCA (b.1935)

An important Canadian painter, sculptor, printmaker and educator, Otto Rogers (aka: Otto Donald Rogers) was born on a farm near Kerrobert, Saskatchewan. He has lived and worked in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan; Haifa, Israel; and, since 1998, resides in Milford, Prince Edward County, Ontario. He is discussed in most Canadian art history books written since the mid 1960s, his works have been featured in numerous major exhibitions, and his paintings and sculptures are in the permanent collections of over two dozen Canadian museums including the National Gallery of Canada. (1)

His most well-known medium is acrylic paint on large canvas supports; AskART has some excellent illustrations of these works. His other mediums include spray paint, oils, watercolors, gouache*, pastels, tempera*, charcoal, India ink, crayon, welded steel, wood, fabric, plaster, found objects*, collage*, serigraph*, linocut*, stencil and mixed mediums. His primary subjects are landscapes, spirituality, mysticism, symbolism, metaphor, social commentary and as an abstractionist – line, shape, color and texture. His styles could be described as Abstraction*, Abstract Expressionism*, Fauvism*, Color Field Painting* and Modernism*. (2)

Excerpt: “He did not aim at creating landscapes or abstractions. What he sought is a visual representation of a human condition in which motion and stillness play. His work strives for an inner peace contained and fostered by means of an ordered form.” (3)

His education includes a teacher’s certificate from the Saskatchewan Teachers’ College, Saskatoon (1952 – 1953), where he studied under Wynona Mulcaster; a Bachelor of Science degree in Art Education (1953 – 1958) and a Master of Science degree in Fine Art (1959), both from the University of Wisconsin, Madison; the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshop*, Saskatchewan (1955), under Jack Shadbolt; independent studies in New York City (three months 1959); and the Triangle Arts Association* Workshop in Barcelona, Spain (1987). (4)

Rogers was a professor in the art department at the University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon from 1959 to 1988 and department head from 1973 to 1977. He also taught at the Emma Lake Artists’ Workshop* from 1971 to 1987 and was its coordinator from 1980 to 1983.

Excerpt: “The prairie painter Otto Rogers and the Emma Lake School of artists had a profound influence on the shape of art education in Saskatchewan and Alberta in the 1960s and 1970s through both their art and their teaching practices.” (5)

Rogers was President of the Saskatchewan branch of the Society for Education through Art (1962 – 1963), and he is an Associate of the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1970).

He exhibited with the Society of Canadian Painters-Etchers and Engravers* (1961); the Spring Show of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts (1961 and 1965); the Fifth and Sixth Biennial Exhibitions of Canadian Painting at the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1963 and 1965); and with the Royal Canadian Academy of Arts* (1970).

His works have been featured in numerous important themed group exhibitions such as “Eleven Saskatchewan Artists”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon and touring (1967); “Directors Choice Exhibition”, Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum, Charlottetown, P.E.I. (1968); “Art Bank of Canada Exhibition”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1972); “Major Saskatchewan Artists”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1975); “The Canadian Canvas”, an exhibition initiated and sponsored by Time Canada Ltd. which was shown in most major Canadian museums (1975 – 1976); “Abstraction West: Emma Lake and After”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa and touring (1976 – 1977); “Changing Visions”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and touring (1976 – 1977); “Selected Saskatchewan Drawings”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1977); “Canadian Tapestries ‘77”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and touring (1977); “Modern Painting in Canada: Major Movements in Twentieth Century Canadian Art”, Edmonton Art Gallery [now Art Gallery of Alberta] (1978); “Seven Prairie Painters”, Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto and Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1978 – 1979); “The Private Eye”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1979); “Saskatchewan Paper”, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina and touring (1980); “Le Paysage Canadien [The Canadian Landscape]”, Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France (1984); “Atmospheric Synthesis: Paterson Ewen, Otto Rogers, Gathie Falk, David Bierk”, Art Gallery of Peterborough, Ontario (1985); “Tradition and Innovation: Saskatoon Art in the 1950s”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1987); “A Celebration of the Human Spirit”, McIntosh Art Gallery, London, Ontario (1988); “Seventy Five Years”, Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1989); “The Flat Side of the Landscape”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1989); “The Object as Subject: Still-Life Art in Saskatchewan”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1991); “Re-Viewing Modernism”, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1992); “Achieving the Modern: Canadian Abstract Painting and Design in the 1950s”, Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba (1993); “The Crisis of Abstraction in Canada: The ‘50s”, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa (1993); “The Urban Prairie”, Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1993); “Western Corporations Collect”, Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1994); “Talk (about) Art: Selected Canadian Landscapes”, Burlington Art Centre, Burlington, Ontario (1995); “The Single Tree”, Museum London, Ontario (2000); “Plastic  Universe”, Ottawa Art Gallery, Ontario (2003); “From the Group of Seven to Die Erdegruppa: In Search of Magical and Transcendental Landscape”, Gallery Lambton, Sarnia, Ontario (2005); and “Abstract Painting in Canada”, Art Gallery of Nova Scotia, Halifax (2008).

The public venues for Rogers’ solo exhibitions include the Mendel Art Gallery, Saskatoon (1965, 1973 and 1982); Winnipeg Art Gallery, Manitoba ([with Dorothy Knowles] 1969); Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta (1973 and 1978); Dunlop Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1974); Canadian Cultural Centre, Paris, France (1974 – 1975); Mackenzie Art Gallery, Regina, Saskatchewan (1975 and 1977); Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Lethbridge (1978); Edmonton Art Gallery, Alberta (1979); Art Gallery of Hamilton, Ontario (1979); Art Gallery of Windsor, Ontario (1979); and the Nickle Arts Museum, Calgary (2004).

Rogers’ works have also been featured in solo and group exhibitions at commercial galleries such as Oeno Gallery, Bloomfield, Ontario; Wallack Galleries, Ottawa; Mira Godard Gallery, Toronto; Ron Moore Gallery, Toronto; Canadian Art Galleries Ltd., Calgary; Paul Kuhn Gallery, Calgary; Bau-Xi Gallery, Vancouver; Gallery Jones, Vancouver; Buschlen Mowatt Gallery, Vancouver; and the Galleria del Milione, Milan, Italy.

According to the Canadian Heritage Information Network* and individual museum websites, Rogers’ works are in the permanent collections of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (Kingston, Ontario), Art Gallery of Alberta (Edmonton), Art Gallery of Hamilton (Ontario), Art Gallery of Nova Scotia (Halifax), Art Gallery of Ontario (Toronto), Art Gallery of Windsor (Ontario), Beaverbrook Art Gallery (Fredericton, New Brunswick), Confederation Centre Art Gallery & Museum (Charlottetown, P.E.I.), Dalhousie Art Gallery (Halifax, Nova Scotia), Dunlop Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan), Glenbow Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Leonard & Bina Ellen Art Gallery (Concordia University, Montreal), Library and Archives Canada (Ottawa, Ontario), Macdonald Stewart Art Centre [University of Guelph Art Collection] (Guelph, Ontario), 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), Morris and Helen Belkin Art Gallery (University of British Columbia, Vancouver), Museum of Contemporary Art (Barcelona, Spain), Museum of Fine Arts (Boston, Massachusetts), Museum London (Ontario), Nickle Arts Museum (Calgary, Alberta), Ottawa Art Gallery (Ontario), Quebec Museum of Fine Arts (Quebec City), Robert McLaughlin Gallery (Oshawa, Ontario), Winnipeg Art Gallery (Manitoba) and the National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa). (6)(7)

Rogers awards and honors include four tuition scholarships while in university, over a dozen awards and prizes for his art, and two Canada Council* grants (1967 and 1977).

(1) Please note: His birth name is Otto Donald Rogers, however he is referred to as Otto Rogers by many of our sources and, apparently mistakenly, referred to as Donald Otto Rogers by a few sources, such as The Collector's Dictionary of Canadian Artists at Auction and Painting in Canada: a history. Sources: Contemporary Canadian Artists (1997), edited by Robert Lang (see AskART book references); The Canadian Encyclopedia Second Edition (1988); Canadian Heritage Information Network*; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; and Oeno Gallery, Bloomfield, Ontario.

(2) Please note: Virtually all writing about Rogers mentions his Baha’i faith and its influence on his art; for example this excerpt from The Canadian Encyclopedia Second Edition (1988): “In 1960 Rogers adopted the Baha’i Faith. Since then he has lectured and written extensively on this religion, emphasizing its importance to his art.” In 1988, Rogers moved to Haifa, Israel to become a counselor at the Baha'i World Centre. He returned to Canada in 1998. Additional source: A Concise History of Canadian Painting 3rd edition (2012), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references).

(3) Source: Page 130, Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century (1999), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references).

(4) Please note: All artists and teachers mentioned in this biography have their own records in AskART.

(5) Source: Page 25, From Drawing to Visual Culture – A History of Art Education in Canada (2006), edited by Harold Pearse (see AskART book references).

(6) Please note: In addition to “a substantial series of drawings and sketches” the Library and Archives Canada collection consists of a trove of Otto Rogers archival material such as publications; exhibition catalogues; publicity materials; personal and professional correspondence with family, friends, galleries, art dealers, artists, and others; corporate and personal financial records; newspaper clippings; and, audio-visual materials including 1130 slides, 135 transparencies, 234 photographs, 4 audio cassettes, 3 audio reels, 1 videocassette and 4 film reels. Source: Library and Archives Canada.

(7) Please note: Rogers’ work does not appear on the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts website; however his work is in their collection, this was confirmed by a phone call, on February 27, 2014, with the MMFA Curatorial Service. M.D. Silverbrooke.

A Concise History of Canadian Painting 3rd edition (2012), by Dennis Reid (see AskART book references)

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

From Drawing to Visual Culture – A History of Art Education in Canada (2006), edited by Harold Pearse (see AskART book references)

The Encyclopedia of Saskatchewan (2005), by Canadian Plains Research Center (see AskART book references)

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

Who's Who in American Art, 2001 – 2002 24th edition (2001), edited by Donald Bunton (see AskART book references)

Sights of Resistance: Approaches to Canadian Visual Culture (2001), by Robert James Belton (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)

Who Was Who in American Art, 1564 – 1975 (1999), by Peter Hastings Falk (see AskART book references)

Canadian Art in the Twentieth Century (1999), by Joan Murray (see AskART book references)

Contemporary Canadian Artists (1997), edited by Robert Lang (see AskART book references)

The Collected Essays and Criticism: Modernism with a Vengeance, 1957 – 1969 (1995), by Clement Greenberg (see AskART book references)

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

A Dictionary of Canadian Artists, Volume 7, Rakos to Sadowski (1990), by Colin S. MacDonald (see AskART book references)

Cineplex Odeon: The First Ten Years (1989), by David Burnett (see AskART book references)

The Canadian Encyclopedia Second Edition (1988), edited by James H. Marsh (see AskART book references)

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

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

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

Who's Who in American Art 15th Edition (1982), by Jaques Cattell Press (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)

Painting in Canada: a history (1977), by J. Russell Harper (see AskART book references)

The Mountains and the Sky (1974), by Lorne E. Render (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)

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

Canadian Heritage Information Network* (website)

Library and Archives Canada (website)

Art Gallery of Ontario Research Library & Archives (website)

National Gallery of Canada (website)

Triangle Arts Association* (website)

Oeno Gallery, Bloomfield, Ontario (website)

ARTSask (website includes videos of Rogers teaching)

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

Written 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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